Burston School Strike Rally, a Report.
Burston March Sets off. (Photo: Nick Norfolk)
The 100th anniversary of the strike by children at Burston Strike School was attended by well over 1,000 people.
Arriving, people would have seen stalls jostling for space on the village green.
There were stands from Unite, PCS, the RMT and NUT, Unison, and other unions.
Pressure groups, like the Norfolk Humanists and secularists, campaigns for education, for Palestine, against poverty, against UKIP and the Fabians, were joined by political organisations.
These included local Labour Parties, the Green Party (who have 15 Norwich councillors and 4 Norfolk County Councillors), the Communist Party of Britain, Socialist Party, New Communist Party, Socialist Appeal, New Communist Party, and the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Oh, and there were a few people from the Socialist Workers Party.
From Ipswich Sarah sold her famous jam, Ziggy put up a sparkling display of his badges, and Suffolk People’s Assembly had a stand near to the Norfolk People’s Assembly.
It was good to see the rural radical journal, Country Standard, distributed.
The stage, in front of the School Museum, was soon filled with speakers.
Amongst them Megan Dobney SERTUC Regional Secretary helped set the upbeat tempo of the day.
Owen Jones began by outlining how the Establishment, the Tory and business networks with momentum in government, have pushed their interests and are driving the NHS into private hands. Owen pointed out that people like the teachers at the centre of the Burston strike, Annie and Tom Higdon, had stood up and fought for people’s rights. “We pay tribute to their courage, but we also do it because we learn from their example.”
Today, we, the labour movement, should not be afraid to follow in the footsteps of the Higdons. We need to demand basic social justice, a Living Wage, and a decent welfare state. The railways, a prime example of privatisation’s inefficiency and profiteering, should be brought back into public ownership. A clamp down on tax avoidance instead of attacks on those receiving benefits could be one way of financing radical social reform – for the benefit of the many not the few. A Labour government had to be bold and respond to these demands.
Owen remarked that far from being radical the proposals he’d sketched are the “common sense” of our time.
TheatreTrain children’s musical theatre performed a piece depicting the dispute.
It began with the words from All Things Bright and Beautiful, which then go….
“The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.”
TheatreTrain Play. (Eastern Daily Press)
Red Flags, the NASUWT brass band and The Faction washed the audience with music.
Jeremy Corbyn, MP, spoke.
After describing the way in which the Liberal-Conservative Coalition had underlined the rights and living standards of the majority of the population he moved on to international issues. Corbyn deplored the way NATO had taken upon itself grow larger and larger and encroached, through the Ukraine, on the Russian federation. This was not just a drain on resources: it caused terrible loss of life and threatened to cause further conflicts.
The MP for Islington North also attacked the the Israeli assault on Gaza, pointing to the death and destruction left in its wake.
Jeremy Corbyn did not mention Iraq or Syria.
One of the Burston Trustees, Mike Ward said that the number of the people who’d come was the largest yet.
Our coach, which came from Holland on Sea, Clacton, Colchester, and Ipswich, was full up ten days ago, and those trying to book after that date had to make their own way to Burston.
It was a great success, magnificent.
On the journey back people were already planning a campaign against UKIP in the Clacton by-election.
(More details of rally)
From Dean Reeves.
Suffolk People’s Assembly’s Banner was on the stall.
From Nick Norfolk.
More in EADT 24
Video of Burston Rally
More on the Burston Strike, burstonstrikeschool.
Update: Another Report (Suffolk People’s Assembly).
This year’s 100th centenary Burston Rally on Sunday was the biggest ever, with a crowd estimated at between 1-2000 during the course of the day.
Surely a sign of the times?
As the sun broke through, Burston Green was packed with stalls and visitors; unions, political parties and community organisations including Unite, the RMT and NUT, the Greens, Labour Party, Norfolk, Suffolk and Kings Lynn Peoples Assemblies, socialist and environmentalist organisations.
Several prospective Parliamentary candidates for Suffolk Constituencies were there, including David Ellesmere (Ipswich), Jane Basham (Suffolk South) and Jack Abbott (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) Sandy Martin, the leader of Suffolk County Council Labour Group also put in an appearance.
Owen Jones was invited to speak by the organisers, following his appearance at Suffolk Peoples Assembly’s founding meeting last September 2013.
He didn’t disappoint. Not only is he a crowd puller – he also has the ability to speak cogently without notes.
“It is great to see so many people out here today and of course, what we are doing is commemorating an absolutely inspiring episode in our history and to think back at that struggle and the courage and determination they showed in Burston Strike School.
“And to think, going back to 1914, that a century later people would be gathering in force to remember everything they fought for. That is a powerful testimony to everything they fought for.
“We pay tribute to their courage, but we also do it because we learn from their example.”
“Today, we, the labour movement, should not be afraid to follow in the footsteps of the Higdons. We need to demand basic social justice, a Living Wage, and a decent welfare state. The railways, a prime example of privatisation’s inefficiency and profiteering, should be brought back into public ownership. A clamp down on tax avoidance instead of attacks on those receiving benefits could be one way of financing radical social reform – for the benefit of the many not the few. A Labour government had to be bold and respond to these demands.”
Other speakers included Jeremy Corbyn MP and Geoff Revell, from the RMT, who paid tribute to Bob Crow, a regular speaker at Burton over the years.
Hopefully we can build on this success next year.
Written by Andrew Coates
September 8, 2014 at 10:42 am
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