Tuesday, 5 April 2011

There is a better May - unions and artists come together to take the next step in the campaign

Yesterday Glasgow Friends of MayDay, a new group of activists and artists set up to increase support for Glasgow’s MayDay celebrations, launched our 2011 programme. It is a series of events covering the three days before Sunday May 1 when the traditional MayDay March and Rally takes place in Glasgow.

Actor and director David Hayman, musicians Dave Anderson and Arthur Johnstone, and poet Tom Leonard will all perform concerts from Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 April at the STUC Centre. There will also be a night featuring film and a lecture on the UCS work-in, 40 years ago this year; stand-up comedy as an antidote to the Royal Wedding; and a Northern Soul night. The full programme is
available on http://may1st.org.uk

There are a number of reasons behind all this cultural activity. Firstly, we want to challenge the ConDem government’s attack on MayDay, by rejuvenating the International Workers’ Day celebration in Glasgow. Working with the Glasgow TUC and the STUC, far from scrapping the holiday, we aim to extend the celebrations and in following years build events in local communities as well, ensuring that they too can enjoy MayDay celebrations.

We also want to challenge the Tories’ economic policies. After the huge success of the 26 March Demo in London this will be another step in the campaign to defend public services from their cuts and say that There is a Better Way.

It is entirely appropriate that this is a broad cultural and artistic celebration. The arts are facing the same attacks as public services. In taking part in this, artists are linking with the main campaign.

We are particularly delighted that Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, is to be the keynote speaker. Trade unions are facing direct attacks by this government. Far from all of us being ‘in this together’, it is clear that they plan to mount another attack on the rights of working people. The government plans to dismember the only major institution campaigning for working people and their families. Successful celebrations such as May Day send a signal that ordinary people see through their divide and rule tactics.

MayDay celebrations have been part of Glasgow’s calendar since the early 1900’s.  In the past we welcomed such stars as Paul Robeson, and Daniel Ortega. Maybe it is a little early to aim for the 70,000 that joined the 1918 march, but we hope to work with community groups and others to raise the profile once more.

Tickets for the events can be obtained on line at http://www.eventbrite.com/org/863793523?s=3059565

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