On Saturday 15th January around 50 people, including members of the fledgling Thames Valley local, marched across Reading from the Royal Berkshire Hospital to the Civic Centre to register their opposition to the government’s cuts in public services.
Leafleting the public along the way the turnout was double the number that attended the previous protest and culminated in a series of speeches outside the civic centre. Spokespeople from the Reading Save Our Services group, Unison, the Reading Trades Council, a Labour Party councillor and a councillor for the Green Party all took part. All made clear how the proposed cuts, both locally and nationally, would impact hardest on the poorest and most vulnerable members of the community, from cuts in services for children to the loss of up to 600 jobs at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
Reading now has a number of campaigning groups in opposition to the cuts and the coalition government which has opened up the way to make the case for opposition to all the political parties. The Labour councillor, after all, could offer little more than ask us to vote for Labour in the next local elections, acknowledging that the Labour Government’s had missed a ‘trick or two’ after the 1997 election... The various campaigns will succeed or fail to the extent that they can reach out to and mobilise people beyond those already active. In Reading there are grounds for optimism that this might be building.