Protests ahead of Tory conference

Speakers call for campaign against cuts.


Up to 1,000 trade unionists have been protesting in Birmingham’s Victoria Square ahead of the Conservative Party conference taking place at the nearby International Convention Centre.

The protests, which formed part of the TUC-organised Hard-Up Festival, featured musicians and speakers from unions protesting about austerity cuts and calling for increased living standards, before a march around the city centre headed by a brass bands and a drumming group.

Gerard Coyne, West Midlands regional secretary of the Unite union told the crowd that Conservatives arriving for their conference “are sipping champagne and congratulating themselves. We know the reality. We’re fed up with cuts in services. We’re fed up with pay cuts.”

Amongst the demonstrators was ex-Coventry MP Dave Nellist, now national chair of the Trades Unionist & Socialist Coalition, who said that the day was to “show trades union opposition to the government’s austerity agenda, which has pushed wages back by decades.” He also called for a campaign against what he described as the similar agendas of the main parties. “It’s time the unions took account of this,” he said.

Meanwhile, as Tory activists began arriving at the ICC amongst heavy security there were further protests in Centenary Square by a number of groups including anti-war campaigners, protestors against HS2 and badger culls and a small UKIP group attempting to recruit new members.