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Marching down the Headrow against youth unemployment and racism

On Saturday 8 October, 200 people marched through Leeds against youth unemployment and racist division. On the same day, 700 supporters of the BAE Systems workers and the Jarrow March for Jobs gathered in Hull.

Ian Pattison, Leeds City Socialist Party

Young unemployed people, part of the ‘lost generation’ are marching the 330 miles from Jarrow to London and were in Leeds all weekend. On Saturday, we marched from Leeds University through Leeds city centre to a rally at Millenium Square. Speakers at the rally included Matt Meehan of the Yorkshire TUC Youth Forum and Ian Pattison of Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs who is joining the march from Leeds to London. The opening rally at Leeds University was addressed by Jarrow Marcher Sean Figg, Socialist Students member Alicia Blackett and trade unionists Jane Atchinson (PCS DWP President) and Ryan Case (CWU Youth Chair).

Marchers hit back against slander by Tory MP for Scarborough, Robert Goodwill, who claimed £145,387 in expenses in 2008. Goodwill has condemned the Jarrow March for Jobs, but despite this and the rain, spirits were not dampened.

A racist group with links to the far-right EDL and neo-Nazi Combat 18 threatened to protest in Leeds against what they call “multiculturalism, immigration, and Islamic invasion” on the same day as the Jarrow March was due in town. These racist bigots only serve to divide working class communities along arbitrary racial and religious lines, at a time when we need to be more united them ever.

We can’t rely on big business politicians to effectively challenge the far right. Former New Labour minister, Margaret Hodge, said British people should go to the front of the housing queue, and Tory leader David Cameron attacked multiculturalism the same day as a racist EDL march. How can these out of touch millionaire politicians understand the problems facing young people today? When the racist British National Party (BNP) stood in Barking in 2010, Youth Fight for Jobs organised a march through the constituency to undercut the racist lies of the far right.

The Jarrow March for Jobs will now march to London, finishing with a national demonstration on 5 November, holding demonstrations in every town and city along the way (and a few places like Bristol and Cardiff not en route); to offer young people an alternative to an age of austerity.

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