Mark Harrison was at Manchester’s May Day demonstration this year.
This year’s May Day demonstration was more enjoyable than usual, with a relatively large turn out of around 200 people and pleasant weather for a majority of the day. A ‘carnival bloc’ had been arranged by local autonomists and included a sound system playing traditional workers anthems such as Bella ciao as well as more modern tunes. A large samba band and a couple of demonstrators on stilts kept our spirits high as we marched from the site of the large unemployed workers’ demonstration of 1931 that was ambushed by police, towards the modern Urbis development.
Speeches were made by trade unionists but as the rain began to pour members of the Anarchist Federation took to the stage. Frank Ellis, secretary of Manchester TUC, tried to physically prevent them but was unable to. The AF speaker spoke of the history of the Haymarket Massacre and of the need to organise beyond trade unions and one day token actions. As Ellis told the AF member that they had ‘no right’ to speak, a member of the audience shouted that they had more right than Salford’s new Labour Party Mayor Ian Stewart, an ex-MP who had voted for war. (Scroll down to see footage)