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‘Our message is clear — we won’t be divided’

Unite GS salutes thousands who protest against Trump’s politics of division
Hajera Blagg, Monday, July 16th, 2018

Trade unionists joined protestors from across the UK as they flooded London’s streets on Friday (July 13) to march against US President Donald Trump and his politics of division and hate in one of the country’s largest ever demonstrations.


The central London protest — one of many demonstrations across the UK — comes as Trump makes his first official UK visit as US President.


An estimated 250,000 people marched from Portland Place in central London and descended onto Trafalgar Square for a rally where Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and other speakers addressed the crowds.


Demonstrators held signs reading ‘Dump Trump’ and other messages highlighting the US President’s misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia, as well as his track record on human rights abuses, his explicit climate change denial and his stance on other issues that harm working-class people and marginalised groups.




Unite rep and Port Talbot steelworker Mark ‘Pasty’ Turner, who joined the protest, said one major motivation for his attendance was the Trump administration’s recent imposition of tariffs on steel imports which has the potential to cripple steel industries across the world.


“But more than that, Trump doesn’t seem to understand what the rest of society is all about,” Turner told UNITElive. “He wants to run a country like a business and he seems to think he can do whatever he wants. The bloke is just a businessman and you can’t have someone like that running the biggest economy in the world.”


‘Trump only understands the rich’

“Trump doesn’t understand what it is to be a worker; he doesn’t understand poverty — he only understands the rich,” he added. “If there were only people like Donald Trump and his ilk running things, we as working people wouldn’t have any rights. We as trade unionists need to stand up against that.”


Turner was joined by Unite national officer Harish Patel, who told UNITElive the importance of standing up against all of Trump’s policies.


“I’m here representing my members in our opposition to steel tariffs but it goes beyond just this,” he said. “Clearly we need to show that we are united against all of his policies unless he comes in line with a civil society and stops trying to divide us.”


Unite London and Eastern regional co-ordinating officer Sarah Cook said she felt what Trump was doing is “really frightening”.


“His attitude to women, some of the legislation he’s brought in around equalities, his stance on climate change and so much more,” she explained. “I have an 18-year-old son and I’m worried about the world he’s inherited.”


Cook said it was important for trade unions in particular to stand up against Trump.


“Trade unions represent workers and their families — and Trump’s politics affects all of us,” she noted. “We as trade unionists need to be right up at the front saying our work is not just about a single workplace issue or a grievance with your employer; it’s about the kind of society as a whole that we want to build and what our values are and what we believe in.”


Rousing McCluskey speech

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey (pictured below) gave a rousing speech at the rally after the march to tens of thousands of people.




“Our message is clear — we won’t be divided,” he told the demonstrators. “Working people will always stand shoulder to shoulder.


“Our members are against Trump because he’s a racist, he’s a sexist, he’s a climate change denier and because he’s a menace to world peace and to world prosperity,” he added.


McCluskey highlighted the wrongheadedness of Trump’s steel tariffs which are set to spark a global trade war and which Unite steelworkers are now fighting to protect their livelihoods and communities.


“We all know what happens when trade wars begin,” he said. “They’re never a solution for working people. It’s never a win for workers playing this beggar-my-neighbour game.”


McCluskey said that Unite stands in solidarity with its sister trade unions in the USA “who every day have to put up with the excesses of their president.”


“Comrades we need to stand together,” he added, as he highlighted the progressive alternative the UK has in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.


“That’s how you put hope back into our communities — not by spreading hatred and division,” he said.


McCluskey warned the UK government to “stop holding hands with Donald Trump.”


“We don’t want a ‘special relationship’ with bigotry. Stop being bullied by a racist and semi-fascist warmonger. Give British diplomacy a new start now that we’ve got rid of the ridiculous Boris Johnson. Speak up for peace and sanity. Speak up for equality and decency.”


The Unite general secretary urged the demonstrators to “keep believing in your values of justice and fairness.”


“You are the voice of millions who couldn’t make it today and I salute you,” he concluded to resounding applause.


Stand up for a fairer world

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn likewise addressed the crowds, urging them to stand up for a fairer and more just world.


“We are asserting our rights to free speech and our right to want a world that’s not divided by misogyny, racism and hate,” he said.


Corbyn denounced Trump’s Islamophobia — most recently evidenced by his criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan — as well as his withdrawing the US from the UN human rights council and the Paris climate change Agreement.


The Labour leader said that all change starts with people coming together — that it is demonstrations like theirs that form the bedrock of democracy.


“Our rights to demonstrate in this wonderful square were hard fought and hard won,” he said. “Our rights to vote were hard fought and hard won, the right of women to vote was hard fought and hard won, the right for women to decide their own future and their own lives was hard fought and hard won.


“Our rights and our democracy come from people uniting together,” Corbyn added. “When we divide ourselves by xenophobia, when we divide ourselves by hatred, we all lose.”



All photos by Stefano Cagnoni



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