By Tim Hardy
The TUC are organising a massive demonstration against the cuts on 26 March. The unions have their strengths – years of experience of organising have given them the funds, skills and contacts we as unaffiliated individuals lack – but they don’t understand the power of social media to mobilise and inform however sincerely they are trying to catch up.
Just as sukey makes use of the wisdom of the crowd to keep protesters safe on demonstrations, so too can we make use of the wisdom of the crowd to come together in ever-changing, shifting coalitions of resistance to the savage, unnecessary ideological cuts we face from a minority Conservative government propped up by duplicitous Liberal Democrats.
We can march side by side with the unions even if we do not share all of their views or support their methods.
On the 26 March, I want to see more people on the streets of London than marched for Stop the War.
We may be bored with marching from A-to-B, hearing a rousing speech then heading home but for many this will be new. Our cynicism may shield us from disappointment when our voices are not heard, but if nothing happens after the march, thousands more will have their political awakening and join us.
This is where we as digital activists need to work, bridging the gap between online activity and the real world, between the politically committed and the undecided many. We need to spend time offline talking to people who would never have considered marching before.
We need the people who are turned off by the talking heads, dry statistics and pretentious sounding language that characterises too much political discourse. People who find politics boring – until they find their library is closing, their daughter’s tuition fees are trebled, their health care has been sold off to the highest, uncaring bidder – by which time it is too late.
I want to see families marching. I want to see pensioners joined by children. I want to see every single section of society that is being victimised by these cuts putting aside their differences and marching together in the biggest peaceful protests in decades. I want to see readers of the Daily Mail walking side by side with readers of the Guardian.
Spread the word online – then get off the internet and talk to people in real life. Then come back and share, swap tips and go back out again.
Too often we end up preaching to the choir, talking on- and off-line only to people who share our views and concerns. Our job now is to get out there and talk to people who are not listening. Don’t waste time engaging with abusive people who have nothing to offer but disdain, be wary of concern trolls who feign confusion just to push their party line but don’t dismiss sincere, reasonable questions. Finding answers to genuine concerns people have based on the repeated lies trotted out by the coalition helps all of us grow stronger and more sure and broadens our support.
We have nine weeks. Together we can make history. Together we can force this government to listen to the people whose votes they stole by lying to win power.
Those with the broadest shoulders are shrugging off their load and leaving it to the weakest and most vulnerable to pay for the mistakes of the bankers. Let’s send a message out that our democracy is not for sale. It is our votes that confer power not private donations to party coffers.
Let’s work together to pool all of our skills and resources and make our message heard. The cuts are not the cure. Our country is not for sale.