Street theatre came to the City of London when hundreds of protesters from a Europe-wide coalition against the austerity cuts staged an alternative banquet outside the annual London Lord Mayor’s Banquet on Monday.
As the Prime Minister and other guests arrived for the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, they were greeted with a surprise alternative “feast”, with people from austerity-ridden communities coming together to make sure that their message of “They do not represent us” was heard.
With samba and European music playing loud, protestors were given appropriately small servings of “Austerity soup” and peanuts from the hands of mock European leaders, who later gave speeches about the “benefits” of the austerity drive in Europe while a number of champagne swilling bankers chanted their support for the European leaders – in particular David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
The Plebs & PIIGS Banquet was organised by a loose coalition of groups, including PIIGS United – Londoners from Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain – ahead of the European general strike on 14th November, which will saw people striking and taking action in countries across Europe, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Italy, and France, as well as in Britain.
Virginia Lopez of PIIGS United said: “Alternatives to austerity and authoritarianism exist. We should demand more, not less Europe: a real economic union, a common welfare state across European Union, including a common minimum wage and minimum health care protection, and most importantly, a real political union.
“But a democratic one, not a European Union under the diktat of the European Commission and the corporations that lobby it. They do not represent us.”
As well as PIIGS United, the full Plebs and PIIGS Banquet coalition includes supporters of Occupy London, Coalition of Resistance, Queer Resistance, Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC), Disabled People Against the Cuts, Greater London Association of Trade Union Councils, Peter Tatchell, NUS Black Students’ Campaign, Left Front Art (queer politics and arts collective), Globalise Resistance, Greece Solidarity Campaign, Londres Contra a Troika (Portuguese Resistance), 15M London Assembly (Spanish Resistance), Solidarity With The Greek Resistance (Greek Resistance), Wake Up! (Italian Resistance), New Communist Party and Art Protesters (Portugal/International) plus more.
Coalition of Resistance’s Sam Fairbairn said: “Two years of Tory-led government has made it clear – austerity isn’t working. Across Europe policies of austerity are driving millions of people into poverty while it’s business as usual for the people who caused the crisis.
“The governments tell us there is no alternative. They say that we are ‘all in it together’. The Mayor hosts his annual banquet at which he will entertain bankers who caused the crisis and the politicians who are making ordinary people pay for it.”
Josie Reed, from Disabled People Against the Cuts, said: “Whilst the politicians, bankers and business leaders gorge themselves, exchange tips on tax avoidance and laugh about the banking bail outs … there are thousands of sick and disabled people who are faced with a future of abject poverty. Whilst Cameron and the mayor sit in the warm with a stomach full of caviar, our most vulnerable people have to choose between keeping warm or eating. The sick and disabled are being assaulted on all sides by this Government and it is creating a hidden carnage, a Tsunami of suffering.”