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Manchester's left protests against arrival of Conservative Party conference in 'red bloc'

  • Conservative party conference commences at the Midland Hotel
  • Protests occur across the city centre
  • Manchester Momentum march up Oxford Road

The socialist organisation Manchester Momentum staged a ‘red bloc’ protest along Oxford Road to mark the arrival of the Conservative party in Manchester.

The Tory party’s arrival happened at a turbulent time within British politics, where post-covid recovery and HGV driver shortages are at the forefront of the public’s minds.

With this in mind Manchester Momentum aimed to unite Manchester’s left aligned members of society to unify and join their march.

The march was referred to by activitists as a ‘red bloc’ an eye-catching method consisting of a red wall of flags and flares.

They marched from the bottom of Oxford Road to the top, with the goal to get their message heard.

Manchester Momentum are a post Jeremey Corbyn Labour group and their main aim is a socialist lead Labour party.

Northern Quota caught up with the chair of Manchester Momentum, Liam Smyth, before the protest began.

Who is Manchester Momentum?

We are a socialist group, we formed back in 2015 off the back of Corbyn becoming the Labour party head. Our main aim is momentum towards a socialist lead labour party. We combine social and political education to the public to try to achieve this goal.

What is the scope of Manchester Momentum?

We have around 4,000 members locally, nationally the number is around 30,000. All members must be a part of the Labour party, so our recruitment mainly stems from that. The last election we pulled around 100 new members within Manchester through knocking on doors.

Why a red bloc protest?

It pulls people together and unifies us. I don’t know if you will remember but we did the same thing two years ago and carried a Karl Marx puppet up Oxford Road. It got people talking, which is the aim.

One of the main points being raised this week is the plan to level up areas. One way the Conservative party is planning to do this is by pledging money to sports and leisure, with a figure of 22m being spent on tennis courts. What are your thoughts on this?

How many millions are taken out of children’s mouths? It just highlights how out of touch they are with everything. They do this and then take £10-£20 a week away from the most disadvantaged.

Another point of contention at the conference is the HGV driver shortage. Blame has been put on the lack of people wanting to do the job due to a decrease in immigration post Brexit.

That is always going to be the blame. It’s just rhetoric to create division. There is a labour shortage all over Europe. If you pay people more, they will do the job.

Insulate Britain’s M25 blockade sparked debates surrounding protesting and its place in society. Where do you stand on this?

It’s a difficult one. In terms of that method, I don’t agree with it. A lot of these groups claim to be apolitical and don’t set out methods to fix anything. When they blockade roads it's turning people against them rather than with them. When we talk about insulating houses, we should be turning to the government and not the people. It is the government that have done this.

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