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How Calling for David Cameron's Resignation Distracts Us All

Let's not forget what the national demonstration is actually about: how austerity erodes housing, health, education, and jobs.

by Michael Segalov
Apr 16 2016, 2:56pm

Photo: Chris Bethell via

This article originally appeared on VICE UK

I don't particularly like David Cameron. I don't like that his party's dismantling our education system; that cuts he's supported have pushed up poverty levels; that he defended the bedroom tax after a court found it to be unlawful, facilitated cuts to support for people living with disabilities, and left a generation with little prospect of comfortably getting by.

When the Panama Papers leak revealed that "Dodgy Dave" had benefited from offshore tax arrangements, I didn't like him even more. Finding out that the bloke who's told a nation we can't afford a welfare state has benefited from his father's dodgy offshore tax arrangements, and not bothered to pay his share got me fuming.

At last Saturday's #ResignDavidCameron demonstration I chanted and sneered too, shouting desperately outside a hotel where Cameron was speaking, as his audience gleefully laughed off his difficult week.

On Saturday, April 16, we'll be marching through London again, pissing off taxi drivers, confusing tourists and adding our voices to the national anti-austerity demo called months before any of this tax business kicked off. It would be all too easy to keep on focusing our anger on #ResignDavidCameron, but we can't let this distract us from what's actually going on.

When thousands line up in London for the People's Assembly's march, we'll be standing alongside those on the front lines of Tory austerity. There'll be the student nurses who risk having their bursaries cut, meaning they'll be paying the government for the pleasure of working 12-hour night shifts. There'll be junior doctors who feel they've been given no other option than to strike, vilified by ministers and the press for trying to secure a future for our NHS. There'll be teachers, steel workers, students, migrants, and social workers all out to say enough is enough on behalf of the thousands of people reliant on food banks and the 53 per cent of us who struggle to pay the rent.

Right now we're seeing the Tories go into overdrive, privatizing schools, shackling the unions, and letting refugees die in the sea. Even Iain Duncan Smith couldn't hack it.

If we let the anti-austerity movement be consumed solely by Cameron-bashing, there's a real risk that nothing will change. When Dave and his chums gained their Parliamentary majority last year, it wasn't because voters thought he was just a bloke like us off the street.

We'd watched him saunter into Parliament practically in white tie and tails; we'd seen the Bullingdon Club pictures and read about the cash-for-access donor parties. This Eton-educated, Oxbridge-graduate, in-it for-himself-and-his-mates Prime Minister was nothing new. The pig allegations came as more of a surprise, admittedly, but that's neither here nor there.

We've been lumbered with this smarmy cabinet because there wasn't a cohesive movement demanding social change, forcing inequality onto the political agenda, and offering something both hopeful and new.

READ: Here's Why You Should Give a Shit About the Panama Papers

If there's one thing we've learnt from the political and economic crisis in Europe over the past few years, it's that changing our society for the better will be reliant on a mass movement of people taking control, and not just lamenting how awful our individual political leaders are. Abi Wilkinson's organization of last weekend's protest is one example of how much that can pay off, but we shouldn't lose focus or momentum.

When Cameron's time is finally up, a campaign for his resignation will then be moot. The prized "dead cat" strategy—distracting us with a single dire act while everything else falls out of focus—is in play. Dave's resignation calls are well and good, but it won't stop the government fighting other world leaders to keep tax evasion afloat.

Saturday's march for health, homes, jobs, and education needs to be focused on these real, progressive aims. The rent strikes, the squatted libraries, the Westfield die-ins, and the mass demands that make us a bit harder to ignore.

I dislike David Cameron, but I hate what he's done to this country more. When he finally pisses off to a happy retirement, we're fucked if we're not properly prepared. Marches like this need to continue, as do the direct actions that see us say enough is enough. #Boris2020 doesn't bear thinking about, and demanding Dave's resignation alone won't stop that.

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