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Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Friday, 25 June 2010 17:30 UK

Will this be the summer of renewed political protest?

Dickon Hooper
Politics Show West

Loach: where now for the Left?

"We say no to this government and no to these cuts, let's really go for it."

With this, Paulette North, union member and left-wing activist, rallied her "troops" outside a school in Bristol on Tuesday.

About four dozen like-minded others, many of them teachers, joined her just as George Osborne was presenting his Budget to the House.

There has been a lot of this kind of anger this week, as the government took its axe to the public sector.

So are we in for a summer of discontent, as the Left rallies itself?

The Bath-based filmmaker Ken Loach certainly thinks it's possible.

He told me: "The budget is the one we expected from a Tory government - it's their crisis, the deficit and debts and they will make ordinary people pay for - by increasing unemployment, by cutting welfare and public services.

Flags at a demonstration
Flying the flag: the Left is uniting

"The question is how do people respond? When people are stirred they're not apathetic; and when the cuts start to bite, if there is leadership, then people will fight back."

Leadership at the moment comes from the grassroots - people like Paulette North, Jerry Hicks of the Unite union, and college lecturers: I met the same people at each demo I attended this week.

They're clear who's to blame (the bankers); and what needs to be done (tax the rich and scrap Trident).

"We don't want a hit - we should be invigorating public spending and not cutting now. We want to see more spending into the public sector - that's how we'll get over this recession," Ms North said.

This is now clear water between the Left, including the Labour Party, and the Government, which argues we have to cut now to grow later.

City types know where they stand.

Mark Dampier, head of research at financial services company Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The problem with reinvestment is that it's not really investment, it's just spending more and more money and most of it poorly.

"Governments generally, whether they're right or left, spend our money poorly. The best people to spend our money is us. So if anything, he [George Osborne] should be [cutting] tax."

The scene is set then for a ideological battle in the corridors of power about how best to keep UK plc afloat, and a clash on the ground as people lose jobs and services.

But, at the biggest gathering of the week in Bristol, more people were playing football and enjoying the sun than taking part in the demo.

Protesters
Protesters have been making their feelings clear on the Budget

Robin Clapp, a community activist in Bristol, told the demonstration: "Twenty years ago we burned our poll tax bills. We took a pledge that we wouldn't rest until it was hated history.

"Twenty years on I take another pledge today. I won't rest until we repel these cuts."

He told me the first anti-poll tax meeting he organised was attended by just 12 people.

So there's hope amongst those fighting their corner today that their movement will grow.

Much depends on the fall-out from the Budget, and what happens when Mr Osborne returns to the House to dish out more pain in the Autumn.



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