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Why I will be occupying Parliament Square on Friday

Social Change

Occupy Democracy protest in Parliament Square, London, October 2014. bjpcorp under a Creative Commons Licence

While the country prepares to head to the polls for next week’s general election, I’ll be getting ready to join activists from across the country to occupy Parliament Square – the doorstep of our so-called democracy – to demand an end to the corporate control of our democratic system.

This will be the seventh time in as many months that I have joined the Occupy Democracy community: using the square for our ongoing campaign highlights the capture of our political system by the mega-rich, who ensure that it serves their interests of profit and endless growth.

This is evident in the party manifestos released earlier this month. All three of the major political parties continue to support tax regimes favourable to big business.

There is also continued support for harmful fossil-fuel extraction and fracking for shale gas, as well as for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – the secretive EU-US trade agreement which will give extended legal powers to private companies.

The treaty would make it illegal for governments to resist the privatization of health services, lower food safety standards and severely undermine the few remaining labour laws. Regardless of who gets the keys to Number 10 this May, little will change.

For many of us, then, heading to the square on 1 May is more than simply crossing a box, it’s what democracy is all about.

While there will be both voters and non-voters at the protest, what we all know beyond a doubt is that democratic rights will never be simply handed over by those in power – they have to be gained through struggle, protest and the actions of popular mass movements.

By coming together with other like-minded groups and individuals and by continuing to build on the centuries of struggle before us, we know we can continue pushing the wheels of positive social change.

People involved in Occupy Democracy have been collectively developing a vision for the type of change that is needed in order to bring about real democracy. Presented as six core ‘demands’, they lay out some of the initial steps that are needed in order to achieve the necessary longer-term systemic change.

These include a party funding and lobbying reform which would curtail corporations’ access to politicians, a fundamental overhaul of the media industry, banning MPs from having second jobs or vested interests, an introduction of proportional representation and a citizen-led constitutional convention.

While fighting for change, we aim to have fun, too.

The programme for this occupying protest includes workshops, discussions, entertainment and nonviolent direct actions, including the ‘preacher’ and activist Reverend Billy and his stop shopping choir.

If you want to join in and help build a movement that represents the interests of the many, turn up in Parliament Square between 1 and 10 May, and add your voice to those fixing our broken democracy. Follow the event page to find out more.

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