Why May Day?

May Day is your day. My day. Our day. May Day started in the 1880s as part of the 8 Hour Day Movement in the U.S. People were campaigning for a decent life, for enough to live on and some time to live in.

All across America people united in their campaign for a better life. They were skilled and unskilled; women and men; Black and White; native and immigrant all fighting our common enemy as one. Activists were centred round the 8 Hour Day Movement but they knew there was more to it. Their aim, and ours today, is a "free society based upon a co-operative system of production. This is how we will get the life we need. And so we will cut waste and environmental destruction.

In a desperate attempt to break up the movement, eight workers, all anarchists, were arrested and fitted up. Four of them were murdered by the U.S. state in the interests of big business. Subsequently May Day became an international workers holiday to commemorate those who died. They became known as the Haymarket Martyrs.

Does this ring any bells? Since 1889 all across the world the 1st of May has been a holiday and a time for celebrating freedom, equality, unity, justice and peace: the best of our species.

Governments in Britain and elsewhere, have neutered our day and tried to hide its true meaning. They want to give us the scraps of just another bank holiday. Could it get worse? Well, there has been a proposal to scrap it in favour of another bank holiday later in the year to mark Britain's historical abuse, enslavement and exploitation of half the world. Empire day? No chance.

We think it's time we stood up and reclaimed what is rightfully ours, what our people have fought and died for. No more getting ripped off by the insatiable parasite consumerism; corrupt councils selling off our public spaces and then employing private 'security' to deny us access to them. No more getting stitched up and being made scapegoats by the media. The comparisons with the Chicago experience of the 1880s are disturbing: people are still being screwed by big business, attacked by their police, outlawed by their officials and demonised by their press.

Like the originators of the modern May Day celebration we see there is a real practical alternative to the constant cycle of war and exploitation; poverty and abuse worldwide.; Through direct action in our communities; on our streets; we can live our lives on our feet instead of tearing each other apart; existing.

Reclaim May Day

Why Piccadilly Gardens?

The new gardens have a sense of emptiness. No matter which way you look, you can't get away from the concrete wall".

Manchester Piccadilly gardens was originally a clay pit. In late 18th century Lord Moseley donated the land to the people of Manchester for public use. An infirmary was built there with landscaped public gardens. Extensive bombing during the war cleared the site of buildings but the gardens survived.

In the 50's and 60's it was a popular space where public events were held and families enjoyed the gardens. Since then the City Council allowed the gardens to decline. Even after Metrolink arrived in 1992, the gardens were left to deliberately deteriorate so the ground (by now potentially a valuable commodity) could be sold.

A public consultation exercise was carried out before the redevelopment began. People were asked to contribute to comment books. 99% of people did not want any building on Piccadilly gardens.

So the City Council went ahead, stole the land of people in Manchester and sold a third of Piccadilly to build the office block 'Piccadilly One'.

The original plans passed for the 'development' included moving the tram lines to make up for the lost garden space and creating horticultural gardens on the site. Unsurprisingly this hasn't happened.

Reclaim Piccadilly Gardens.


Manchester Social Forum provides a space for those wanting to discuss and plan activities in and around Manchester.

Email: mancsocialforum@riseup.net

Or visit the website: http://www.manchestersocialforum.org.uk