Over 30 people attended the first Coalition of Resistance planning meeting in Newcastle last night. There were lots of people who the experienced campaigners among us didn't know, some of them new to campaigns and some getting involved in a protest movement for the first time in years.
There was an overwhelming desire for getting stuck in to campaigning activity against the cuts. It was a very productive and practical meeting as well as a chance to discuss the key issues.
The launch statement, initiated by Tony Benn and others, was very much what brought everyone together - and it serves as the basis for developing a broad-based, dynamic coalition. It was widely accepted that we need to create a national movement able to co-ordinate diverse efforts.
The potential for creative campaigning was especially impressive. A musician talked about his band's plans for a fundraising gig for 29 Sept, the European TUC day of action, and there are local artists already forming an artists' coalition of resistance!
We agreed to have the next meeting in just 2 weeks - on 8 September (venue t.b.c.) - and most people are planning to attend it, but of course it will be open to any supporters who missed the launch meeting. This will be a very practical meeting, helping organise across a range of areas: media strategy, cultural events, trade unions, etc.
There's lots to follow up from the stimulating discussions last night, but it was a very promising start indeed.