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Online activists, union officials and tax campaigners plan fight against cuts

TUC-backed conference of bloggers and community activists to swap tips on best way to challenge cuts in public services

Online activists, union officials and tax avoidance campaigners are meeting this week to discuss the most effective way to confront the government over its cuts to public services.

The event, modelled on the successful Netroots Nation movement in the US, will see around 100 bloggers and grassroots community activists swap tips on strategy, hyper-local campaigns and new social media tools with anti-cuts groups at a conference in Manchester on Saturday. The event is supported by the TUC and organised by bloggers.

Sunny Hundal who edits the Left Foot Forward blog said: “The government is ideologically committed to balancing the deficit on the backs of those least able to pay, and are leading an assault on community services, welfare protections, work rights and the NHS that will radically reshape our society.”

Hundal said that over the past 12 months there had been an emergence of grassroots opposition that was “connected and amplified” online and that had challenged the government’s agenda. But activists were facing “the biggest challenge of the internet age” as they tried to face down the government’s cuts agenda.

“We want to bring campaigners from across the north-west together to learn from each other and help build a bigger and broader movement that can stand up for the different causes that each of us value.”

The event is the second of its kind in the UK. In London last year hundreds of people gathered for the first Netroots UK event at TUC headquarters.

Saturday’s conference will hear from academics and activists with workshops on holding power to account and engaging with the local media.

Ally Fogg, a community activist who runs hyper-local online website Old Trafford News, said he hoped the event would help individual campaign groups swap ideas and advice.

“If I want one message to come out from Saturday it is very much to fight your own battles and fight your own causes and do not be afraid or ashamed to be quite parochial in how we campaign against cuts. But with one eye on the broader picture and the realisation that all of us are more effective when we support each other.”

The conference will also hear from professor Rachel Gibson, from the University of Manchester, an expert in online activism, and Kate Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston.

Hundal said: “Over the past year we have seen many movements come and make an impact and then disappear. What we need to do is build a lasting infrastructure and an understanding of what works that different groups and campaigns can tap into.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds