Report from March 26th London demo

9th Apr 2011 - Flore Janssen

A view of a section of the march On 26 March, Socialist Students Southampton attended the TUC anti-cuts demonstration in London. The march began on the Embankment and culminated in an extended rally in Hyde Park, featuring speakers from various political and social backgrounds, uniting against the Con-Dem government cuts. The demonstration gave us a chance to march alongside trade union members, public sector workers, Socialist Party members, parents and other students, all protesting the cuts which will hit hardest those members of society least able to afford them.

The number of full coaches making their way to London from trade union offices all over the country was a testimony to the importance of this issue to public sector workers. Newspaper articles on the following day offered a conservative estimate of 250,000 people, but it soon became clear that closer to half a million attended the demonstration.

A view of a section of the march News headlines tried to focus attention on the ‘anarchist rioters’ who paint-bombed Oxford Street shops. However, it was abundantly clear to all those present at the demonstration that it progressed peacefully, and that only a minimal proportion of the 500,000 resorted to violence. The protesters, amongst them parents with young children, as well as elderly people, wanted only to make their voices heard against the government’s brutal budgeting plans. The demonstration addressed ways in which the cuts would harm vulnerable groups such as children, people with illnesses or disabilities, and the elderly; the newspapers described how a minority attacked the Ritz hotel.

The general response I encountered on the day of the demonstration was that the protesters found it heartening and encouraging to see such a number of people like themselves travelling long distances in order to show their opposition to the government’s plans. The 26th made it very clear that the cuts will affect many different groups of people, and that very few of them will accept being forced to pay for a crisis not of their making. I met experienced activists as well as people who would never have imagined joining a protest march, but all those I spoke to were equally determined to do what they could to stop the cuts. Their sheer number, their resolve, and the justice of their standpoint are impossible to ignore, and have raised hopes everywhere that we can beat the cuts.

Come to our next meeting: Banner making, Tuesday November 1st at 19:30, Nuffield Theatre Room B