Thousands begin London march against spending cuts

Thousands begin London march against spending cuts

Demonstrators assemble near Waterloo Bridge before the start of the anti-cuts march, 26 March 2011
 Organisers of the march expect more than 100,000 people to take part

Ministers say the cuts are necessary to fix the public finances and critics must come up with an alternative.

More than 600 coaches were provided to take people to London on Saturday morning, and marchers set off at 1145 GMT from Victoria Embankment.

They are walking to Hyde Park for a rally from 1330 GMT where speakers will include Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The BBC’s Sophie Long, who is with the marchers, says there is “the atmosphere of a festival, with bands playing”.

Tax evasion

One of those protesting was Peter Keats, 54, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, who works for Jobcentre Plus.

“Start Quote

Our alternative is to concentrate on economic growth through tax fairness”

End Quote Len McCluskey Unite general secretary

He said: “Personally, I think it’s wrong the way we are hitting the poor.

“I’m not so much worried about myself but the customers I deal with are vulnerable and I’m worried about them and I’m worried about the kids of this country.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis joined the marchers gathering on Victoria Embankment.

“It’s going to be an absolutely incredible demonstration of ordinary working people, and ordinary families, saying this coaliton has got to stop cutting jobs and public services,” he said.

The largest union involved, Unite, said so many of its members wanted to take part that it could not find enough coaches or trains to ferry them to London.

What’s happening and where

  • Marchers assemble from 1100 GMT on Victoria Embankment and Lower Thames Street
  • People are advised to join the march late, up until at least 1400 GMT, to avoid long wait
  • Starts moving at 1200 GMT towards Hyde Park
  • Rally in park from 1330-1630 GMT
  • Speakers will include Labour leader Ed Miliband

Its general secretary Len McCluskey said the scale of the deficit had been exaggerated.

Outlining his economic plan, he said: “Our alternative is to concentrate on economic growth through tax fairness so, for example, if the government was brave enough, it would tackle the tax avoidance that robs the British taxpayer of a minimum of £25bn a year.”

Education Secretary Michael Gove said he could understand the disquiet and anger.

“But the difficulty that we have as the government inheriting a terrible economic mess is that we have to take steps to bring the public finances back into balance,” he said.

       Ed Balls was heckled as he joined the march in London Mr Miliband is attending the march but is yet to sketch out an alternative, he added. On Friday, the Labour leader said that “the voices of the mainstream majority” would be making themselves heard. “I think the government will be making a great mistake if they somehow dismiss all of the people on that march as troublemakers, or just ‘the same old people’. They are not,” he added. There are some concerns about disorder at the event, and a number of groups have been using the internet to call for the occupation of buildings in the West End. The Metropolitan Police said it planned to station officers at certain sites thought likely be at risk, such as the Treasury and the entrance to Downing Street. It has also written to businesses asking them to step up their security and to clear away any loose equipment such as ladders and dustbins that could be used as weapons. ‘Kettling’ concerns The TUC has said months of planning and close co-operation with the police would ensure the march would be peaceful.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude on cuts

It is urging people not to join feeder marches and to stagger their arrival and departure times.

Both the police and the TUC will be sending information and advice to protesters during the march via Twitter.

In a report published on Friday, Parliament’s Joint Human Rights Committee praised the Met and the TUC for their close liaison.

But it said it was concerned about the possible use of containment – or “kettling” – on peaceful demonstrators, and expressed surprise that neither the police nor the organisers had raised issues around the technique in their planning.

The Met will for the first time allow observers from human rights group Liberty into its control room for the event.

Met Police commander Bob Broadhurst said he hoped for a peaceful demonstration, but added: “We might end up in some form of containment. We would hope we can keep that for as few people as possible and for as little time as possible.”

Are you planning to take part in the march against spending cuts? What do you think the rally will achieve? You can send us your views and experiences using the form below.

4 Responses to Thousands begin London march against spending cuts

  1. Graham says:

    How sad that our Country has been reduced to such poverty by so many years of profligacy & waste. Our once great Country up to its eyes in debt, more than almost any other Country in the western world.

  2. Tim says:

    I have to say, cuts are already affecting my family, my brother is in a residential home, his rent has gone up and his benefits have gone down, he now faces a shortfall of £20 weekly and has to find it or risk being homeless as a result. I wonder if these marches will make a difference in the end or if the Government like so many will plough on ruining disabled peoples lives and that of the carers too who have the responsibility of perhaps subsidising such ruthless cuts to enable them to have some independence from the caree from time to time.

  3. maggie says:

    I think this is terrible, considering the vast ammount of money that was spent on the 2012 olympics in London

  4. graham says:

    The Mayor of London has pointed out the Labour leader failed to spell out to crowds in Hyde Park what cuts Labour would have made in power. Many Labour MP’s have complained because they ( like many of us ) know the truth & don’t like hearing it… it would hardly be any different if we had re-elected the Party that put us in this mess in the first place.

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