Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The March For The Alternative, Sat March 26th

I was one of the 500,000 (yes that’s right 500,000, not the reported 250,000!) peaceful protesters that took part in the March for the Alternative TUC demonstration on Saturday. I, like everyone marching on the day, feel so angry and appalled by the actions of this Coalition government against the Public Sector, and their attempts to dismantle the Welfare State and privatize our health and education amongst the countless other things malicious and ideologically driven cuts they are making in the guise of cutting the deficit.
It was great to be a part of it and stand shoulder to shoulder with everyone across the nation, who has felt driven to protesting. I went as part of the Birmingham NUT, which took four coaches to London. We were fronted by a wonderful Samba Band that pounded out a powerful tribal rhythm that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up with excitement and exhilaration as we joined the feeder march down to Embankment and then slowly (and I mean slowly, it was very arduous walking at such a slow pace) up to Hyde Park. There were some immensely creative banners that were proudly held aloft, and the sense of solidarity created through the chanting and music was very moving. There was a palpable sense of anger directed into this peaceful demonstration about this government’s actions that rippled through throughout the crowd. Typically the coalition was quick to shrug it off when interviewed on the news, presenting themselves as immovable on their policies. But I think the March on Saturday and the sheer volume of ordinary, decent working people prepared to travel from all over the nation will be ignored at their peril. There was a lot of discussion on the day about a forthcoming General Strike to follow on from this. People will be rejoining their workplaces this week feeling galvanized and encouraging their colleagues to join them in direct action.

The NUT website explains why this was the biggest march in recent British history and why it was called the 'March for the Alternative'. It says, ' New figures show that more and more wealth is being concentrated in the hands of the already very wealthy. Britain's top 10% have a personal fortune of £4,000 BILLION! A one off 20% tax on these would ensure that the deficit was paid off without a single cut being made. The plans to privatise services, from the NHS to Education, will see more more being hoovered up by the incredibly wealthy. This is the Tories having an ideological attack on our services.

Their mantra is simple... private profit good, public services bad'.

It was a shame and yet typical that the media coverage that followed focused on the riots that occurred that evening after the March (what was also very sinister and disturbing was the lack of coverage by the Murdoch owned Times on Sunday. A sign of things to come with this BSkyB takeover- another thing to oppose!). It seemed to overshadow events. I witnessed the UK Uncut protest at Fortnum and Mason, and wholeheartedly support their peaceful sit-in demonstrations at stores owned by the odious Tax Dodger (and government adviser) Philip Green to raise awareness of this issue. I think the more violent action on the streets by the anarchist groups represent not the mindless violence so lazily portrayed in the media, but a generation of young people who are getting increasingly politicized and angry at the terrible cards being dealt them in this society that the current Government is trying to radically and viciously re-shape. We used to have a society where we thought the young were the future. Now they face miserable debt-ridden lifetimes having to pay for often a second-rate education. I think the violence dealt out by the Government to ordinary communities and people through their programme of cuts is far more sinister and destructive than a few rioters.

But there is an alternative. It’s up to us all to continue to stand up and fight for it…

No comments: