There In Spirit, 26th March 2011.
I was there in spirit, but I will leave it to others to give their real impressions, Flesh is very good on the anti-cuts demonstration:
“I was really impressed by all the Labour and labour groups who joined the march without any pomp or circumstance, added their bodies to the many others on the streets, simply trudging (or sometimes shuffling) with their enormous and lovingly stitched banners, without anybody trying to use the occasion as self-publicity fodder. Good people.
Violence drives people away. The thugs who committed acts of violence today did so simply because they enjoy violence. They need to fuck off back to the Bullingdon club or Marlborough or Guildsmiths or wherever they’re from and leave us alone. They’re nothing to do with the 500,000 people who shuffled through London today to protest the Conservative-led government’s cuts (and in many cases, the slightly less punishing but still deep cuts proposed by the opposition).
So I thought it an irresponsible and disheartening mistake for UK Uncut, asked in advance on BBC 2’s Newsnight about anticipated violence on the protest, to change the subject. They should have readily disowned it. Non-violent non-destructive occupations and flashmobs are sufficiently newsworthy without any acts of wanton destruction. To see the anarcho-syndicalist flag flying from the window of Fortum & Mason, and to hear that the atmosphere in there was festive, will make me smile for a good while to come. “
Here’s Jim’s take on events:
“Ed Miliband addressed the crowd from the end platform despite having written Labour’s cuts Manifesto for the last election and Labour councillors up and down the country voting, en masse, for cuts budgets.
In a move designed to annoy the Daily Telegraph UKUncut occupied Fortnum and Masons and there were a number of other peaceful direct actions, mainly against banks, and Anne Summers’ windows were smash in a targeted strike against, um… shops? This led some wags to comment that police were looking for “hardened protesters” and that this was the “climax of the demonstration”.
However, while the smashed windows seem pointless and, frankly, unrepresentative of the feelings of most of those turning out, the continuing direct action, which led to a number of protesters being arrested despite being completely peaceful, are a real benefit. Unlike the Iraq War march where the focus was simply on size it is very good to see that this protest was not just big, but lively and edgy too, with many people reporting a carnival atmosphere. “
Two of Peter Tatchell’s tweets seem to sum up the issues nicely in my mind:
“Ed Miliband admitted Labour would make cuts too. He offered no alternative to the ConDems, apart from cutting later #tuc #ukuncut #26march
Cuts are human rights issue. When social welfare is cut, people suffer. Shame on Cameron/Clegg. Miliband would cut 2 #ukuncut #tuc #26march “
A lot more of people’s experiences on the day can be found on Twitter, using the #26march key word.