Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Mass March Over Draconian Spending Cuts

By Ben Aulakh

The biggest mass march since the Iraq war hit the streets of London on Saturday to protest against the most savage spending cuts in British history.

Between 250, 000 and 500,000 people marched through the capital, in response to the coalition’s draconian deficit reduction measures.

The ‘March for the Alternative’ was led by the Trades Union Congress, alongside a host of community organisations and groups opposed to the raft of current government spending cuts.

Protestor Brad Manning, who took part in the March, wrote on the website dedicated to Saturday’s action, “The day was amazing, because contrary to everyone’s expectations there was a massive turnout.

“The government and their wealthy friends are mugging the welfare state with a ferocity that we have not seen in our lifetimes.

“Our public capital is being stolen brazenly in front of our faces, on Saturday that mood of concern and anger about what the government is doing materialised into action.”

The march began at Blackfriars before snaking its way down Whitehall and Embankment, before culminating with speeches in Hyde Park.

In his speech TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber attacked the Coalitions plans to reform the NHS, as well as the return to culture of huge banker’s bonuses.

He said, “With more than 50,000 job cuts already in the pipeline in the name of so-called efficiency savings of £20 billion, the NHS is already in intensive care.

“As David Cameron talks about selling it off to 'any willing provider' to make a profit the NHS is facing the gravest threat in its history.

“Today let us say to him - we will not let you destroy what has taken generations to build, today lets us pledge to do everything in our power to fight to defend it.”

However the mainly peaceful march was marred by clashes with police, in and around Leicester Square, with more than 200 arrests being made by police.

More than 60 people were also injured in the trouble, 13 of them members of the Metropolitan Police.

A large number of Members of the UK Uncut anti-tax avoidance organisation were arrested by police outside retailers Fortnum  and Mason.

Video obtained by The Guardian showed peaceful protestors inside the store being told they were being kept inside to allow police to clear violent demonstrators outside.

Despite being given repeated assurances by police that they would not be arrested, once outside, the activists were ‘kettled’ before being detained for a variety of public order offences.

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