500,000 people marched today against the coalition government's austerity measures, with the support of the majority of the population.
The March, called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) was the biggest demonstration since the 2003 anti-war protest.
On the eve of the demonstration a ComRes/ ITV News poll shows that two thirds of the public feel that the Government should reconsider its cuts programme
Following Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget statement earlier this week, the latest Cuts Index conducted by ComRes and to be broadcast on ITV News at Ten, shows that two thirds (64%) of the public agree that the Government should reconsider its planned spending cuts programme. Just one in five (20%) disagree.
Since the Cuts Index began, the number of people who agree that the coalition Government is cutting public spending too much and too quickly has risen from 45% last October to 58% this week.
A YouGov poll out later today will also show 52% back aims of March for the Alternative to 32% against.
Libcom.org requests that our users post their live updates and accounts of the events below.
A few bits and bobs from
A few bits and bobs from someone not able to attend but following on the net:
About 400,000 protesters according to the guardian. As of 2pm a couple of hundred have occupied shops on Oxford Street and thrown paint and smoke bombs. Apparently light bulbs filled with amonia have been thrown at police (dunno what that means, stink bombs?)..
This may be a useful live
This may be a useful live feed from independent student journalists:
Half a million seems to be
Half a million seems to be the "official" figure now. I'm exhausted, will post up a report tomorrow. It's certainly been an eventful day!
What an amazing day! So many
What an amazing day! So many people, was easily half a million, with small chaotic breakaway marches all over the place. Here's my account of the day, which is necessarily incomplete. I would be very interested to see other people's accounts.
I started pretty early this morning (well, for me…), went with my girlfriend (her first-ever demonstration) and a couple of friends, one of whom it was their first demo as well.
We went to meet up with the education feeder march, as we thought it would be the most fun. We got there about noon and it had recently left so we caught up with it. Seemed like 3-5000 people. Big samba band, so quite lively with drumming, apparently there was a small book bloc at the front, didn't see the militant workers bloc but there were quite a few anarchists scattered around.
Marched along to meet up with the main march on the embankment, and it was taking forever because there were just so many people. Went along with the main march for a bit. This was a bit after 1 PM - we heard that the front of the march had already arrived in Hyde Park at this point, and even going high up we couldn't see the end of the demo. Over the megaphone someone shouted that the media were reporting 400,000 people, and it was clear that there were at least this number.
Then we split off and went straight to Trafalgar Square to skip some of the walking. Lots of people milling around the square, as the march went through. A big black bloc of maybe 300 came through quite quickly, looking pretty cool (although playing shit music) and headed straight up Charing Cross Road, I presumed going to Oxford Street.
We saw a group of anarchists who shall remain nameless (unless they are happy with it) who led a small breakaway March of maybe 300 up Haymarket to Oxford Street, was good fun. Got to top shop which was being guarded by ordinary police, who by this point were covered in paint, as was the store, with a couple of the large windows broken.
Hung around Oxford Street for a bit, lots of stores had been targeted with paint bombs, like Boots. Then we cycled around, just seeing what was going on, which included:
-Porsche dealership on Park Lane getting trashed, along with some of the Porsches inside
-HSBC on Charing Cross Road getting trashed
-the Ritz getting fucked up, paint bombed, windows broken and apparently a flare gun fired at it. Apparently one copper tried to stop the attack, who promptly got knocked to the ground, and his helmet thrown up in the air by the crowd.
-Fortnum & Mason being occupied by about 300 people, a huge crowd also gathered outside, got pretty vandalised. Just narrowly avoided getting kettled here; heard that a lot of the occupiers were later arrested
-various other stores throughout the West End windows broken and paint bombed
-in general quite a lot of chaotic, lively breakaway marches, a few with sound systems
-a massive black bloc going through Oxford Circus just before 4 PM
-apparently it kicked off in a pretty big way around Piccadilly in the evening, some people broke through a police line and went on a rampage
-heard that people attempted to attack Ed Miliband when he tried to speak - anyone know more about that?
-Lots of police vans had circled A's spray-painted on them
Two main thing stood out, one was just the sheer size of it. It was huge. I bumped into so many people I knew, including loads of people I haven't seen in years, former work colleagues etc. Quite a lot of people it was their first protest. Getting back home I see loads of other friends attended as well via pictures and statuses on Facebook, including a lot of people who aren't political.
The second thing was that it was a lot more chaotic and disobedient than the big anti-war demo back in 2003. I think this was mostly due to the student presence and the student demonstrations at the end of last year, and also UK Uncut. There were also a lot of anarchists around, a few different blocks and loads of scattered individuals, small groups and red and black flags.
I hope that next week in work things feel a bit different, I'm pretty psyched up and want to get on with going on strike now, hopefully for many other people it is the same.
I haven't looked at the media reporting yet, will do that now…
it certainly sounds more
it certainly sounds more satisfying than yesterday's triangle shirtwaist fire commemoration here, featuring some of our most prominent government officials
Quote: Police struggle to
Haha, that's gold.
Always amusing to hear the
Always amusing to hear the bourgeoisie whine like in those Daily Mail articles.
Sounds like it was a fun day, I hope you all stayed healthy and free.
Did any of the planned
Did any of the planned occupations/general assemblies come off?
Samotnaf wrote: Did any of
don't know about assemblies, but plenty of occupations took place - Fortnum & Mason being the biggest
Saw the F&M occupation, but
Saw the F&M occupation, but just wondered if there was anything more long lasting, one involving more public discussion of a general assembly type.
Jim Clarke wrote: The IWW
Yeah I saw that. Pretty handy.
I was completely out of sync
I was completely out of sync with all events, only saw the aftermath of some. Oxford street was surreal with shoppers going about their business with smoke billowing in the background. Lines of cops outside some stores leaving others completely unprotected and doing business as usual. All strangely coded, overhearing many shoppers confused about the meaning of all this. The intermingling of normality and protest was both amazing and slightly depressing.
Overheard swappie paper mongers positively excited when reading out load from their phones the latest anarchist news. This happened twice.
The choice of occupation sites make them purely symbolic. No way F&M could be held for any length of time or serve as anything but media fodder, but fun for those involved I'm sure.
Does anyone know if the occupations were intentionally symbolic or a simply optimistic?
this seems to be the
this seems to be the unofficial thread rounding up yesterdays events so ill add some stuff.
Running around Oxford Street didnt really do much for me, but the potential to develop this in to strategic economic blockades is there. At a point where the bloc stopped, unsure what to do next, three SolFeders tried to convince the bloc to head to TUC House, but it didnt happen. I reckon we were near to getting kettled before rejoining the march, which made it impossible for police to stop any "spectacular" - or whatever you wana call it - actions. Police tried to arrest a guy outside the Ritz, and got charged by about 100+ people. Needless to say im pretty sure the guy got de-arrested. I went into Hyde Park to meet up with friends/family, but I know the bloc i was with continued on elsewhere, eventually to Piccadilly i guess, but im lacking in exact details.
- meeting Steven and Auto ;)
- some anarchist in a wheelchair sounding like a pirate singing "I'm an Anarchist and I'm ok". Missed the rest of the lyrics :(
- The SolFed banners. 8-)
Low point: seeing a woman crouch down covering sheltering her two toddlers, one of whom of was shaking and crying because of those "noise bombs" the black bloc were letting off.
Things i heard from others in the evening and would like to hear if anyone knows any more:
- Apparently there was something that kicked of in Hyde Park, involving cops, and im guessing, anarchists? But i dont know anymore.
- Police told the press to leave Piccadilly circus - did they manage to enforce this?
- Police punched a BBC journo in the face and told another they would punch him if he didnt move
- That they arrested so many from the Fortnum a& Masons occupation that they were loading them on to coaches
I didn't realise I met you -
I didn't realise I met you - were you in the pub?
And this is the official thread for posting accounts of the day!
I saw Chick Young on the tube
I saw Chick Young on the tube from Paddington, and that was the closest I came to kicking off all day. Like Steven, I went with my girlfriend, and because we both work in education we decided to join the Militant Workers Bloc on the Education Feeder. The feeder was impressively big – quite a few thousand – and full of noise and flares and firecrackers. I’d say there were several hundred anarchists involved; some were masked up and others, like me, were going for the march of the mainstream look. There was a weird, and IMO messed up, Scottish nationalist thing going on (something to do with the Brazil match, I suppose); but, on the other hand, hearing ‘A las Barricadas’ on the bagpipes was one of the funniest moments of the day. Everything came to a stop when we merged with the main march and the volume of people became apparent (I think it was probably the third or fourth biggest march I've ever been on). When we got moving again, some of the TUC marchers seemed a bit perturbed by the anarchist contingent, but they relaxed when they saw that the black bloc types were actually polite and patient. We had with us our union flag and a red and black flag, and I didn’t witness any antagonism within the march. We spent some time searching for a mate who we thought was in a group he turned out not to be in. We listened to a jazz band, bopped along to a sound system (can’t believe I’ve just used the word ‘bopped’), and lost sight of the red and black contingent, though there were anarchist flags and small groups of masked up people scattered throughout the march. My favourite placards: ‘Cameron out, Clegg out, Houllier out’ and ‘I wish my boyfriend was as dirty as your policies.’
Anyway, though we were having a nice time, we’d had enough of A to B, and we decided to cut up towards Oxford Street. However, after we took a wrong turn or two – by this time, on the back streets, there were riot vans screaming in every direction – and, aye, of course, after we’d stopped for a pint (I needed a slash!), we’d missed most of the action. In the area around Oxford Circus we found a big Trojan horse thing (which was later set on fire) and heard more music. There were maybe two thousand people when we got there; some had climbed lampposts, others were dancing, or sitting down to have some food. Topshop looked a mess but by the time we got there everything seemed very relaxed. The crowd seemed to be a mix of anarchists and some UK Uncut people and others, mainly young people, who were carrying shopping, and were checking out what was going on. Then the police charged in for no real reason – I think they were trying to set up a kettle – and there were some missiles thrown (bottles, a traffic cone, some paint bombs) – and we headed out with a break away group, who were pursued by more cops.
But we didn’t fancy a ruck so we headed down to Hyde Park where the rally had ended and the ‘Stay for one day’ people had set up a small camp. Then it was time for another pint, but as we left Hyde Park, we saw another group hurrying towards the park. They had a sound system and a few red and black flags, but they were quite distinctive cause it was a young group – mainly school age – and the tubby Robocops chasing them looked comically knackered. Then, after we’d been for a drink, we went to get the train home.
So, all in all, not a heroic tale. My main feeling throughout the day was uncertainty about exactly what my role was. I wasn’t going to get stuck in, and I didn’t want to spectate a riot from the pavement (if I’m going to spectate a riot, I’ll do it on Sky News from the comfort of my sofa); on the other hand, I didn’t want to march to Hyde Park and listen to Ed Milliband. The biggest disappointment for me was that though I saw several breakaway groups and autonomous actions, in these groups I didn’t see any union flags or more mainstream cuts protesters; these groups seemed to be comprised mainly of anarchists and young people radicalised by the student movement. The problem we face, I think, is that the police’s present policy is to rapidly react with violence to any action that deviates from the A to B – occupations, sit down protests, even something as tepid as the climate camp – and recently this has meant kettling people for hours. So, while it might be possible to get sections of a big march to engage in a non-violent blockade (for instance), most people are going to be deterred if this means being kettled and/ or caught up in a riot. In that sense, fair play to people for teaching the police the problems with their present tactics.
In the end, I got home about eleven, turned on the news and saw that in Charring Cross they were still learning that lesson.
You should have said you were
You should have said you were coming down!
Best lame placard of the day was a small white one saying:
CUT MY LIFE INTO PIECES
THIS IS MY LAST RESORT
well, she is only nine.
Wayne wrote: I saw Chick
Chick Young the knobhead scottish football journalist? ;)
Quote: You should have said
I know, would've been good to see you. But our last train was pretty early, before the end of the anarchy. Hope we'll find another occasion soon.
:D That's disgusting; my girlfriend's old enough to be her big sister.
Yeah, that bellend. He was with some other guy off the telly whose name I can't remember. He looked every bit as smug and annoying in the flesh.
I came down from Manchester
I came down from Manchester with my girlfriend on one of the coaches organised by Manchester TUC. I was immediately concerned when we arrived at the coach station, as turnout was low and I recognised a fair few faces (or thought I did - the SWP activists they manufacture over at Manchester Uni literally all look the same). The TUC had organised 6 coaches, and I was worried that if the same turnout was replicated from other major cities it would be a poor show. How wrong I was!
The first sign that it would be bigger than I anticipated came when we stopped at some dreary service station on the M6. The coach park was rammed, and the entire place was swarming with hordes of scousers and contingents from a few towns in the North West and Greater Manchester. They were all heading down to the demo, and despite this service station being possibly the worst place in the world the atmosphere was great.
We ended up getting into London late after crawling through Chelsea. We were walking over from Vauxhall, and as we were approaching Victoria Tower Gardens the cops were trying to get us to cross the river, head along the south bank and then cross back over Westminster bridge. I think most of the others from our coach did this. We could see banners and flags all the way down the other side of the river, as people made their way from Battersea coach station to the march. The last quarter or so of Westminster bridge was full of people just waiting to merge into the demonstration. We went past Parliament, and joined the march from parliament square as it made its way down to Trafalgar square and past Downing street. It was easily the biggest crowd I'd been near in my life - the majority were there with their unions but there were huge numbers of young people, students, retirees and others there too. We saw Firemen from the Isle of Wight, a contingent of midwives in uniform, but were mostly next to Unison banners. It was appropriately noisy - it looked like the GMB had got loads of orange vuvuzelas made and you could hear them buzzing from a block away. On our small section of the march there was a Samba band, a union brass band, the Sheffield Socialist Choir singing the international, and lots of marching drums. The noise peaked as we went past Downing street. I climbed up a wall at one point and got a sense of the scale - there was easily 25,000 on that street, and that was at the beginning an hour after it had started.
We saw some good placards too - the best said "Cameron - If you're going to fuck us, at least wear a paper bag".
We saw some AF comrades at Trafalgar square who had distributed all the literature they had with them at that point and were wondering what to do next. We got seperated at the same time as a block of about 300 ninjas came through trafalgar square - we heard the firecrackers going off before we saw them. Most people in the crowd seemed a bit bemused to be honest, and it wasn't helped by some little scrote in the block chucking a traffic cone at someone who was just stood there taking a picture.
There was a couple of people shouting about occupying trafalgar square, but there didn't seem to be much of a mass of people attempting it. There was a Samba band and a couple of hundred people there, but the calls to occupy it Tahrir-style didn't happen, at least when we were there.
We carried on up to Picadilly, and by this point decided to head up Old Bond street towards Oxford Street. There were a few groups of protesters going the same way, and we could see two police helicopters circling ahead. We could see some Met vans up ahead, and it became clear that they were trailing a black block (presumably the same one from Trafalgar square). A handful of posh shops and upmarket jewellers had had their windows put through or had been paintbombed.
We headed down Oxford Street towards Hyde Park assuming any occupations or similar activities would be in that direction, but it soon became clear that the cops, journos and demonstrators were heading the other way, so we followed. In the square block of London between Hyde Park in the West, Oxford Street in the North and Picadilly in the south, there were breakaway marches and little groups of demonstrators wondering what to do and looking for the action. To be honest, it was mostly leftists, anarchists and young people, there wasn't the same diversity in age as on the main march.
We went past Topshop, which had already been smashed to fuck, and ended up behind a big block of marchers heading down Oxford Street. The black block had pulled in some other demonstrators, curious bystanders and some afternoon drinkers, and ended up heading down some side streets and eventually Charing Cross road. About 12 cops were following it powerlessly. By the time we reached the Palace theatre the whole group stopped, not really knowing where to go. A few dozen decided to go back up Charing Cross Road, shoving our entire police escort up in that direction. We followed everyone else as they headed down Shaftesbury Avenue, which effectively had one lane due to cars getting stopped in impromptu barricades. One line of cops went through the crowd near Greek Street, and we saw one land a straight right punch in the face of a demonstrator just stood there as they went through the crowd. They got taunted a bit and redecorated with some paint bombs, but must have been sent to deal with another group back towards Charing Cross Road. They were followed by three vans, which basically got ambushed as they tried to get down the narrow street - the first one was stopped several times and had everything close to hand thrown under its wheels. They all got a new paint job, got hit with bricks, road signs and all sorts. The last one got most of the punishment. It looks like the middle one got hit by something burning at one point too.
Given how narrow the street was, we thought a kettle was inevitable so headed back towards Oxford street. There was about 50 people involved in some kind of rally in Soho Square which we passed. By the time we hit Oxford street it was even more full of people, and it looked like the traffic was being redirected away now. There was a big group outside Boots, and a large group watching some acrobats dressed as bankers at a junction. This got rammed by a Police van.
Eventually we headed off Oxford street to get a pint and sit down, and ended up in a pub which was showing BBC news. The reporter was at the point we had joined the demo three hours before, and the road was just as packed as when we were there. Aerial shots showed at least 20,000 in Hyde Park at this point, and it looked clear that there was at least half a million out protesting. We headed towards Hyde Park, which was absolutely heaving with people. We chatted with some familiar faces, but there wasn't much of interest beyond the sheer scale of the numbers involved.
Other than nearly getting stranded in London as a result of the chaotic coach organisation, it was a great day out, but certainly begs the question of where next and whether the visible strength of feeling will translate into effective, rather than symbolic mass action against the cuts.
Bluedog wrote: - some
When I heard him it was 'i'm an anarchist and i'm all right, I sleep all day and I fight all night'.
bricolage wrote: Bluedog
He also shouted out 'ANARCHISTS ATE MY SQUIRREL' upon leaving Kennington Park.
Also of note, I saw some Media guys with a camera interviewing this guy as we were heading off from Trafalgar square.
Django wrote: the SWP
its true! those robo-trots come straight of some production line somewhere.
although to be fair, a lot of anarchists look pretty similiar, but that primarily because you can't see their faces :bb:
Maybe the black bloc
Maybe the black bloc masked-up hoodie clones are made in some city in Italy?
My day started off listening
My day started off listening to my mum signing "Killing in the name of..." in the kitchen, I asked her if she was going to mask up and smash shit, and her response was "Oh, thing is I don't have a mask..."
I joined up with people from Edinburgh University on the Education/Militant Workers feeder at ULU, and it was lovely to see our mixed bag of anarchists, socialists and non-aligned lefty students all hyped up for the march despite being on coaches from 11pm the night before. We had flags (not Scottish ones though, they're weren't with us!), we had drums, we had bagpipes. People at the front of the march were getting anxious to move on, and people who'd called the feeder march were trying to convince them to stay put until another coach load of people arrived. A bunch of us ducked into ULU for coffee and then found the revolution was not waiting for us and had set off up the street...
We stayed with the feeder march up until Embankment, and the Edinburgh Uni group ended up getting a bit straggly as people wanted to do different things. About ten of us split off and went to Trafalgar Square, hoping to see the Trojan Horse my sister had told me about. No joy, so we set off up Charing Cross Road to see what was happening, bumped into about 50 people with a sound system coming the other way who said they were going to Trafalgar, but we got them to come with us on account of Trafalgar Square being pretty dull right then. Turned out only me and one other guy knew London so we ended up at the front leading everyone to Oxford Street, to join the black bloc and head straight for HSBC on Cambridge Circus. Watching the bank getting trashed was great fun, as was watching the approaching riot vans getting paint bombed and set upon, or it was until they started driving into people. Down to about 5 of us in our little group now (some stayed behind at HSBC) we stayed with the black bloc on it's way through Soho, saw Ann Summers get it's windows put in, heard everyone chanting "We're here, we're queer, we're not going shopping!" which was ace but made me think of this.
Ended up back on the main march at some point mostly to regroup with our mates, then off to Fortnum and Mason's in time for the cops to show up and kick off. Most of the day spent wandering around from Oxford Street to Picadilly and back again, all the Edinburgh people had to leave for coaches and trains at 6pm but then I was with my sister and her girlfriend for high-speed pursuit of a bike-mounted sound system accompanied by an MC doing a good job of running alongside and not sounding out of breath.
Briefly ducked into a chippy and got into a really frustrating conversation with the owner about why we should care about the cuts, ended the night in Trafalgar Square and left just before it all kicked off. Much love for the guy in a bread helmet, not quite as good as the original though. As we were walking to the bus stop, a teenager came running over to us asking "Where's the kettle? Is it fun?!", before bouncing off to the square. It wasn't a kettle at that point, it was just a bunch of people dancing and hanging out, I hope he was ok after all that skull-cracking.
Ramona wrote: People at the
Well, some of us had been there since 9:30, so when the SWP announced, after the slated 11:00 start had passed without any movement, that we had to wait even longer, a lot of people just pushed past the megaphone guy and started shouting stuff like 'Let's go!' and 'We don't need the SWP to lead us!'. It was only a couple of us at first, but as the numbers built, everyone looking around for signs of enough support to trigger a 'go', then suddenly it all kicked off and we were away! Like watching quantity transform into quality!
The funniest part was seeing the jilted SWP banner-carriers scuttling past as quick as possible down the side of the jubilant crowd, to get to the front of the march, to their rightful place of leadership!
Tried to stay with the blue militant workers bloc banner, but we soon lost them in the confusion of various roadworks which divided up the flow of the crowd.
When we got to the main march, after waiting with everyone for about 20 minutes, we decided to cross over to the left, next to the river, where the crowd was actually moving along on the pavement. We got to Westminster bridge just in time to see the SolFed banners and the Trojan Horse come across, so we followed them up Whitehall and watched the Horse turn towards the coppers at Downing Street and make them nervous about what was to happen. Me too, and my partner got a bit scared as she sensed the tension building up. Then outside the cavalry barracks the Horse turned its arse towards the trooper on guard on his (real) horse, which was a moment of real comedy, with everyone laughing at the symbolism.
After that, we just followed the march through Trafalgar to Hyde Park, which we reached at about 3pm. Didn't want to listen to shite politicians, been up since 5:30, tired and thirsty, so time for a beer. Made our way slowly from pub to pub through from Oxford Road to Euston, seeing lots of SPG vans speeding along - could guess what was going on somewhere. Too old and sensible for the 'black bloc' look and activity (more like the 'black blob'), but my partner was wearing all black (fashion or coincidence? - I'm a bloke, so fuck knows), and we said she only needed the mask for the ninja look.
We eventually got to Euston, but our train wasn't till much later, so we went for a curry.
All in all, wished I was 21 again. Thanks, ULU Education Bloc, for the enthusiasm-transfer!
LBird wrote: The funniest
Quote: hoping to see the
The back end is funnier
The back end is funnier ;)
Steven. wrote: well, she is
sabot wrote: Steven.
Hes a paed.
steven's cleaned up a bit
steven's cleaned up a bit
Fuck that horse, btw.
Fuck that horse, btw.
What's wrong with the horse?
What's wrong with the horse?
Bullshit (or rather
Bullshit (or rather horshshit) publicity stunt by a wanker just trying to create a cult of personality around himself. Oh, look "direct action", no look, you just creating a twat out of yourself. Again.
Oh that's a shame
Oh that's a shame :(
there was nothing trojan
there was nothing trojan about the horse! it didn't contain any surprise attack, and even if it hade have done it was widely advertised as a trojan horse, which means it wasn't a trojan horse. it's just like Ian Bone with more mental fantasism. Crap anarcho publicity stunt and personality cult.
Joseph Kay wrote: there was
Ahhh, that explains why they didn't launch it over the barriers at the cops at Downing St.!
That's exactly what we were expecting in the moment of tension when it was turned across the road to point at them.
Perhaps it was a post-modernist ironic surprise - one that wasn't. Well, they had a poor old modernist like me fooled! Thanks for the details.
Probably all seen this:
Probably all seen this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IhS7yBcMnE. Story on the Black Bloc....