There were, even according to the BBC’s first reports, at least half a million people on the demonstration. They came from all parts of the country in hundreds of trains and coaches: old people, families with children, students… there were youngsters singing anti-Tory songs, French trade unionists, a merry group performing ‘random acts of kindness’, and another offering free hugs to anybody, I even got a snapshot of a group of policemen under their own banner……but few of the marchers were long-term activists of any kind, they are just people who need nurseries, schools, hospitals, social care, libraries… or they are people who work day in and day out often in struggle against their political masters to make sure these services are provided. The future of civilisation depends on them succeeding.
UK Uncut were present, the ones who turned a bank into a library recently: they occupied millionaires’ store: Fortnum and Masons – did no damage, hurt no one and allowed shoppers and staff to carry on – but this did not stop the police arresting every one of them and TV political careerists describing them as ‘thugs’! The media have made a big show of one group that did smash a few windows and burn things. The BBC showed vivid scenes of violence, and also made the mistake of showing Brian Paddock more or less admitting that the police had staged-managed things to ensure that the vast crowd got very little access to the main public areas, while, despite prior information of what the breakaway activists were planning to do, they were allowed free access to the areas where the trouble occurred. Besides that their coverage consisted of a comment from some nonentity proclaiming once again THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE.
But there were half a million voices that could have given the lie to this. Half a million is considerably less than the number on the demonstration which tried to prevent the Iraq war. And that protest was ignored. But now we are in a new era. And this time the marchers came prepared. And they are going back home to their communities and workplaces to organise locally protests, work-to-rules, strikes, sit-ins where they try and impose the cuts/privatisations…They know that this is not a one-off demonstration: it is just the very beginning of a momentous movement of change.
And they know that there is an alternative. One of the wealthiest nations in the world, where the rich are daily getting richer off the backs of workers who recieve a lower and lower share – and the rulers can find no way of maintaining their regime without shortening the lives of the elderly, driving people out of jobs, cutting their childrens’ education, handing over homes, education and matters of life and death to profiteers? The idea that there is no alternative is absurd. The half a million is already growing and beginning to organise and raise the question of just what this alternative will be and how to create it.