London marches against austerity

(RT) – Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of London on Saturday in the UK’s biggest anti-austerity rally for years to oppose the new Tory government’s program of social benefit cuts and privatization. A reported 250,000 attended the rally.

People flocked to the British capital from across the country
this weekend, with over 80,000 people having confirmed their
intention to attend the major demonstration on social media.
Neither police nor organizers had an immediate estimate for the
number of protesters, but organizers have expected attendance of
up to and over 70,000 people.

There have been unconfirmed reports that a quarter of a million
people attended the rally.

Having started at 12 noon local time, the protesters gathered
near the Bank of England in London’s financial district, to then
march through the streets of central London toward the
Parliament.

Sheer diversity of people” gathered to protest against
British government austerity programs and spending cuts, RT’s UK
correspondent Daniel Hawkins reported. The rally united people
from a huge variety of backgrounds,” all angry about
cuts to the public spending and public services.

Organized by The People’s Assembly Against Austerity, an umbrella
group with support from trade unions, anti-war protesters and
some Labor and Green Party politicians, the march sees a heavy
presence of left-wing activists, but also includes a lot of
ordinary workers, people from the public sector, private sector
and trade unions.

Activists have been carrying banners reading “No Cuts,”
No More Austerity,” “Cut War Not Welfare” and
Get the Tories Out” among others, Sputnik news agency
reported.

We struggle for every pound,” “the government… is
taking money away from us all the time
,” and “it’s very
disturbing to think where it’s going
” protesters told RT.

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Anti-nuclear activists and union leaders joined the
demonstration, Sputnik reported local media as saying.

What’s happening is the people who are dependent on state
benefits, which is generally people who are very poor, disabled,
sick, people with children, people who can’t afford to pay their
rent — all of those people will be directly hit [by the
government policies]. But it’s all going to affect a much wider
group of people
,” Lindsey Ann German from the Stop the War
coalition, who stood twice as candidate for Mayor of London, told
RT.

Demanding a change of policy, German suggested money should be
taken “from the corporations, from the rich rather than from
the people who really can’t afford to give it
.”

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Saturday’s march was intended to be peaceful. A small number of
protesters let off red-colored smoke flares, but the rally has
been almost universally good natured, Reuters reported.

Ahead of the protest, several people suspected of offenses in
previous demonstrations have been reportedly arrested. Citing
sources, The Guardian said the Metropolitan Police started a
crackdown on activists, preventing them from participating in
Saturday’s protest.

Demonstrators march during an anti-austerity protest in central London, Britain June 20, 2015. (Reuters/Peter Nicholls)

There seems to be a massive crackdown. There is some sort of
political motivation behind all of this
,” an activist with
anarchist group Class War, Lisa McKenzie, was quoted as saying by
the Guardian.

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The event’s organizers say Saturday’s march will only be the
start of a major nationwide campaign. “It will be the start
of a campaign of protest, strikes, direct action and civil
disobedience in the country. We will not rest until austerity is
history
,” Sputnik quoted Sam Fairbairn, of the People’s
Assembly, as telling UK media.

A number of anti-austerity protests have been happening since
national elections in May, when the Conservatives were
unexpectedly reelected with an outright majority. People have
been taking to the streets against Tory policies, with
demonstrators being angry at public sector cuts meant to address
government deficits.

READ
MORE: ‘Misery for millions’: CBI backs more austerity, despite
slashing GDP forecast

In 2010, the party introduced a five-year austerity program,
having led a coalition focused on cutting public spending. It was
recently announced the government would adopt a further approach
to reducing the national deficit, that would include extra
welfare and spending cuts.


This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.