Austerity marches multiply

by New Worker correspondent

THE OUTBREAK of anti-austerity marches that began after the general election shows no sign of abating and received a new impetus last week with the Queen’s Speech and the announcement of new draconian cuts to welfare and benefits.

On the evening of the speech last Wednesday thousands of protesters, most of them young and angry, gathered in Trafalgar Square for a rally and march organised by the Anonymous protest group, Youth Fight Against Jobs, The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and The People’s Assembly.

They marched down Whitehall. Police tried to box them in in Whitehall repeatedly but did not have the numbers to be effective

The matchers kept moving quickly to avoid being kettled and when they reached Parliament Square they found the road going to Conservative Party headquarters at Millbank was completely blocked with 10-foot steel barriers. Many side streets were also blocked.

The marchers turned towards Victoria, walking fast and changing direction often, leaving the accompanying police struggling to keep up with them. At one point they passed New Scotland Yard.

On their way the marchers encountered UKIP’s only MP Douglas Carswell, leaving Parliament and there were scuffles as he was challenged as a racist.

The police responded with heavy-handed attacks on the marchers and there were clashes with police forced to retreat and abandon a police car at one stage, which became decorated with anticuts posters and placards.

And on Saturday Westminster filled again with anti-cuts protesters who occupied Westminster Bridge, unfurled a giant banner from the bridge and let off paint bombs.

The giant 20-metre banner, facing the House of Commons, proclaimed: “£12bn more cuts, £120bn tax dodged. AUSTERITY IS A LIE”.

Protester Beth Cunningham, 26, told reporters: “With the new government being sworn in on Wednesday we just wanted to send a clear message that we are going to be fighting the cuts.

“Direct action is what works. It sends a loud and clear message that people aren’t happy. And it’s part of acknowledging that our current political resources aren’t enough.

“People don’t have enough resources in the current political system to make their voices heard and that’s why we resort to direct action.”

And there have been anti-austerity marches in other places around Britain. In Bristol a second such march since the general election saw about 200 protesters on the streets, marching from the Fountains and back via Baldwin Street and Castle Park.

Many of the marchers were in fancy dress some dressed as grim reapers, some wore crowns whilst others held giant scissors to signify the cuts that were to come.

Teachers were represented with their NUT banner and the Bristol Labour Party banner was supported by several Labour Party councillors.

The protest was organised by Bristol Peoples Assembly Against Austerity and was part of a national day of action.