‘End Austerity Now,’ demand Britons

June 21, 2015 02:03 am | Updated 02:03 am IST - LONDON

End austerity: it’s cheating us all; Jobs not Trident; No cuts; Defy Tory rule; Cut war not welfare; Stop fracking; a Living Wage for mothers; and, The Pope gets it, why can’t you? With the slogans emblazoned on banners, posters and flags, anti-austerity marchers shouted slogans, sang, and beat drums, as they walked through London in what is being called the biggest protest march that the city has seen.

Multiple issues

The ‘End Austerity Now’ demonstration saw participation by an estimated crowd of between 70,000 and 250,000, all coming together to protest against cuts imposed due to austerity, the threats to the National Health Service, the privatisation of public services and Tory economic policy.

London has increasingly become the venue of mass protests, and the march was, equally, testimony to the organisational skills involved in bringing together disparate groups on a common platform in a spirited but peaceful way.

Traffic went off the roads of central London from 12 pm, with bus services suspended for the duration of the march that wound its way from the City of London right up to Parliament Square. Called by the Peoples Assembly against Austerity, an umbrella organisation that has united unions, church groups, citizen organisations, charities and others, the march was addressed by union leaders, politicians and celebrities, all of them calling for the end to the welfare cuts that the Conservative government has announced it will be making.

Amongst those who addressed the gathering at Parliament Square were Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness; Coronation Street actor Julie Hesmondhalgh; Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn; general secretary of the Unite union Len McCluskey; Green Party MP Caroline Lucas; comedian Russell Brand; singer Charlotte Church; national secretary of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity Sam Fairbairn; and Lindsey German from Stop The War Coalition.

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