Peter Allen travelled from Glossop to be part of the Green Bloc in the End Austerity Now rally in London on June 20th.
Here are his impressions of the rally.
The much watched YouTube film maker ‘ The Artist Taxi Driver ‘ described last Saturday’s anti austerity protest as ” the best march ever ”
It was hard to disagree if you were there, along with tens of thousands of others, to express opposition to the new government’s claim to have a mandate to cut welfare provision and public services when, in reality, they only won the support of a quarter of the electorate at the recent general election.
The marchers reflected the diversity of modern Britain. It was particularly encouraging to see so many young people taking part, challenging the lie that young people ‘ don’t care about politics’ and giving us all hope for the future.
Green Party members were present in large numbers , and our new placards with the slogan ‘ END AUSTERITY .. IT’S CHEATING US ALL ‘ were prominently displayed. There were also lots of home made placards with creative and imaginative statements. Among my favourites was ‘ Historians Against Going Backwards’ and one which simply said ‘ The wealth of the rich has doubled’ There was also music and dancing and a generally good vibe.
The route of the march took us from the Bank of England to Parliament Square, where the vast crowd was addressed by a range of speakers including Owen Jones and Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party , Martin McGuinness from Sinn Fein , trade union leaders Len McCluskey and Mark Serwotka, actress Julie Hesmondhalgh and singer Charlotte Church. And our own Caroline Lucas of course who hoped for a ‘ progressive alliance’ to oppose the government’s ‘ ideological war on welfare’. It was appropriate that MC for the event was Romayne Pheonix, Co-chair of the People’s Assembly and the Green Party’s Trade Union Liason Officer, symbolising the Green Party’s commitment to both popular protest and trade unionism .
An inspirational day!
In the week before the march, George Osborne claimed that welfare spending is “unsustainable” and has “spiralled out of control”, and on Monday pledged to push forward with 12 billion more of welfare cuts. In the Green Party, we know something about sustainability – and it’s not welfare spending that is out of control, but rather the concentration of wealth in a few hands and the undemocratic influence this gives to those few. Investment in our public services and our people can create a truly sustainable and fair society. Concentration of wealth in the hands of so few is not sustainable if we want to maintain (or regain) a democratic system.
Economist Henry Wallich claimed that “Growth is a substitute for equality of income. So long as there is growth, there is hope and that makes large income differentials tolerable”. We know that infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible, so we need to turn that round and make equality a substitute for growth.
We’ve got a fight on our hands but we can’t afford to lose. As Caroline Lucas said in her speech at the rally:
We’re here to remind the government as well that 76% of people did not vote for them. George Osborne, you have no mandate for these cuts. So stop your ideological war on welfare. End austerity now!”