Sunday, March 27, 2011

March for the Alternative: TUC Demo: London: March 26th 2011

My day on the TUC demo, March for the Alternative, in videos and photographs

The UNISON coach leaves from Liverpool City Centre at 7am, London bound.

We stop at Warwick Services which is heaving with the huge numbers of demonstrators on so many TUC coaches. I run into good comrades, Gary Booth, Dean Sharpe and Alun Parry in the station.

Boro girl finally makes it to Wembley albeit only to park the coach up. We are waved through the tube station and cram onto the train, two local Londoner youngsters are amazed and bemused to see so many folk, all avidly chatting to each other, with placards and furled up banners. Meet Paul Amann on the tube, Liverpool on tour!

We get off the tube at Waterloo Bridge because Westminster has been closed due to the huge numbers, and we walk over the bridge towards the start point. Already we can see many thousands of people marching ahead of us along the Embankment.

As we cross Waterloo Bridge we start to form into a proper march, and move the Strand and onto the start of the official march on the Embankment. This takes about an hour and a half owing to the huge numbers..

Finally we approach Waterloo Bridge, from the other side, two hours after crossing over it. It is good to see the Merseyside banner hanging from the bridge.

An eagle eyed marcher spots Bruce Kent (third from right) as we cross underneath.

We pass under the bridge to great cheers. A baby, blissfully unaware of all the noise, sleeps in his mother's arms.

And on we march, under the next bridge, which I think might have been the New Hungerford. We've been marching for several hours now and are about a quarter of the way round, there is no let up to the crowds who range as far as the eye can see, behind and in front of us.

And at last something we all recognise, the London Eye comes into view

Young people "having a ball" on the Embankment as we draw close to the 3rd hour on the march. Catch a glimpse of Walthamstow Labour Party banner being carried along behind.

It's about this time that I bump into James Anthony, marching with his UNISON group, and then catch sight of Annie Key's children's banner in the distance, having admired it on FB on the coach on the way in.

We reach Westminster just after 3pm, Twitter messages suggest speeches are well under way at Hyde Park but we are still a long way from there. First rumours of trouble on Oxford Street reach us, but a quick look on the map tells us that we are not going that way, so everyone relaxes.

We walk along Whitehall, pausing to boo loudly outside Downing Street. Chants ring out of "What do we want? Regime change! When do we want it? Now!" It takes an hour to make it this short distance and we reach Trafalgar Square at 4pm. It is absolutely heaving and for a while we are unsure how to progress, there are so many people crammed into the square.

On Regent Street we catch up again with Walthamstow Labour Party - it's a great banner

We turn into Piccadilly where we start to see the evidence of the unrest we have heard reported. The atmosphere changes a little bit, and the street is in shade, it feels chilly. People begin to hug their coats a little tighter around their shoulders. We point out paint spatters and broken window panes on several banks and shops. It's vandalism rather than violence, and it looks to be targetted at "the rich" in general, rather than any particular institutions, a jewellers has a broken window. The Ritz looks like it has been hit by a paintball gun. As we reach Fortnum and Mason the rumours tell us that there is an occupation inside, but from the outside there is absolutely nothing to see. A police van draws up to the kerb but there are no sirens.

Two enterprising and athletic people have shinned up two lamposts and are hanging a "Stop The Cuts" sign across the street.

It's half past four by this time, we have been marching since noon and we are due back on our coach at Wembley at six pm. Hyde Park is still at least another hour away and there is no indication that there will be anyone left making speeches by the time we get there, so we bail out of the march at this point and get the tube back from Green Park.

Happy, tired, satisfied, with very sore feet,we head back to Wembley and the coach. We make it with ten minutes to spare...

.... Back into the city centre at 10.45pm, proud to have been part of one of the biggest public demonstrations in decades.

1 comment:

scouseboy said...

It's just a pity those knobhead anarchists managed to push the reason for the march,the treachery of the con-dems, off the agenda.
The media dedicated about three times the airspace/column inches to their cause than the issues of a quarter of a million people who demonstrated to say there was an alternative.
no marks out of ten anarchists !!