Last weekend I traveled down to London to take part in the anti-austerity march, organised by the People’s Assembly. I have written before about how saddened I am to live in a nation with a government determined to destroy our economy, union and democracy with the ‘wrecking ball’ policies of austerity. I felt I had to do something. In the 21st century human beings still want to live in communities, with support for those who struggle from those with the ability to help, because, simply, everyone benefits from mutual arrangements.
I hadn’t been on a protest march in some years, they haven’t changed greatly. Fortunately, this one was well-organised and well policed, which makes a change. It’s always refreshing to be able to sing and dance in the streets of central London, when normally this is impractical due to the traffic. There were the usual hard left groups, leafleteers and banners. There were also lots of more ordinary people with their families. The weather was good and an enjoyable day out.
The march ended in Parliament Square, where there were rather too many speeches, especially for the elderly and young children on there feet in large crowds for 5 or 6 hours. Indeed, I left myself before the likes of Russel Brand came on. Both the speakers, such as Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Corbyn and Charlotte Church and the talk on the march was that the political left and centre, focussed on the theme that too much effort is expended on preaching to the converted and factional differences. The theme of unifying around what we all agree on and taking the debate and listening to those on the right, to formulate evidence based solutions to the problems Britain faces.
The reaction from right-wing media has been weak, highlighting the need for sensible open discussion. The attack from the right, has seemed to focus on abusive name calling, attacking the speaker, rather than what they say and the usual rhetoric of easily disproven premises. I would probably feel a bit easier if the right were at least making a cogent case for austerity, perhaps they are afraid to admit to themselves that they’re wrong?, which is perhaps the right response to the abuse.
It was very sad to see that the Cenotaph was walled off, presumably to ensure that cretins didn’t deface the war memorial, as occured a few weeks ago. A sad irony that the feeling of the marchers was that soldiers in the second World war had fought for the freedom and democracy that the march was itself fighting for.
Finally, there was also much debate about Jeremy Corbyn running for the Labour leadership. I hope he succeeds. It’s about time Labour re-established itself as a broad coalition of the left, with a leader whose heart is at least in the right place. Like many since 1997, I had given up on the Labour party. Surely it’s better to negiotiate and compromise from a clear position rather than the mush of ‘New Labour’.
Maybe, what should happen is a parting of the ways? The Blairites can split and join a centre-right LibDem party, whilst the centre-left LibDems can switch to the Labour party, this would at least make it coherent what the parties stood for.
It’s about time the British people genuinely engaged with politics, rather than allowing the populace to get side-tracked by the media machines with their spin and focus on peripheral issues, rather than big issues of how a nation os to cope with the challenges of the 21st century.