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TUC Demo Pics And Words

Suzie Lewis takes the pics; Joan Davies gives a personal view about today's protest

Published on October 2nd 2011.


TUC Demo Pics And Words

AN estimated 35,000 protestors joined Sunday’s TUC-organised Manchester March for the Alternative: a peaceful event timed to coincide with Manchester’s second hosting of the Conservative Party Conference. 

It was a victory for public protest as a vehicle for ordinary people with something to say, and a preference for doing so without injury and damage

Some pundits had feared riots in the streets, but a cursory look at the degree of planning and organisation and the make-up of the march easily dispelled such fears.  

Certainly there were a few hot-heads who, as I write, are trying to continue their occupation of Albert Square, a square not known for being barred to the public, but this group was small in number.  

Standing outside the Midland Hotel as the procession took an hour to pass I observed three groups on the march: a tiny-section of twenty or so masked individuals, a loud and raucous group of students, and the vast majority, just ordinary individuals: families, children and the elderly out for a peaceful afternoon to make their voice publically heard. 

As a TUC demonstration it was dominated by union banners, Unite, Unison, the NUT and UCU, with a strong public-sector focus. 

This was no rent-a-mob crowd; many of the marchers were people you would trust with your lives.  Literally.  

Take Gary Keary, Acting Chair of the Fire Brigades Union, Greater Manchester Brigade.  He talks of a £23 million deficit in financing over the next 4 years and a cut in posts of 250.  He’s not terribly enamoured of the previous government either. 

A group of women NHS clerical workers from Chorley are enjoying their first visit to Manchester’s Castlefield area. But they’re not here to see the sights: they’re passionate about the NHS and fear it being pulled apart. They accept the need for cuts, but want them to be less harsh and directed more at middle-management than at the essential support work they provide. 

_Mg_2745 %28800X558%29A common theme is concern for future generations. 

Mark from St Helen’s, a town once dominated by manufacturing industry, wonders what the future holds for his three children.  His own father, a retired miner born in wartime years, feels sorry for the generations now in childhood. 

“That’s not right,” says Mark, “grandfathers should be confident of a better life for future generations.” 

Gary Nicholl is worried about Sure Start, the scheme that supports families with young children.  The future of the Burnage provision is uncertain.  The service was a superb support to his family as he recovered from serious illness; he wants its future secured to help others. 

Artists are on the march too, musicians and actors believing that there has to be a better way of paying our debts, citing the revenue lost through tax evasion and avoidance as a viable alternative to cutting essential services and support for the arts. 

There are no bankers though. 

The crowd does give them a song: “Oh the bankers caused the mess that we are in,” to the tune of ‘She’ll be coming round the mountain.” 

In fact it’s the most cheerful note on a march, which is fairly subdued.  There does seem to be a resignation, a belief that regardless of the numbers protesting there’ll be no change in policy, and apart from the students the march’s response as it passes the Conservative Conference banners and ‘ring of steel’, is a dutiful booing rather than a chant with any expectation of victory.  

A physiotherapist on her first ever march seemed to express the mood.  After firmly and politely telling one of the few masked protesters exactly what she thought of his decision to hide, she told me there were so many cuts facing her service that “you just have to make yourself heard”. 

The march finished with the usual rally.  

Manchester is an ideal place to hold a party conference and, as its history suggests it should be, also an excellent place to hold a protest.  The policing was friendly, the geography with the First Street site as an ideal finishing point, works well, and even the weather was cooperative.  

It was a victory of sorts too. 

After turbulent scenes on British streets in August it was a victory, and I type this with figuratively crossed fingers, for the art of peaceful protest and the positioning again of street public protest as a vehicle for ordinary people with something to say, and a preference for doing so without injury and damage.

_Mg_2716

 

 

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44 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ProtesterOctober 2nd 2011.

The old woman picture really made me smile

1 Response: Reply To This...
ancient protesterOctober 4th 2011.

The speeches at the rally were really moving and reminded me that we are being ruled by a bunch of public schoolboy millionaires who've inherited, not worked for their wealth. What do they know? We're returning to Toff Britain. Only rich kids will go to uni - the rest of us will care for the sick and sweep the streets + drive their hansom cabs! WELL DONE YOU PROTESTERS, TORIES OUT!!!

Duke FameOctober 3rd 2011.

Most people realise the cuts are needed. These selfish people take to the streets demanding we are taxed more so they can keep what are unnecessary jobs, crazy pension arrangements and cushy employment conditions, they would be better advised to look at what roles they can take to add value to the economy once their jobs go.

AnonymousOctober 3rd 2011.

quite right Duke Fame if it wasnt for 13 years of spend spend spend under the last lot of pathetic chancers there would be not as much need now for cuts cuts cuts.......okay, so those who disagree, when your credit card bill comes in and its slapped with outrageous interest rate charges do you go onto spend on it? or reign in your spending and cut your bills and outgoings? Its exactly what the tories have had to do only the spending has got so out of hand more drastic cuts have had to come about, BUT i also think labour councils are politicking this and cutting frontline services on purpose as they are too dense to sell off property and cut their waste especially here in M/cr instead they give land away! The black holes could, in part be filled with clever budgeting methods i bet. Streamlining is necessary in hard times. Public servants at the town hall still need to go too! why do we need two deputy leaders at the council for instance? Why? Axe one and save the council 50k a year or so? Put it towards meals on wheels for the elderley folk? how many meals would that provide? This is why i dont wholly blame the tories.

the Whalley RangerOctober 3rd 2011.

There will always be collatoral damage, no matter who runs the shop:

Labour has spent spent spent, yes. But large sections of the community now no longer heat with coal or eat chippy dinners.

Raising standards across society has been achieved, but there are without doubt aspects of 'sell-out' (PFI hospitals, schools etc).

If certain sections of society suffer disproportionately from economic decline, there are only two things to do:

support the ones that suffer most
milk the ones that benefit most

In today's competitive world, only those societies that get the balance right will succeed.

On a separate note: I witnessed the procession along Deansgate yesterday, no way were there 35k protesters. Where do these figures come from?

EnglishLordOctober 3rd 2011.

@Duke Fame, Anonymous

The people protesting on Sunday were nurses, teachers and firemen. Hardly 'unnecessary jobs', unless you're planning on not getting sick, needing to educate your kids or getting in an accident. They're hardly overpaid or enjoying 'cushy employment conditions'.

Perhaps you're thinking of the bankers, you know - the ones with massive incomes, the ones who caused the crisis. The ones who got away scott free.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Duke FameOctober 3rd 2011.

Very few of the roles that are being made redundant are Nursing or teaching jobs. The jobs that go are not essential, they are services that are 'nice to have' but not essential.

The teachers etc protesting are upset about their pensions but those pensions are very generous and not affordable.

Getting hot under about some bankers is all door when the horse has bolted. Most of those bankers who got into the risky funds lost their jobs, the bank's shareholders lost their value and ownership with the government, not much else can be done except hoping the managment sorts out the problems so they can be sold back into the market.

AnonymousOctober 4th 2011.

recessions happen, they are an economic certainty. The banking crisis may have triggered this one and may have made it considerably worse but it would have happened anyway, its not all the bankers!

Simon SmithOctober 3rd 2011.

Most of the protestors were public sector owrkers who want the rest of us to keep them in 1970s style job security and pensions while we struggle with the realities of modern economic life.

No wonder our public services are so poor value for money and often of mediocre quality if they are staffed by such selfish, out of touch people who have next to no grasp of economics and behave as if money grows on trees.

AnonymousOctober 3rd 2011.

Most of these protesters were typical ,wanting something for nothing,we had notices on our doors saying the toilets are only for customer use,when they were refused entry they went into "you can't do that mode " had one guy working for the socalist worker who asked to use our internet ,I said sure"buy a packet of crisps" his reply "why should I"
I'm sure I'm going to get plenty of comments telling me I'm wrong,probably from people who have never had to pay anyone a wage.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 3rd 2011.

they didn't loot your place though, did they? those are the ones who want something for nothing, matey... and the bankers.

AnonymousOctober 3rd 2011.

Wow, with that single personal anecdote you've certainly convinced me of the invalidity of the protest.

AnonymousOctober 4th 2011.

I forgot to mention them shouting "fuck off pigs when ever a police car passed them" salt of the earth

AnonymousOctober 4th 2011.

I forgot to add they also shouted "f__k off pigs "every time a police car passed ,salt of the earth

Greater Manchester RunOctober 4th 2011.

10k maximum!

TellyTubsOctober 4th 2011.

I know my maths and have counted to 35,000 before. Not this weekend, though...

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 4th 2011.

There were more people watching Jensen Button

Weby72October 4th 2011.

@ Duke Fame & others

As someone who's worked (white collar) for more than a decade in each of the public and private sectors (private sector since 2000), I can genuinely and categorically say that in terms of how hard one works and general conditions, there's little between the two sectors in my experience. Pay in comparable jobs is generally better in the private sector, pensions better in the public sector. In both sectors there is scant opportunity to loaf.

I can sympathise with anyone who whips themselves up into a jealous frenzy of hate over the public sector, given the black arts propaganda campaign relentlessly waged by certain sections of the media (at the behest of their chosen political party?), but urge you not to be so easily sucked in. You're just falling into their trap.

As for the march itself, it - like it's bigger brother in London back in March - was labelled 'The March for the Alternative'. As in, an alternative to the number of cuts made to the public sector.

I don't think any sensible person can dispute the need to reduce the gap between what the government spends and what revenues it brings in. A budget deficit is unsustainable. Even the marchers and the TUC organisers fully understand this. What they object to is the focus of deficit reduction, which 'saves' £4 in cuts for every £1 raised in extra tax (and most of this tax is raised via the regressive raising of VAT)

There is an estimated £80-120bn each year lost to tax avoidance and evasion. When a tax-dodging scumbag of a retail entrepreneur can take a £1bn loan on his business, then pay his [tax exile] wife a dividend bonus of the same £1bn, the tax lost was immediately c£400m - followed by other losses arising from the interest costs of the loan being offset against profits of the company.

There are many other loopholes exploited by millionaires and corporations to avoid paying their fair share of tax. This shortfall needs to be made up by ordinary people (like me!) paying more tax than we need to, and by cuts to our public services.

A Tobin tax on financial transactions would bring in further revenues. I appreciate the argument that this ideally needs to be global to be effective, but this government appears to oppose even the principle of it, and certainly isn't pushing for it during G20 meetings and the like.

These are the alternatives to swingeing cuts.

But if you want to stick your fingers in your ears and chant "la-la-la, I'm not listening", prefering to demonise ordinary people who are in fear of losing their jobs and the services they rely on, then enjoy your bile-ridden lives.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Duke FameOctober 4th 2011.

The Tobin Tax is a non-starter, it will just send the industry elsewhere which despite the obvoius 'sod em' attitude, the indestry makes huge revenues for the country and safe to say, all those roles invented by the last govt could not have happened without a strong financial sector.

Closing loopholes where possible is all fine but govt has been trying this ofr many years. The loopholes were created by the previous govt BTW - some well intended but that's what happens.

I fully recognise the need for a public sector. There are services that suffer from market failure be that the police to street lighting but the last govt added nearly 800k people to the public's payroll since 1997. I didn't notice society crashing in 1997, in fact growth and employment was very positive so why add all these 'nice to have' services? The ccrows have now come home to roost, we need growth in the economy and that is not going to be created by 'nice to have' services so let's direct investment into areas that will provide growth and economic advantage.

AnonymousOctober 5th 2011.

Duke Fame - how about ever increasing inequalities, which the previous government at least help to ameliorate this its focus on improving public services.

Duke FameOctober 5th 2011.

Anonymous, Ever increasing inequalities is exasperated when we have a worsening economy, the economy was recovering and growing at the end of the 90's into the 00's which alieviates the problem. Prolifigate spending on public services may seem nice to have, ultimately, it crowds out private investment and hampers underlying economic growth and in a downtrun makes inequalities ever greater.

Ther is a fine line between providing a safety net for people & being too generous and removing personal responsibility to help themselves.

The bottom line is that there are some obvious public services such as Nuclear Free Secretariat which do nothing but keep someone in a job. The truth is, for the economy, that role is better off redundant and get the guy doing it to find something else, even if he/she is going to earn less. In doing so, we tax people less, they have more money to spend, they spend it on 'something' and ultimately, the Nuclear Free Secretariat cab re-train & employed to make that 'something' which makes a profit and contributes in tax.

funboi123October 4th 2011.

Im with Dukefame, Simon Smith and anonymous. Im fed up of paying for the piss poor value for money public sector, and if any of it were private, we would all be kicking off saying what shocking value for money it all is.

They do have it bloody cushy. Im not saying we aint all out for the best deal we can get when it comes to our wage, pension etc, but I sure as hell dont threaten strike and go shouting down Deansgate about it when I dont get my own way. The way they all carry on is outrageous. If you dont like it, don't do the job. Because there's plenty of people who would I bet.

Simple as.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 4th 2011.

How do you know exactly that they have it cushy? I don't get the feeling you've ever worked in public services yourself.

Simon TurnerOctober 4th 2011.

funboi123 "The way they all carry on is outrageous" as they said about the Chartists and the Suffragettes... The 35,000 on the march (police estimate, not a figment of anyone's imaginstion) were a cross-section of the Manchester public, as well as allies from other towns and cities. The atmosphere was great, the cause just; bailing out the banks created this crisis, not Labour spending. Yet ordinary people are the ones paying the price, in jobs, and falling living standards.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Duke FameOctober 4th 2011.

To compare the march to the suffragettes is insulting. Suffragettes wanted to be treated equally, these complainants want immunity from reality.

Simon TurnerOctober 4th 2011.

Don't recall "immunity from reality" was a chant or a demand on Sunday. The demonstrators want a fairer society in which a cabinet of millionaires leading a party bankrolled by donations from the financial sector doesn't skew its economic policies towards helping the millionaires and the financial sector, leaving those who are made unemployed or face wage cuts to pick up the pieces.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
It's the city, duffusOctober 4th 2011.

favouritism will be exposed if it occurs, stay alert opposition - but for Pete's sake shrink the vessel!

Duke FameOctober 5th 2011.

You know there have been a lot of people from the financial sector that have lost their jobs, trying to kill the financial sector will do nothing to help the economy. You have to remember that all those 'nice to have' roles that were invented by the last governement were paid for on the back of a bugouning financial services sector and it turns out to be that that grwoth was based on false foundations. We need to get the foundations right rather than destroy the sector. It's the politics of the misinformed.

I'm also concerned that the Labour party are bankrolled by the unions which organised the march. In return, the Labour government managed to create ever increasing modernisation grants to the unions in return for increased funding inreturn for....you get thte picture. That stinks!

the Whalley RangerOctober 4th 2011.

All correct Simon, I guess the following is true:

- people understand that the economy is shrinking at about 5%pa (0.5% BoE base rate vs. 5.5%RPI). Some say it's worse than that.

- society will not accept undue favouritism of the rich in times of decline.

- the poor are undoubtedly more vulnerable than the rich - just look at North Africa, where FOOD PRICES took people to the streets.

- what were the riots all about? An expression of contentedness?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Duke FameOctober 5th 2011.

The riots were about greed and an unwillingness to work hard for rewards.

AnonymousOctober 6th 2011.

Corr

the Whalley RangerOctober 6th 2011.

Correct - greed in all parts of society. Who are the role models?

I could come up with (ordered by class):

1) under: XFactor
2) working: Tevez
3) middle: Dragon's Den
4) upper: Duchess of York

Call me Pierre Bourdieu II, if you like...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Bourdieu

Occupy Wall StreetOctober 6th 2011.

Unbelievable censorship by US media! These protest have been going on for over 2 weeks now and not one 'major' has covered it!

Reminds me of sending students to prison for injuring no one when throwing extinguisher.

The British (independent) justice system clearly knows how to shut everyone up over here...

1 Response: Reply To This...
Duke FameOctober 7th 2011.

Jeez, are you seiously saying weshold alow rioterto throw10 kilo lumps of metal at people and only prosecute them if they actually connect?

What the you know what do think the guy intended in throwing the thing?

I really think you should re-think your values.

IzzyOctober 6th 2011.

Maybe it's because no one in the UK is that bothered given the US news is so, well, US-centric; rarely reporting on anything that does not effect them, however indirectly - unless of course it involves a member of the royal family. These protests against the big, nasty bankers are going on throughout the western world and, although laudable in their objectives, will do nothing to change the minds of Governments who have no choice but to save their economies, no matter how painful it may be. Having said all that, I've seen regular coverage of the Wall Street protest on both BBC 24 and Sky News

1 Response: Reply To This...
Occupy Wall StreetOctober 7th 2011.

Sorry for the confusion Izzy, my first paragragh was a comment on THE US MEDIA de facto censoring their own affairs in the US.

The two last paragraphs were an attempt to portray how the BRITISH are handling their 'Tahrir Square moment'.

Judicial truncheon - very stylish!

Duke FameOctober 7th 2011.

Occupy Wall Street, I really don't see your point.

Are you saying that anyone shold be able to throw a 10 kilo bit of metal at someone but only get prosecuted it it hits them.

That's a ghastly way to think.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 7th 2011.

jail? without previous convictions? give me a break!

AnonymousOctober 7th 2011.

Nicked for 18 months for nicking donuts? A month a donut?

I thought we've been thru' this...

What a ghastly way to show who's boss.

Duke FameOctober 12th 2011.

Sorry everyone should get a free go at attempted murder? Don't be so silly.

As for Donunts, that bloke had only been out of nick for less than a day.

IzzyOctober 7th 2011.

The Wall Street protest is headline news on CNN, but then I suppose most people only watch CNN when they're stuck in a hotel room in some far-flung part of the world :))

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 7th 2011.

Now... it's three weeks down the line

Occupy Wall StreetOctober 7th 2011.

Try and find it in the New York Times...remember them? Wikileaks, The Guardian, Der Spiegel? Usually sound journalists...

EgyptOctober 7th 2011.

How many hours of CONTINUOUS coverage did we get from Tahrir Square?

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