Thursday, March 31, 2011

TUC March and Day of Protest

I was pleased to be able to get down to the march last Saturday and to cheer on and talk to some of the protesters as well as taking some photographs of the days events. The scale of the cuts is huge and we don't really know exactly whats going to happen yet, but the arts has just lost millions too and that even though as an industry it contributes far more to the economy than it recieves,
It certainly doesn't make sense, so sadly it leaves us with the clash of ideologies about what society is about.

When I first arrived at the gathering of the march I went over to where the womens block were assembling, at the Royal Courts of Justice. Just over the road were a group of retired Gurkha soldiers and their wives and family members. They were joining the march to protest about the cuts to legal aid funding. Some of the old soldiers started singing and dancing as they waited, a really great group of people.

The march was already filling the embankment as I walked down, it was increadible to see the scale of the protests, now thought to be over half a million people. As I walked over to the Southbank people were still streaming in to join in the march banners and flags flying.

I joined the start of the march at Trafalgar Square and was again struck by the size of the demonstration, it was nearly 4 hours to go past apparantly.I enjoyed some of the banners and placards and the good natured crowd, seeing the range of areas were there are cuts was sobering. There were a lot of people with disabilities on the march, lots of people in wheelchairs, families, all walks of life.

I left for Oxford Street where there was going to be some art protests and was on the street as the Anarchists ran past, smoke bombs, lots of masks, black and red flags and drums, quite an impression. Not wanting to get caught up with the police I carried on and made my way to BHS in Oxford street.

The police having been notified by reading the online info about UK Uncut's protests had police on all the doorways to the shops and busineses targetted, and mostof them were closed. As was BHS when I got there, but protesters were outside with banners and I was lucky to be at the front when the actor Timothy West read a new play with Dominic West, The Banker and His Son, very good.

I didn't have a camera with enough memory for a long video unfortunately. The protest was blocking Oxford street of course and by this point and the road was closed off by police and the Riot police were moving in. As more protesters joined in the Riot police started blocking off the street. Not wanting to be kettled I moved off a little way, but they didn't stop anyone leaving.

A great theatre group, dressed as Robin Hood type characters danced and performed in front of the Riot police and then a group of young women with flower garlands and crowns of flowers started to weave in and out of the police saying they loved them. When they were getting up close and personal it was too much for the macho guys, they broke off and marched quickly down one of the side roads, much to the surprise and delight of the crowds, who were re claiming the streets.

As I left there were groups of young people sitting in the middle of Oxford Street with food, music playing and people dancing. And yes Oxford Street is much better with out any traffic.

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