N30 day of action for pensions justice

I made it to about midday yesterday and had to do something. I called Mr R at work.

‘I can’t sit here doing nothing,’ I said, ‘I may not be a public sector worker any more but I need to be there supporting them.’ Mr R sounded utterly  unsurprised.

‘Text me when you’re on your way home,’ he sighed. ‘Oh and try not to get kettled.’ 

I packed water, my camera and a warm hat and was up at Charing Cross within the half hour. I joined the march at The Strand and zipped open my jacket to reveal my lime green Unison t-shirt, a relic from March 26th.

We wandered down to Victoria Embankment where representatives from various unions gave speeches. It was good hearing from ordinary representatives of various professions: the nurse, the probation officer and the doctor proudly in their uniforms. London Mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone popped up for a chat.

Speeches over, we politely filed off back down the road, banners neatly propped against trees. The majority of the marchers headed straight for the pubs for some post rally cheer and the rest of us wandered back to the tube. So much for the notices advising demonstrators to use tubes stations further afield to avoid a crush- I was the only marcher in my tube carriage all the way home.

There was a huge police presence and Trafalgar Square was closed up tighter than  George

Osborne’s purse. I loved seeing hordes of bored police officers climbing into their riot vehicles, McDonald’s bags clutched tightly in their hands.

Like my experience of the March 26th march, this was a polite but angry gathering of ordinary people fed up at having their careers mucked about. And I’m sorry Jeremy Clarkson if think that we should be shot for that. Yes I know you were trying to be ‘funny’ but you were wide of the mark. Oh and that ‘damp squib’ of a strike as the prime minister arrogantly called it saw over 2 million people striking and 50,000 alone on the demonstration in London. The only damp thing about yesterday was the weather. Wake up Mr. C and listen to the people.

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The story of my 26th March march

Thousands of peaceful protesters marched on Saturday and I was one of them. I heard the day described as a protest of two halves: one half peaceful and friendly and the other half violent and aggressive. Guess which half got reported in the media?

 This is the story of my march.

 My day began at the local tube where I met with friends and members of Unison. Some group members donned their Unison tabards, channelling dinner lady chic, and the giant old school trade union banner was hoisted aloft. After gathering at the London Eye (much to the astonishment of the early bird tourists) we moved off to join the main march. It was just after ten am and there were thousands already waiting. We were kept in the road for ages but there was plenty of time to enjoy the carnival atmosphere complete with samba bands and vuvuzelas. The noise was incredible!

 I wouldn’t say we marched: perhaps a gentle stroll is more appropriate with small children toddling along with parents and older children with hand-made signs. Our banner attracted a lot of attention from the press and we joked that we’d be on the front of every newspaper on Sunday. As we passed Downing Street we all booed cheerfully. By this point the police just looked a bit bored and were happy to chat with passing marchers.

 Strangely, there was a huge police presence outside the National Gallery and we joked that perhaps they were worried that we might all rush in, gaze appreciatively at the paintings, make a donation and rush out again. Pouring down Piccadilly, we swapped stories about drinking tea in Fortnum and Mason, not dreaming for a second that it would be occupied and vandalized later that day. What did a nice cup of Orange Pekoe or tin of biccies ever do to anyone?

  A few of us peeled off the main group and nipped into the pub for a swift half and comfort break and, thanks to the knowledge of some local Geography, caught up with the group at Hyde Park. We shared a packet of biscuits and listened as Ed Miliband described us as the big society and cheered as Dave Prentice from Unison thanked us for our support.

 I was home before I knew of any trouble but I’m frustrated that a bunch of dickheads with scarves over their faces spoilt the good feeling of the day. The Observer was the only national newspaper to use a photograph of the march on the front page yesterday. All the other chose to go with pictures of police officers covered in paint or masked protesters attacking Topshop (are you telling me that not a single one of those protesters doesn’t have an item of Topshop clothing in their wardrobes?) Except of course for the News of the World who ran with an earth-shattering headline about Jordan. Cuts? Libya? Japan? Nope, Jordan. And not the country either.

 I marched because I see frontline staff going while middle managers hold onto their good salaries and keep their heads down.

 I marched because I see children, disabled and the elderly suffering because of the cuts.

 I marched because I’ve been made redundant from a job I love.

 I marched because I want to have a voice.

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