Saturday, 26 March 2011
Anti-Cuts March, London
"This has been Middle Britain speaking," said the TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber. Well, maybe some of it, Mr. Barber, but not this bit of it over here in Suffolk. This part of "Middle Britain" and its families view the chaos that took place in London today with distaste. It's claimed that small groups hijacked the main march and broke away to carry out their illegal activities, but the march itself gave them the opportunity to do so, and also the cover into which they could disappear afterwards.
None of us want to see cuts in Public Services, but if you haven't got the money you can't spend it without running up massive debts and eventual bankruptcy. What holds true in an individual life holds true with the national life. It's the same cry that the churches are making to the Diocese as it continually presses our congregations to increase their giving so that mission may go ahead, completely forgetting that the existence of the ancient church building in the centre of its community is mission in itself.
I was in London this morning, but took the opportunity to make my way to Liverpool Street station well ahead of time so as to miss the expected mayhem. I walked across Hyde Park from Kensington to Marble Arch to catch the tube. The Hyde Park police station was a hive of activity with coach-loads of uniformed officers getting ready for the day. The tents and mobile toilets were set up on the lawns, and at Marble Arch itself there were several stands with red "Socialist Worker" flags fluttering and copies of their paper being touted to bemused tourists. I made it along the Central Line with no problems. At Liverpool Street a small group of "Socialist Worker" students (is not that self-contradictory?) were massing ready to march down to the centre, but I slipped away north-east on my train, the only occupant in a 1st Class carriage (this luxury just a couple of pounds more than 2nd class travel).
Brendan Barber said he "bitterly regretted" the violence, adding that he hoped it would not detract from the massive anti-cuts protest. He told the Press Association: "I don't think the activities of a few hundred people should take the focus away from the hundreds of thousands of people who have sent a powerful message to the Government today. Ministers should now seriously reconsider their whole strategy after today's demonstration."
The trouble is, Mr. Barber, despite the laudable rhetoric on your march posters (as above), I don't see any credible practical alternative plan being offered by your side in this debate.