Sunday, 27 March 2011

clinging to the simple idea that fair is righteous.

march for the alternative March 26th 2011

On the tube in the dark with the bustling travellers who are mostly oblivious to the events unfolding up above in the City of London. Feeling excited as we ascend the escalator to Temple Station and the outside world by the river Thames. The day is mild though cloudy and quite favourable for marching. Already the people are thronging together in a huge body. They pour down the streets in torrents of smiling humankind. All ages and ethnic groups joined together by common aims. The little ones with their happy faces steal the show before it has begun.

We have all come to tell the ConDems that the cuts are unfair, unfounded and will remove services vital to the most needy in the land. Of course they know that and most of us know it will take more than a few thousand people marching to deter them from enacting some of the most detrimental fiscal policies for many years. 
People have come from everywhere across the nation and I feel at home with the firemen from North Wales, the nurses from Bradford, off duty police men from Liverpool, youth workers from East Devon, doctors from Scotland, social workers from Somerset and the pensioners, students and the other groups from all over the UK. It is always good to be one of many, united in a common cause. 
Over time our little group came together and we set off down to the river to join the main body of the march. The walk along the north bank of the river Thames was slow but no one minded. Some of us were very glad of the gentle pace. We halted for several minutes at a time, at frequent intervals, due to the massive crowds that grew rapidly as we marched. We were among the last to set out because we waited until our group had assembled. One of our group had travelled from the midlands to be with us and was delayed. Still the people poured on to the back of the march and when I looked back it seemed the column of marchers stretched another mile into the distance.
One group had music pumping out of a bicycle powered sound system. Others played bagpipes and a host of other instruments. We meandered along Victoria Embankment towards Parliament Sq, scene of the Student demo in December. The atmosphere was amazing. People chatted with people from opposite ends of the country and I am certain many friendships were forged here and many networks expanded.
We marched on and after the best part of a couple of hours we had made it from temple tube station to the houses of parliament.
I have never been in a happier crowd. Every one was good natured. The police were chatty and relaxed. Even the police guarding the Territorial Police Headquarters on the embankment were relaxed. No one abused them nor they us though the chants against the government were derisory and tough, as you might expect. I heard no bad language nor did I see any conflict of any kind.
Two little girls played among us in the space people made for them instinctively. People took turns to push people in wheel chairs and it seemed every one was looking out for every one else. It really was a magical place to be. The sense of solidarity was very effecting and powerfully uplifting. I wanted to live there, where there is hope and a tenacious clinging to the simple idea that fair is righteous. 
Things really slowed up and so by the time our little group reached Trafalgar Square we had been on the road for three hours and we knew we wouldn’t get to the rally before it finished. We voted to get a cup of tea around the corner at Charing Cross station.  After having rested for a little while we decided we had represented, flown our flag and stood up to be counted and our tired old bones ached. So now we would all head off in our different directions. I know none of us will forget this day and I feel sure we will come back and soon.
I spoke with some police who were sitting in parked vans by Trafalgar Square. I tentatively suggested that they’d had an easy day. They told me they had been on duty since seven am and would be until the early hours.  This proved to be the case as the few hundred rampaged in the West End long after the March for the Alternative ended.
The policing of the march was a relatively easy task for The Metropolitan Police and The Territorial Police were not needed at all until the violence broke out in the evening. This is where the police appear to have badly failed in bringing these events to a timely end. They didn’t cope at all well.
What ever the press say about it all it was a massive triumph for peaceful protest. This was just the beginning. The fight to prevent some of the most damaging cuts is a long way from over. For an example see the link below.

.....and please watch the video about the NHS , made by Dr John Lister at the link below

If you have photos of the march and would like to use them against the ConDems use the link below for details.

If you were there you will know how vitally important it was that we put feet on the streets and that you played your part. It has been estimated that around 4,00,000 of us stood together for what we believe in. I will remember it forever.

If you were there please share your story in the comments section.

photos by Ivan Millest

p.s. An interesting take on the power of your pound see link below. Please note the link will first open at the Guardian website and then re-direct to the post.



Anonymous said...

It was an honour for us to march with you, Loz & Ivan. A day we will never forget. A shame that most of the press (except the Mirror) focussed on the violent element & dumbed down the peaceful protest. Andrew Marr pointed out that the Murdock papers went for the 'fire & violence' angle because it sells papers.

Murdoch owned papers counted 250,000 people, while other papers estimated 400,000 people.

400,000 very friendly people. We felt among friends from the outset.


Tony & Karen

Anonymous said...

A great day. You summed it up well.
Still a long way to go then.

Ivan said...

First things first , I have to express my gratitude and thanks to Rob, Loz, Tony, and Karen ,without whom I would have been in difficulties. They patiently waited for me when I slowed , constantly kept their eyes on me and kept me safe the whole time....thank you ! I felt privileged to be there on the streets of London with so many peaceful and dedicated people. I won't dwell on the day's events , Rob has done that , my brief is to move to later happenings. The events that occured later were ugly , but not unexpected. The common knowledge was that some were intending to "take" Oxford Street . On the internet , Facebook , and along the route , it was mooted to do so . After the march passed down the roads , some gathered at Trafalgar Square and stayed. By the time the night drew in a crowd of some 500 or so remained. Having 5000 police on the scene it would not have been hard to prevent this inferior sized group from attaining their well publicised goal. but they did not ! The crowd was allowed to move off , almost herded , any containment seems to have been from behind the crowd. My point is, that it was in the interest of the establishment to allow this to happen , to sacrifice a few shop and bank premises in the interest of discrediting the peaceful and justifiable people on the march, and besmirching the honestly held and correct ideals that the day represented. This was echoed the following day on TV by an ex Police Commissioner who stated that " I cannot understand why, given an advantage in numbers of 9 to 1 , the police presence failed to prevent what happened ? "
I have no more to add to that other than a big thanks to everyone who during the day made me feel so right to be there, it was not easy for me to be there due to personal issues , but I can say that I felt very comfortable and safe the entire day , and that goes out to every single human being there..................

Anonymous said...

It was a great day and marvellous to be together with great people.
The trouble AFTER the march was a shame but the 300 or so offenders that caused it were determined to do what they did no matter what.
Tried to meet up with Edgar but we couldn't make it in time.
Strangely we have never felt more safe in London than when we were marching. Every one was kind and considerate and of course, committed to a great cause.
I agree with Edgar when he says " I wanted to live there".
So heres to the next one. If you were not there and could have been - shame on you. If you were there salutations and blessings to you.

Mary and Bob

Anonymous said...

Hey folks the link to: this is what democracy looks like is excellent.
A bit like Hot Phones. If we all send our digi pics of the march to MPs over the next days it will at least get there attention especially if we send lots at once lol.
With regard to the march it would be all too easy to point a judgemental finger at the ones who stayed away but, that is a feature of democracy in action. We can choose.
Though I will say that if you were not there you missed out on a huge fix of human togtherness. It was lovely.
Happy and peaceful campaigning to all.


Anonymous said...

Ivan, my friend, it was a pleasure meeting you. We are coming up to the gig in Wolverhampton in November. So if we don't see you before, we will look forward to meeting up with you there. If you like, give your email address to Rob for him to forward to me & we can keep in touch.


Tony & Karen

Anonymous said...

Hi all
just to say the march was amazing. never seen any thing or felt any thing so good in my life. I am 32 by the way.
I met up with some firemen from Liverpool where I live and stayed with them for the whole march.
Any one who thinks they are getting what they deserve should think again.
Great, fantastic, lets do it all again and next time - lets see even more people turn out.

By the way I roared at the Gaddafi post. You could have been a scouser mate. Very humourous.



Anonymous said...

Fantastic and exhausting day. Really enjoyed meeting such a diverse bunch of folk all of who had the same views but from different angles.

One older woman I was chatting to was marching because her grandson, who has autism, was going to loose his respite service which was the only break his single mother got from his 24 hour care. She told me she had never been on a demo before but would be doing it again.

One of the things that has struck me since Saturday is the number of people who have asked me how I got on and what it was like. I think there were 3 things motivating them
1. They were amazed that I was a woman who marched "alone" (or at least not with people I knew).
2. They genuinely wanted to go but circumstances meant they couldn't (like a heavily pregnant friend of mine)
3. They felt guilty because they felt they should have gone.

I hope those in the third group think again and come next time. I for one will be there.


Anonymous said...

'Feet on the Street' maybe should be our slogan as Edgar obviously liked it. I believe someone who posted on here previously came up with that! Nice one its stuck!

Anonymous said...

Yes! And heres a thought. Possibly as many as 700,000 feet on the street. It's catchy and punchy. T-shirt idea?

What a day! Unforgettable! Agree with every thing every one has said.


Anonymous said...

I too arrived too late to meet up but as others have also described I felt empowered and uplifted by the sense of solidarity the demo engendered.
I'm not however, so 'down' on the 'rioters' as a lot of other folk are (notwithstanding conspiracy theories that they were 'plants' or 'allowed' and so with due caution, and NOT including the ammonia throwers). I thought the occupying of Fortnum's was a hoot and so what if a foreign bank's window got broke and a watering hole of the disgusting super-rich was damaged? Surely saying that they discredited the main demo is buying into the murdoch media's take on it all?
I felt I belonged in the mass of the main demo and that is where I was but my heart was also somewhat with those who got 'stuck in'. I'm not brave enough, tough enough or cavalier enough to risk limb and liberty by joining them but if I was I maybe would.
Nye Bevin said the NHS will last as long as people are prepared to fight for it, well, some folk will fight more literally than others and I don't necessarily condemn them for so doing. I am more than aware that a pandoras box can be opened by such actions and people who resort to them need to be very carefull lest they become worse than those we all oppose.
Some would say that the ruling classes will let people peacefully demonstrate till the cows come home and they have a point. The million of us who marched against the Iraq war remember only too well how our views were ignored. As Tim Lott observed in Saturday's Indo; it was the poll tax RIOTS that finally ousted Thatcher!
As for Saturday's nice and friendly cops, they always are 'nice' when faced with a truly huge demo because they know that a crowd of such size WILL be largely peacefull and if it did turn on them they'd have to run...and run fast. Cops remain the hired muscle of the powers that be and if the circumstances are conducive they'll stick the boot in with relish.
So I for one don't fraternise with police on demos, notwithstanding the fact that they may be decent people on an individual basis.
Thats it then, food for thought I hope. x

Anonymous said...

if you realy think that the violence will get you anywhere then i think you must be mad.all the violence will do is put more public opinion against the cause that you are marching for.i for one cannot back anyone who either agrees with, or takes part in the violence.



Anonymous said...

Pacifism is an 'ideology' and a fine and beautiful one it is however, Mick what would you do if you had a daughter raped by Gary Glitter and then you bumped in to Gary Glitter? You see the government are metaphorically raping this country. Some people's tolerance levels are not as high as others. Violence is never a positive action but there are situations in which there is no other way. Opinions will vary but one thing is for sure; if everybody in this country stood against the government there would be no need for violence we would have full on people power which is the best power in the world. but sadly it is always left to the minority of people to try to affect change through peaceful protest or sadly smashing windows and so forth. Peaceful protest should ALWAYS be the first port of call but what if it repeatedly fails. The press will always milk any incidents that sour an otherwise peaceful march as someone else on here says it sells papers. If someone had gone naked on the march or someone had gone with a pro ConDems banner then the press would have moved in on them for a story. Those in Fortnam and Mason walked in through open doors and sat on the floor. It is only because of some stupid laws we have with regard to trespassing that there was police involvement.

I am not for one moment comparing the rape of a child to what is going on politically in this country I merely wanted to point out to Mick that there must be a point at which he would not be able to take a non violent stance. Or maybe he would in which case he is a better man than me!

Anonymous said...

you cannot compare the rape of a daughter with the as you put it metaphoric rape of our country.i agree that what the condems are doing is criminal,but i still do not believe that violence will do our cause any good what so ever. i agree that the press will always latch onto the negative,but we dont have to give them more ammunition. none violence does work, we have already stopped the sell off of our forests,a small victory i admit but a victory none the the way i dont think i could hold back if my daughter was raped.


Anonymous said...

Mick I totally respect your views and for the record I agree with you with regards to violence. I cannot see myself ever resorting to violence and am proud to say I never have in my whole life so far. I think if my children or those close to me were hurt in anyway I would find it difficult to hold back too. I question the violent actions of some but I also can kind of see why they reach a point where they cannot take anymore in any given situation. The press could be considered a negative force with regard to their coverage of the march - however, there is a lot to be said for NO PUBLICITY IS BAD PUBLICITY.

I do have a bit of a problem with us being the only country that has to seek approval from those we are portesting against to protest against them! Other countries rise up ad hoc.

I think we should arrange a peaceful sit in somewhere in London. Not break any rules but not seek approval to do so. A large group of us should just peacefully arrive and sit down. The fact that we are sitting down shows in itself our peaceful intentions we are not MARCHING like any army. We are not threatening in any way. What do other people think about this idea?

Anonymous said...

There seems to be more than a muddling of metaphors here. What exactly are you for and against? Invasion of Libya but not Iraq? Cuts to the police but not public services(or vice versa). No increase to council tax. Tax the rich and give us more jobs. Ban logical thought. AV or not AV that is the question? Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to pursue Nick Clegg etc.

A peaceful protest just panders to the patronisation of the Government. Aren't we civilised? We must be, David Cameron said so. Were the images of the smashing of Santander's window broadcast on Libyan television and described as the start of a rebel uprising? Or, come to that, on Spanish television? Why do we expect everybody in the world to understand our little English foibles?

Can the Doctors of Abdel Baset Al Megrahi please provide details of their treatment to the NHS?

Why do we only intervene in countries that have oil or supply us drugs?

Why can I get the morning after pill in Swansea but not in Swadlincote? Why would I want it? Is it my right?

Why has the book club been cancelled?

Gary Glitter?

Try to guard against becoming poodles.

Peace through pragmatic thought.

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is why hardly any of you put your name where your mouth is? I mean any of you could be anybody - you could even be Edgar!!!!!!!!

Mike Yarwood

edgar broughton said...

No Mr Yarwood, it is not me.

Ivan said... Anon. 31st March 19.12..... I did not in any way refer to the march as being "discredited" , my point was that it was the aim of the establishment to discredit it ! ....and it worked , as you pointed out , Murdoch's empire fed that to the masses. Now I had no truck with that opinion , but the fact is that the majority of the population only had those reports to form any opinion from , and they took it hook, line , and sinker ! Does anyone remember the Sun's "Bernie grant bans black refuse bags as racist " headline ?............... it was a fiction ....admitted to in a fifteen word statement on page 152ish in a later edition . But, the damage was done , it's readers believed !
That the (overstated) riot was allowed and went into print is indelibly stamped on the nations mind , it gave the government the ammunition , and by god they are going to use it , Theresa May has fired the first missiles in the war on and against our right to demonstrate.............about anything !
But, I didn't enter this site to waste my time on the likes of those who describe any such important happenings as a "Hoot" , that was what " Wharton, Cherry and Co." got up to at Greyfriars !
My object in this post concerns the Welfare minister on TV stating that "we can't have disabled people living in houses too big for their needs" with a knowing smile across his visage !.... Consider... A wheelchair-bound lady living in a two bedroomed converted flat with her son.... he moves out to start a family..... she now faces a 15% cut in housing benefit (25% if there are 2 spare rooms)............ say the rent is £200 weekly , that gives a saving to the benefits of £30 , She has to use £30 of her living allowance to make up the shortfall. The choice ? Struggle on and face the chance of falling into arrears and eviction , or move........... To move to a smaller flat would then cost the taxpayer up to £20,000 to convert the new place !...and furthermore , around £10,000 to return the original home for a "normal" person's requirements.......... That,s £30,000 (they know that*) over a two month period . But you say ! the benefit savings ?... would take take 40 years to recoup, with the savings result of £0,000,000,000. ........... but you & I will only ever be told of the "savings" Now I know that's a worst case scenario , but at only 1% , and that out of 100,000 + cases is an immediate cost of ............. you work it out, it ain't hard but I can't bear to write down the figure !

*( I'm puzzled ? just what level of income would be needed to gain a benefit from "credit rating" info ?)

Anonymous said...

...What if they are all Mike Yarwood....even me !

Anonymous said...

.... Wow... great pictures Rob ! ...that guy should be a photo-journalist !

Anonymous said...

What if all the Anonymous people are not people but one person? What if they are all Mike Yarwood? Or Mike Yarwood impersonating others or others impersonating Mike Yarwood and just because a person puts a name does not mean it is their REAL name! One person could be on here typing away to make it look like loads of people comment. But if we took it that people were giving their real name when they give a name then we could build a community of likeminded souls rather than all this Anonymous.

To whoever, I don't know who you are as you were Anonymous, put you do not come on here to waste time with people who refer to the march as a hoot. Yep totally agree with you there!

Arthur Scargill AKA Mike Yarwood

Anonymous said...

My earlier blog was an attempt to raise serious points and broaden the debate and I'm glad it at least produced a vigorous response.
To Mick; I certainly do not condone violence against people - hence my caveat about the idiots who threw ammonia.
To Edgar (and 'Arthur Scargill'); Describing the non-violent symbolic occupation of a glorified grocers as a 'hoot' (I didn't mean the whole demo Arthur) may well come across as overly glib and flippant and your point is well taken. I was merely attempting to counterbalance and demistyfy the equally ridiculous "dastardly anarchists destroy London..." type media hysteriafest which followed last Saturday.
I try to judge each case on its merits and I don't necessarily decry all forms of direct action (just as I didn't decry the Greenham womens direct actions all those years ago).
Anyway, I trust we're all on the same side of the fence here despite inevitably having some different opinions about the tactics used against those we oppose, it aint easy and there's no easy answers.

Love, peace and ...success!

ps; For a brilliant up to the minute protest song check out the 'rapping binman' and his anti Andrew Lansley rap on you-tube.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, misread the authorship of the blog I just responded to. Should have been addressed to Ivan.

Anonymous said...


You speak the most sense on here in my humble opinion even more so than me. I agree the press reporting can be a 'hoot' but not that any of the march was but I see where you are coming from. Its not always easy to articulate on a little space like this.

I notice nobody has commented on the idea I raised of a peaceful sit in somewhere in London neither does anybody seem to want to tackle the Anonymous issue. Maybe some of the Anonymous persons are armchair supporters of the call for an Alternative?

I hope we are all on the same side though sometimes feel this is just another Facebook or Twitter where the people only exist on these sites and do not extend to the REAL world - some are in the real world as they went on the march and it is clear to see they take an active and very real part in proceedings but are they just a small percentage of an otherwise imaginary community who exisit on here in word only and not deed?

Ben Elton (AKA Arthur Scargill AKA Mike Yarwood)

Anonymous said... mitty,

10 rebels dead, killed by our coalition, half a million quid per missile.

2 missiles equals one CAT scanner. One missile equals 10 thousand book clubs.

The Condemns welcome the protest marches. Good democracy. Tick it off. Ignore. Antiseptic protest.

Ed Miliband is a joke.


Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Howard Beale

Ivan said...

... Timo , thanks for the reply to my criticism . I was not in the "grocers" myself , if the "hoot" was the peaceful occupation then okay ..... but... my only read on it WAS from the media , and that reported not a peaceful sit-in , but destruction of the store and terrorizing the staff & customers , so said one Boris Johnson ...... so you see my point about the use of the printed word and the power it contains.That is the best ammunition against us , even if it's a pack of lies.
I fully understand that anger and frustration explodes into direct action , and I will not deny the right of people to attack the targets that infuriate them , it has it's place , and I don't infer that such actions hi-jack peaceful protest either...... on the contrary , that action itself is hi-jacked to be used against us as a whole !
I'll be there again next time, maybe see you there too Timo , shoulder to shoulder ....

edgar broughton said...

weigh a man on just scales
find out what drives his ambitions
and what he believes in
acknowledge that which he gives freely
know what he takes and why

if he is your enemy he must not know it
befriend him as best you can
ignore his small offences against you
get to know him and his habits
it is always to your advantage to be kind

when he stands beyond the line
that separates you both then
invite him to cross over in peace
when he ignores your positive entreaties
mark and remember it well

when he comes in the night for battle
you will be awake and ready
when he offers you mercy if you will surrender
and says he doesn’t wish to give you hurt
feign a token submission and cut him down