Marching against austerity

2015 Austerity March Green PlacardsLocal Greens were out in force at the End Austerity Now demo on 20 June. Trevor Jones reports:

A confession. I have not been politically active for a long time and haven’t been on a protest march since the early 1990s. It was about that time that I let my Green Party membership lapse, too.

So, here I was, hotfoot from Monday’s Reigate Green Party meeting, the prodigal returning to the fold, sat on the steps of the Royal Exchange, watching the crowds build, the Green Party bloc just in front of me to the left (appropriate).

It has been easy to get disillusioned, cynical or defeatist in the light of the Conservative Party’s victory in the General Election but the sheer number and diversity of the marchers filled me with hope for the future.

As well as the splendid historic trades union banners, the standard party banners and the placards, there were any number of home-made, witty and insightful ones (not to mention just plain rude, but to the point).

A force on the political scene

Some things remained the same, for example, the sheer number of socialist organisations, each with their own paper (great to see the Communist Party of Great Britain, Marxist Leninist still going). One very obvious change though was the sheer size of the Green Party bloc, which shows just what a force on the political scene the party has become while I have been away.

2015 March green placards 2We marched from the Bank of England to Parliament Square. I have no idea what time the head of the march set off, but the Green bloc did not leave until just before 2pm. I arrived in Parliament Square just before 3pm (I am a fast walker) and the speeches were well under way.

I was in time to hear Caroline Lucas speak. What an incredible asset to the Green Party she is, the best Parliamentarian by a distance and a clear and forceful public speaker. Unfortunately, the one downside to an otherwise amazing day was that the public address system was far from perfect and, unless you could find a good vantage point, much of what was said could not be clearly heard. Watch Caroline’s speech here

A once in a generation opportunity

So, what next? For me, the strongest message was that it is vital that those organisations opposed to the artificially imposed austerity programme of the Conservative government find ways of working collectively to challenge the cuts and develop practical initiatives to counter them.

For the Green Party, we must recognise that, although we only have one MP, we are now a large player on the political scene, with respected commentators and a rapidly growing membership. This may be another “once in a generation” opportunity and we must work hard to take it.


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