Britons protest austerity measures

2011-03-26 16:00

London - Tens of thousands of protesters kicked off a march through London on Saturday in a demonstration against the government's harsh austerity measures, as police deployed in large numbers amid fears of violence.

Huge crowds of demonstrators marcedh along the banks of the river Thames in the British capital to oppose spending cuts introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition to tackle a record deficit.

Trade unions have said more than 100 000 demonstrators are expected to attend, but Len McCluskey, head of the Unite union, predicted the march would exceed expectations.

"Turnout is past our wildest dreams," he told AFP, adding that it could be "the biggest protest that the union movement has seen in London in a generation".

Pubic sector workers, pensioners and students were out on the streets for Saturday's "March for the Alternative", brandishing banners reading "Don't Break Britain", "No to Cuts" and "Defend Our Public Services".

Many families with children were among the protesters and the air was filled with the distinctive low-pitched bellow of the vuvuzela.

Steel bands, choirs and dancers also joined the march, giving a carnival atmosphere to the mass demonstration.

Scotland Yard has deployed around 4 500 officers, mindful of several huge student protests against plans to triple university tuition fees that turned violent late last year.

Cuts of £81bn over five years

Saturday's march was to pass the Houses of Parliament and Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street residence before ending in a rally in Hyde Park to be addressed by opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband.

After coming to power in May, the coalition announced cuts worth £81bn over five years in order to slash a record public deficit it blames on the previous Labour government.

Dave Prentis, head of the public sector union Unison, hailed the turnout which he said was "absolutely enormous and showed the anger of ordinary working people at the government's cuts".

Speaking before the march set off, Education Minister Michael Gove insisted that the protests would not force a change in government strategy.

"Of course people will feel a sense of disquiet, in some cases anger, at what they see happening," he told BBC radio.

"But the difficulty we have as the government inheriting a terrible economic mess, is that we have to take steps to bring the public finances back into balance."

British newspaper reports said between 250 000 and 300 000 were expected, which would make it the largest protest in the capital since around one million people marched against the Iraq war in February 2003.

Barber said the unions would deploy teams of stewards to ensure a peaceful rally because they wanted "nothing to distract" from their message.

The officer in charge of policing the march, Commander Bob Broadhurst, said he hoped for minimal use of the controversial tactic of "kettling" protesters by keeping them confined in small areas.

The cuts announced involve most government departments, with the loss of 300 000 public service jobs and pay freezes for civil servants.

Several student demonstrations descended into violence last year, with one culminating in protesters damaging the car carrying heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.

The latest march takes place just days after finance minister George Osborne delivered his annual budget on Wednesday. He had already announced the cuts via an emergency budget and spending review last year.

NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Africa
 

This is why you should install iOS 8

Check out this video to see what iOS 8 has in store for you!

 
 

For chic geeks...

It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
17 photo illusions that look so real
Check out the speed of this robo-cheetah!
New GIF keyboard on iOS for added fun!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

PHP Developer

Western Cape
Pebble Stone Recruitment Pty Ltd
R25 000 - R35 000 Per Month

Software Engineer (Java)

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R30 000 - R40 000 Per Month

Senior .Net Developer – Strong Backend

Cape Town
E-Merge IT Recruitment
R600 000 Per Year

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Don`t judge so quickly or expect too much, be more accepting and understanding and make space for fun and spontaneity. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.