Protesters demonstrated in central London this evening, Wednesday, in protest at Tory chancellor George Osborne’s budget.
Disability rights activists, trade unionists, anti-war campaigners, Labour Party members, students and others marched from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street. One thing united them – fury at the Tories and determination to fight them.
Claire Glasman, a member of the Winvisible campaign group for women with disabilities, joined the protest in her wheelchair. She told Socialist Worker, “The government says it wants to cut people claiming disability benefits by a fifth.
“People are frightened but they’re also very angry. What we’ve seen in Egypt and Tunisia is very encouraging. People are starting to change their situation for themselves.”
Jenny, a PCS union member working for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), described how government cuts would take jobs from low-paid, part-time women workers.
“I’m here because I hate this government and I want to get rid of it,” she told Socialist Worker.
Many people were excited about the upcoming TUC protest in central London this Saturday. Everyone seemed to be coming.
Nathan Akehourst, a sixth form college student, was confident that the Tories can be stopped. “Sometimes it can seem that Britain is different to other places,” he told Socialist Worker.
“But this Saturday we will see hundreds of thousands march in London. In the past, we had the poll tax riots and the miners’ strike. More recently we’ve seen the student movement take to the streets of Britain.
“We can build a mass movement that can stop the Tories in their tracks.”
Others, like Len Aldis from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, pointed out that Osborne’s budget “didn’t say anything about cutting Trident.
“Where I live in Tower Hamlets, the biggest issue is health cuts,” he told Socialist Worker. “There’s lots of money to pay for health care – but the Tories are spending it on Trident and war in Libya.”
International solidarity came from Deniz Yurur, a Turkish socialist, who joined the protest. “There’s no welfare state in my country,” he told Socialist Worker. “My mother has cancer and we have to pay for her treatment. It’s not a good service.
“You have to make sure you don’t lose the welfare state in Britain. It will be hard to get it back.”
The Right to Work campaign and the Coalition of Resistance organised the protest.
At a rally at Downing Street, Paul Mackney from the Coalition of Resistance told the crowd that, “Egyptians and Tunisians have shown how people power can force regime change.”
He congratulated “lecturers for organising strikes this week” and added that “special congratulations go to the students – they’ve shown us what to do.”
Chris Bambery, national secretary of the Right to Work campaign, spoke about how the Tories were in hiding. Protests had been planned to greet communities secretary Eric Pickles this morning, and health secretary Andrew Lansley at lunchtime.
But both ministers failed to show up.
“Either they’re vampires or they’re worried about the protests that hit them wherever they appear,” Chris said.
He described Osborne’s budget as “a budget for the rich” and ended with a rallying call for Saturday’s protest: “On Saturday we will come together in a way not seen since the mass anti-war protests.
“It has to be the beginning of the fight, not the end. The logical next step is that we should all strike together against the Con Dem government.”