Hundreds of anti-Tory protesters gathered in central Leeds yesterday (Saturday) so that communities secretary Eric Pickles would know he was not welcome. Students, NHS campaigners and delegations of trade unionists marched from Woodhouse Moor to the Queen's Hotel, where Pickles was due to address the Tory local government conference.
Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the bakers' union, BFAWU, told the marchers, 'Pickles epitomises everything that's evil about the Tories. Arrogance and ignorance are two of his better qualities. He should have been a butcher to make so many cuts.'
Alex, a student from Leeds Metropolitan University, said 'The Tories keep holding their conferences in cities where everyone hates them. It's like they're trying to antagonise people.'
Local branches of the GMB and Unison unions led the march. Cindy Gavin from the GMB spoke to the opening rally. She told marchers that they were giving a message prime minister David Cameron, 'Make the most of your time in Downing Street, because your days there are numbered. The workers are coming to get you.'
People came from across Yorkshire and the north east of England.
Sheila Banks, president of Leeds Trades Council, closed the proceedings with a call to arms. 'I'm a member of the PCS union, and we're really proud to be keeping up the fight against this Tory government.
'It's great to see everyone out here today. I want to see all of you – and all your brothers and sisters and everyone else – on the streets again in your thousands when we strike on 28 March'