Follow London's Biggest Demonstration In A Decade As 300,000 Protest Austerity And Public Sector Cuts

Tyler Durden's picture

After leading to the collapse of the Portuguese government, anti-austerity anger is now ramping up at the very heart of the old continent, where the biggest demonstration in over a decade has struck in London. Per the Guardian: "More than a quarter of a million protesters against public sector cuts are expected to flood central London today in the biggest political demonstration for nearly a decade. Police sources, normally cautious about estimating numbers, said last night they were braced for up to 300,000 people to join the march – far higher than previous forecasts from TUC organisers. More than 800 coaches and at least 10 trains have been chartered to bring people to the capital from as far afield as Cornwall and Inverness. The Metropolitan police, under fire for their use of kettling in previous protests, said "a small but significant minority" plan to hijack the march to stage violent attacks. Organisers, however, insist it will be a peaceful family event. Union members are expected be joined by a broad coalition, from pensioners to doctors, families and first-time protesters to football supporters and anarchists. Ed Miliband said the government was dragging the country back to the "rotten" 1980s. Labour is calling today's event the "march of the mainstream"." Some of the protesters, already pigeonholed as "anarchists", have already become unruly as a splinter group has formed on the iconic Oxford street where it is engaged in altercations with the Police, including throwing smoke bombs, lightbulbs filled ammonia.

The protest can be followed in real time on Sky News below.

The Guardian also has a live blog of the protest that can be followe here:

Some of the most recent entries:

1.44pm: Richard Evans has been talking to PA News about his 166 miles trek from Cardiff to join the march.

 

Evans, a PCS union rep who was interviewed by the Guardian about his protest earlier this week, said the walk was worth it although his feet were "very sore".

"I wanted to encourage people to get on a bus. I think the best way to do that is to go a step further.

"The
whole point of this is the government looks again at the cuts. I'm
hoping there is enough people here to make them realise when you're in
the position you're in - in the coalition government - you need to think
again. With this number of people, the government have to take notice. "

1.39pm: Paul Lewis has just tweeted about police penning in protesters outside Downing Street.

1.39pm: Paul Lewis has just tweeted about police penning in protesters outside Downing Street.


.bbpBox51634954513301500 { background: url("http://a3.twimg.com/profile_background_images/93269701/manchesterguardia...") repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(208, 245, 235); padding: 20px; }p.bbpTweet { background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(255, 255, 255); padding: 10px 12px; margin: 0pt; min-height: 48px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-size: 18px ! important; line-height: 22px; -moz-border-radius: 5px 5px 5px 5px; }p.bbpTweet span.metadata { display: block; width: 100%; clear: both; margin-top: 8px; padding-top: 12px; height: 40px; border-top: 1px solid rgb(230, 230, 230); }p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author { line-height: 19px; }p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author img { float: left; margin: 0pt 7px 0pt 0px; width: 38px; height: 38px; }p.bbpTweet a:hover { text-decoration: underline; }p.bbpTweet span.timestamp { font-size: 12px; display: block; }

Reports of "light kettle" at Downing Street and rolling shop occupations at Picadilly #march26 #26marchless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

1.31pm:
Activists from Ukuncut, the peaceful direct action group that has
closed down more than 100 high street stores accused of tax avoidance,
are moving into position on Oxford Street. They are planning 14
different occupations of high street stores accused of tax avoidance,
Matthew Taylor writes.

A spokesman just
said there were about 200 people moving towards their various targets
with more expected to join in the next half an hour.

Meanwhile
the main march just gets bigger. People are still streaming across
bridges to join from south London while others are making their way from
the north.

Bernard Goyder, a veteran of last year's student protests, said he had been "blown away" by today's turnout.

"This
couldn't be any better. I have never seen such a wide diverse group of
people together. It dwarves anything I have seen before. It is much much
bigger than any of us were expecting"

1.15pm: Tom Wills, a student journalist based in Brighton, has posted a set of photos from the march on Flickr, which give a sense of the mass turnout.

1.10pm: EastLondonLines, a news website run by the journalism department of Goldsmiths, has posted this Twitpic, which shows the protesters marching past police lines near Parliament.


Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis Photograph: Sarah Lee

1.04pm: Paul Lewis has sent through an update, describing the wide range of groups who have joined today's protest.

"Standing
here watching hundreds of thousands of people stream past, you get a
real sense of the broad coalition against the government. I noted down
every banner that past through over a couple of minutes.

"Somerset
Teachers Association, Vulnerable Chinese Migrants Association, Society
of Radiographers, Prison Officers Association, Don't Cut Out The
Disabled, Southend On Sea Unison Branch, Ipswich Labour Party, Cut
Trident, Nurses Uncut, Met Police Group PCS Union, Calderdale Division
of the NUT, Chelsea Anti Cuts Alliance, Colchester NHS SOS, South Ribble
Children, The Bohemian Storm is Rising, Parents Alliance of Community
Schools, Isle of Wight Uncut."


Matthew Taylor

1.02pm: Matthew Taylor says thousands of people are still joining the march, with the total number estimated at around 400,000.

"I
am now on a footbridge overlooking the Embankment and people have been
streaming underneath us for about an hour. People are queuing as far
back as I a can see and tens of thousands more are still arriving from
side streets. Organisers are suggesting there could be as many as
400,000 here today. That is impossible to verify at this stage. But it
is clear that this is a very big demo."

1.00pm: While this photo from Mary shows crowds gathering at Embankment.

12.58pm: This photo by Mary Hamilton pokes fun at undercover police officers - whose activities have recently been investigated by the Guardian.


Undercover police assembly point on the anti-cuts march in London

Undercover police assembly point on the anti-cuts march in London. Photograph: newsmary/twitpic

12.45pm: Journalist Mary Hamilton - aka newsmary - has been posting photos of the march on Twitpic.

12.35pm: The Public and Commercial Services Union has set up its own live blog of the march.

12.30pm: Here's a map of the march route



View March for the Alternative Route in a larger map

...

9.15am: Good morning and welcome to the Guardian's live coverage of the mass protest in London against the coalition government's public sector cuts.

Around 300,000 people are expected to join the March for the Alternative organised by the TUC,
the biggest union-organised event for over 20 years and the largest in
the country since the protest against the Iraq war in 2003. More than
800 coaches and 10 trains have been chartered to bring people to the
capital from as far afield as Cornwall and Inverness.

Union
members are expected to be joined by a broad coalition, from pensioners
to doctors, families and first-time protesters, to football supporters
and anarchists. My colleague Matthew Taylor has written a guide to all the organisations - both official and unofficial - who will be taking part.

The
Metropolitan Police believe a small minority will try to hijack the
anti-cuts march to stage violent attacks on property and the police. The
TUC organisers of the event say they have organised a family-friendly
demonstration with brass, jazz and Bollywood bands. But there are
concerns that unofficial feeder marches, sit-down protests and a takeover of Trafalgar Square could turn from peaceful civil disobedience into stand-offs with the police.

The march assembles on the Embankment from 11am but it will still be leaving at 2pm and possibly even later. The TUC has drawn up a set of tips for those planning to join the march.
The protest will culminate in a rally in Hyde Park. Guardian reporters
Matthew Taylor and Paul Lewis will be out on the streets covering the
protest as it happens.

If you're at the demo and want to send me
any comments - or share any pictures, audio clips and videos - you can
contact me either on david.batty@guardian.co.uk or on Twitter - @David_Batty