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March for an Alternative?

March 30, 2011

The Awe inspiring mass of people marching together through London could not fail to incite excitement and hope for an anti-cuts campaign that is evidently gathering pace. The sheer numbers of the march gave you the feeling that anything is possible and that the powers that be will have to start sitting up and paying attention, the message was clear…or was it?

As the events of the day on March 26th unfolded it was easy to get carried away with the successes of the march, the numbers, the media attention it was surely getting and the amount of activists who were prepared to go that extra mile in either occupying businesses, creating art spaces and staying after the march had finished to occupy public space. However the march itself, called by the trade unionists was called ‘March for the Alternative’ and in the cold light of Sunday morning it had started to become apparent to me and others I spoke with that the message of what these alternatives are where unclear. Now I am not suggesting that people involved in the march and other direct action had no understanding of the alternatives to the regressive, ideological and damaging public sector cuts, but instead that the march itself was lacking in its unified clear statement. Banner after banner stating the case for tougher measures to ensure multinational big business and the super rich paid their fair and legal required amount of tax as opposed to tax breaks, where found to be replaced by banner after banner of Trade Unions symbols and slogans. Loud songs and chants, calling for a stop to education and public sector cuts, investment in people, science and green energy where instead replaced with Trade Union sponsored horn blowing, drowning out any vocal message. At times the whole event seemed like a very successful PR stunt by the big trade Unions such as Unison whose visual presence whilst being impressive could most certainly have been more constructive. The march could have easily been interpreted by the media outlets and those who were watching on TV as a demonstration of disgruntled public sector workers, upset by pay disputes and layoffs and not the mass movement of working class people marching not only for an alternative to corrupt neo-liberal politics, but also to highlight the wider implications that this form of dangerous politics presents to society as a whole.

Now I don’t want to sound like I am getting down on the day, it was as already said awe inspiring and I am very proud to have been a part of it. However on future occasions a concertize effort to highlight the message of that there are alternatives to cutting public spending, such as tackling tax avoidance, raising taxes for the super rich, investing in jobs, science and green energy, will be needed in order to win wider support of the population. The neo liberal media outlets are continuing to follow the rhetoric of the cuts being necessary and the only alternative to them is carrying them out slower and not so deep, it is the responsibility of the Unions and the wider anti-cuts movement to draw attention to the real alternatives and this must be achieved with greater coherence if the movement is to be successful.


From → Politics, UK

  1. Daniel Titley permalink

    Do you have a colour version of the photo from this blog?

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