Saturday 26 March saw a magnificent protest as at least half a million people marched, danced and took direct action in London against the ConDem Coalition’s austerity measures and cuts. Thousands of Bristolians attended, travelling down by coach, train and car, and some could be found in attendance at most of the range of protests that occurred across the capital from early in the morning until late at night.
Many thousands clearly put a lot of time and effort into their protest, with a stunning array of homemade placards, banners and imagery. Whilst there was virtually no pro-NewLabour propaganda, many made clear their rejection of not just the cuts, but the ConDem Coalition and indeed capitalism too.
NewLabour hijack thwarted
Despite the best efforts of the TUC and NewLabour leadership, NewLabour had a very bad day. The TUC had worked hard to keep even moderately radical voices off the Hyde Park rally platform, with the likes of RMT leader Bob Crow and Green MP Caroline Lucas not allowed to speak because of their non-support for NewLabour. Stupid NewLabour leader Ed Millibrand gave a poor and contradictory speech. Claiming to be a part of and proud of the anti-cuts campaigns, he proceeded to state clearly that NewLabour would in any case make cuts, just like the Coalition, and indeed just like the many NewLabour councils implementing cuts across the country. The idiot even claimed to be part of a history of protest that included the Suffragetes, Nelson Mandela/the ANC, and the black US civil rights campaign, but later condemend all and any forms of direct action that involved absolutely any sort of property damage or violence, thereby displaying his utter ignorance of the tactics used by the groups he mentioned – which included disrupting meetings, breaking windows, non-compliance, mass civil disobedience, occupations and of course the clandestine armed struggle of the ANC. He clearly forgot the Suffragettes window-smashing day of anger in Picadilly in 1913, and their physical attack on Winston Churchill at Bristol station!
Fortunately Millibrand’s message of capitulation and cowardice was drowned out by the many thousands who took part in actions across London. From early in the morning people converged on well-publicised autonomous feeder marches to the main march, joined by many other impromptu feeder marches as protesters poured out of coaches, trains, buses and stations, and took over the streets. By noon it was almost impossible to reach Embankment, and side streets leading to it were virtually blocked for miles around.
Anarchists and other direct actionistas stormed ahead
The mainstream media & TUC’s attempts to blame the black bloc for hijacking the main march and causing trouble are pathetic, and completely ignorant of the facts. We dont need their permission to protest, and we dont ask, and nor did tens of thousands of others. There were many ‘well publicised in advance’ other protests arranged for Saturday, and they duly took place, along with many other smaller actions by people enthused by the fighting spirit of the day. The enormous size of the TUC march contributed to their effectiveness, as people became bored by standing squashed and still on Embankment and took off to find something more active to do. Yes anarchists took part and played a leading role in some, but so did many other unknown and un-named radicals, along with many others who were enthused by events around them.
A quick walk around central London that day demonstrated a vast array of people of different ages, genders, ethnicity and ability getting stuck in in the ways they felt most comfortable – walking in the streets or dancing behind mobile sound systems, blocking shop entrances and occupying premises, dropping banners, and yes, attacking directly the symbols of wealth and greed and the state agents who are paid to defend them. That is diversity of tactics, and if we employ them along with others (such as strikes) we have a chance of smashing both the ConDem Coalition and capitalism itself. As anarchists we make no apology for knowing this.
For sure the large black bloc that left the main march and stormed the west end around 1pm was an amazing sight and experience, unseen in this country as never before, and on its own terms it was pretty successful. But it was just one of many tactics employed by anarchists on the day. Others spent time distroing propaganda papers and flyers, providing legal support to counter the collaboration of the TUC & Liberty with the police, handing out free food, providing music and dancers, carrying placards & banners on the main march, walking with their union or community group, providing on-the-spot reports for independent media, and much more besides. Diversity of tactics across our movement, and respect for what others do.
Here are a few reports & comments from other anarchists on the day:
Bristol AF – local group’s direct and clear statement.
Ian Bone’s blog – once the old class warrior stops wetting himself with excitement over the black bloc, he goes on to make some spot on comments.
WAG – London’s most active public anarchist group.
SolFed – the Liverpool group’s day out in London.
Londinium – well written anonymous report, though with couple minor flaws.
Black Bloc debate – 2 articles worth a read. There are many more out there, read them, and act.
Our potential strength terrifies them
It is absolutely in the interests of the bosses and the state, the ConDem Coalition, NewLabour, the corporate media, and sadly the TUC, to keep us divided and disempowered. They all have so much to lose. They look around the world at the uprisings against repressive dictators and corrupt money-grabbing regimes and they tremble with terror. What people have been told was impossible, is proving very possible, it is happening. We can do it too. We need to blow away the obstacles and divisions put in front of us, ignore the false aspirations of celebrity culture and the failed therapy of debt-based unnecessary consumption, kick through the fear of taking on power and break out of the 24 hour surveillance culture. We, ordinary men and women, can achieve collectively whatever we want, we can be as free as we want to be. They know this and it terrifies them. The only question worth asking is – when are we going to start?
(This article written by 1 member of the bookfair collective. All pics internet scavenged)