I went to the March For The Alternative last Saturday. It was a protest march through London… a protest march against cuts the Government are forcing onto local authorities, including libraries. A few hundred thousand people turned up. I can’t be sure of the exact numbers, as indications in the media vary so much.
My girlfriend had helped me with my placard, which I’d built from an empty box of toilet paper… it seemed appropriate!
I didn’t know what the march was going to be like. It was my first, but for many reasons I felt it was important that I was there. I was hoping to meet up with other library campaigners, especially those involved in Voices For The Library.
However, due to the crowds, I didn’t manage it. It didn’t matter though – I may not have known the people around me, but we were all there for the same reason.
I got to Waterloo Station by 10.30am and started the march at about 11.30am. The only celebrity marcher I saw on route was Billy Bragg. Nice to see him, especially as he has been a keen supporter of libraries.
Starting from Embankment, the march went along the Thames and past various political landmarks, including The Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus.
The people who came along were from right across the social spectrum and age ranges. They were all there to make the point that these cuts are ridiculous.
I had intended to tweet highlights along the way, along with photographs, but I had real problems with my phone. I only managed to get a signal for about 5 minutes along the whole route, so that plan failed! The photos I took are available on Flickr. It was good to catch up with tweets and photographs later in the day that other campaigners had sent out.
I eventually got to the Hyde Park rally at about 3.15pm. I listened to a few speakers talking about cuts to NHS, care and services supplied to immigrants. It was interesting to hear about other areas of public services, as I’ve been concentrating on cuts to public libraries. However, by about 3.45pm I was getting a bit fed up by the fact that I’d not met anyone I knew and may not do, as I didn’t know where anyone was and the battery on my phone was about to go kaput!
But then I got a phone call from Mick telling me which pub a few of them were in. Hurrah! So, I headed off in the right direction and as I was crossing the road at Hyde Park I bumped into original Voices For The Library founder and Friends Of Gloucestershire Libraries campaigner Jo Bo Anderson with her family! What are the chances of bumping into them amongst a few hundred thousand protesters and what a nice bit of serendipity. 🙂 So, I got the chance to catch up with Jo and then meet Mick, Anne, Simon, Gareth in the pub. A great way to top off what was, on the whole, a positive and successful march… and I haven’t thrown my placard away… just in case I need it again soon. I hope I don’t, but that would be too good to be true.