Fortunately for me, the anti-austerity protest organised by The People’s Assembly was taking place the very weekend I’d be returning from my austerity conference in Kent. This meant I could combine the conference with a spot of protesting (academia should never distance itself from activism, in my opinion).
The feeling, coming out of bank station and seeing the already mass of people that had gathered there, was immense. The Facebook group said 70,000 people would attend, and 250,000 turned up; families with their kids in buggies, disability activists, some in wheelchairs, community groups against the cuts, a surprising number of communist groups, Unions, and even a sizeable group of Black Bloc enthusiasts (although their numbers were nothing like this event I accidentally got stuck in the middle of in Copenhagen last year).
Rather than marching with one specific group, I found it more fun to meander along to Westminster alone, taking in all the different posters and getting a feel for the different kinds of groups, chants and posters that were making the journey from the central of finance in the city to the centre of governance. It was a truly inspiring event, and while I’m under no illusion that this one protest, and the simultaneous ones taking place in other parts of the country on that day, will make a dent in the pro-austerity logic of the government and general populace. But we must begin somewhere, and peaceful protest, hopefully continuing to grow in size, is as good a place as any to begin.