Monday, 22 June 2015

Sounds Heard and Signs Seen at the March Against Austerity, London 20 June 2015

Ealing TUC

Amongst the banners at the other day’s march through central London – placards declaiming “Austerity Doesn’t Work”, "Buzz Off Cameron”, “1 Million Using Foodbanks”, “Climate Not Trident”, “Fuck The Tories”, and such like – a few enterprising protestors simply carried signs from Foxtons estate agents, presumably uprooted from someone’s front garden.

Haringey Defend Council Housing

As I marched, I made a note of the chants that passed up and down the procession: “No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts”; “They say, cut back / We say, fight back”; “When I say, green / you say, jobs / green / jobs / green / jobs”; "The people united will never be defeated”; “Whose streets? / Our streets”…

Greater Manchester & District CND

One man, as if in the hope of inventing a new form of chorus in blank verse, simply shouted hoarsely, “Six hundred and fifty pounds a month to live in Peckham excluding bills? You’re having a laugh, mate.”

"We Have Found New Homes for the Rich" Class War 

I also heard a brief snatch of Procul Harem’s ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’. I heard a choir in matching red t-shirts singing ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ with lyrics altered to reflect the aims of the protest. And, to the tune of the old see shanty ‘Drunken Sailor’, I heard a small group singing “What shall we do with a Tory government…?”

Piccadilly & District West RMT

Towards the end of the march, somewhere along the Strand, I overheard the following snatch of conversation: “… lots of police protecting McDonalds. They were discussing their favourite songs in Les Miz.”

"Time for Revolution" Anon.
Quite a few of the placards people carried bore hashtags. Like “Let’s get rid of the royals too #republican”. But this was not the only thing that made this demo feel, at times, like an internet phenomenon that had somehow drifted through the screen and into the real world…

"No!" Anon.