The UK has a history of protest and marching that can unite and divide but is never static. Sometimes it can feel as if no-one cares any more and then a protest like today happens that unites hundreds of thousands of people. Todays march in London, organised by the TUC and called ‘March for the Alternative’ was to challenge the current UK coalition Government on their plans to make swingeing cuts in public services. The swell of public feeling in the Capital City today seems to indicate the way in which the UK spirit of supporting the underdog might just be alive and well.
We all know when public services get cut it is the poor, the young, the unemployed and the most vulnerable who get hit the most.Today the UK stood up and was counted and I’m proud of us.I’ve been supporting from my sofa, wearing my badge, wristband and with my mini placards. I’ve tweeted and facebooked and texted Mrs T and a BF who were there in person and checking in all along the way. Its been like having a ringside seat and giving a commentary at the same time.
Today in the local paper I saw that we had lost the fight to save two local swimming pools in the poorest areas of our city. One caters especially for disabled swimmers with a warmer pool, hoist and special sessions. Teachers for the deaf and visually impaired are being cut in local Education services. Those children will no longer be able to access the whole curriculum. Childrens Centres will have their staff and services cut so parents of children under 5 will have nowhere to meet, get support and a cup of tea and parenting help. The list is endless.
Ive been sitting here today tracing a line in my head of the ways in which the personal and political make sense to me. From the 70’s feminism latching onto my heart and mind, connecting back to the suffragette sisters, the women who have always been there alongside the men – wives and mothers of the north east, the miners, the pottery workers. Skip to the nuclear weapon protests of the 50;s, 60’s and 80’s Aldermaston and Greenham Common, Faslane, the silent every day protests that still go on. The anti-war movement, Vietnam, the Falklands, Iraq, always more. You could weep with th pain of it, rage at the waste of it, despair at the lessons that repeat and repeat. But the spark, the hope, the stubborn quiet little voice just doesn’t quite go away. Some how there is always that belief that we can make a difference, make things better and that together we are stronger.
Sometimes saying what is in our hearts means standing up to be counted.
US anthropologist & popularizer of anthropology (1901 – 1978)