On Saturday 16 April 2016, 150,000 people descended on London to send a loud and clear message: we have had enough. The austerity measures forced upon us are a political choice and not an economic necessity! The timing could not have been better since the financial arrangements of some government figures had recently been leaked in the Panama
We grabbed our home made banners (yes those days watching Blue Peter and Why don’t
You were not wasted) and we raised our voices with the masses. We wanted to make sure that the destruction of the probation service was represented today as yet another example in the list of disasters that this government has created through its incompetence. Those of us in the job know how it feels to watch our service being taken to pieces and sold off to buyers who sweep in and set about axing jobs and cutting back services to nothing. And guess what: it is not working, it is unsafe and it has cost the taxpayers a lot more money. Well done Mr Cameron another winner. We are furious that this government systematically decimates our public services with their flawed ideology and this “greed is good” mantra. No, No, No.
The atmosphere was amazing and we found a great pace and fell into step behind a rickshaw that was blasting out the music. We sang along to Should He Stay or Should He Go and then we had a guest join us – The Artist Taxi Driver. His real name is Mark McGowan and he is a London taxi driver, occasional university speaker and arts tutor. He has a lot to say worth listening to. Check him out on YouTube Austerity is a scam live, and you willsee us as his backing singers.
When we finally came into Trafalgar Square the noise was deafening. Whitehall was blocked off so we could not go any further but no matter. We could predict media coverage was going to be sparse but the government knew we were here, social media knew and we knew and we made some noise.
The speeches were all united and rang of solidarity. John McDonnell, spoke on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn and pledged a labour government would: “End austerity and halt the
privatisation of our NHS and make it public once again.”
Leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett joined him saying: “We want a real living wage
not George Osborne’s fake living wage. We want zero university tuition fees, no forced academies,
and we want real council houses, real genuinely affordable housing and a secure tenancy for life. To deliver it we need change, we need to get rid of the Tories.”
Nurse Danielle Tiplady, moved us with her passion and drive but her own words say it best: “I came into nursing because I want to care for every single one of you, but now someone like me from a different background will be blocked from going into the best profession in the world. George Osborne, Jeremy Hunt, the Tories, you have destroyed student nurses’ dreams. Shame on you!”
It was a wonderful day, an awesome experience and so great to share it with so many likeminded people. And to those of you who have never felt that demonstrating
was “your thing” or something you have never considered I say this: get up from your seat and get out with us and do it. I am telling you that you will not regret it. You will feel alive and know you are making a difference. It is your chance to let your views be heard, to vote with your feet and let your voice thunder. After all the great Jane Austen once said: “It isn’t what we think or say that defines us, but what we do”.
Marion Kockelbergh and Natalie Dimbleb y