A few answers, from today’s TUC-organised march in London, where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the coalition government’s austerity measures. These words come from people who marched from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park as part of the main march, and spoke to me in the park shortly after Ed Miliband’s speech.
Ambulance worker from Manchester, who travelled with a group from his union:
Some of what the government is doing will directly affect us – we’re going to stop being a foundation trust but we don’t know enough about what will happen yet. But I’m here because I’m against the whole thing – pensions, pay, everything.
Tim Lewis, who travelled from Cambridge alone:
I’m here for a couple of reasons. I think the Chancellor is absolutely full of shit, for a start, and what the government is doing is insane. I’m also here partly out of guilt because I accidentally voted for a Lib Dem candidate thinking it would help keep the Tories out of power and we all know how well that turned out.
Adam Green, a history student with a placard reading “Unite against apathy”:
It’s not just about the tuition fees – I mean I oppose the tuition fees but there’s lots more going on. Like, what’s happening to the NHS, I don’t think that’s a good thing, and I don’t want to just sit there and say I’m only going to fight for the things that affect me and my friends. You’ve got to stand up for everyone. And the government can afford to cut business tax but it can’t afford to help out people who are homeless and that just doesn’t make sense to me.
An NHS worker in her 50s who came with her branch of UNISON:
I’ve been in the NHS all my working life and I’ve never seen anything so wrong-headed as what they’re planning to do. GPs are rubbish as it is and asking them to decide how to spend money as well as look after sick people is just daft. My children and my grandchildren think I’m crazy for coming.
Sylvia Dunhurst, who has severe mobility issues:
When I had my accident I was off work for nearly a year, and when I tried to look for jobs afterwards there weren’t any that I could do that could cope with my wheelchair. So I do what I can to keep myself active but it’s incredibly hard to scrape by at the moment. The coalition seems to want to take away the things that make it possible for me to live my life with any sort of autonomy and dignity.
A teacher at an inner-city primary school in the Midlands:
Some of the children I work with are very deprived. A lot of them don’t speak English as a first language, some of them are children of asylum seekers and refugees, and their parents are desperately poor. The cuts are taking away funding for teaching assistants and they’re pushing more good teachers away from doing these hard jobs because the workload is going up and the pay and pensions are going down.
Geoffrey, a 72-year-old pensioner:
Because if we don’t march against this then they will say we agree with it. I don’t agree with it. They are taking away things that people need. My friends who are in homes need help to get around and that’s being taken away. They can’t be here because they can’t get around, but I can be here, so I am.
Sally, 8, who came with her mum, dad and 11-year-old sister:
Um, because I like going to the library to get books and I like my teachers.
More thoughts on reporting the march tomorrow, when I’m done celebrating being another year older.