Monday 6 December 2010

The Great Norfolk Anti-Cuts Demonstration

For the first post of this 3-day slot, I want to take you on a journey in words and pictures of the The Great Norfolk Anti-Cuts Demonstration organised by the Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts, which took place on Saturday. I had never been on a march with trades unions before. But the government cuts affect me as they do millions of other people. And this is a time for joining in.

The snow and ice had mostly turned to sludge by the time we got to Chapelfield just before noon and the temperature was a few degrees above freezing. Elena came up and greeted me from behind. "When I got here there were more police than marchers," she said. "It was a bit alarming."

Then just before noon the crowd swelled in size and and the line we were forming suddenly got much longer.

Then there were over a thousand people, holding banners from Unison, The National Union of Teachers, The Labour Party, The Trades Union, NorwichPride... The mood was relaxed. I wasn't even put off by the icy water seeping into a split in my left sole. Why did I wear these shoes!?! Well, because it was -4 Celsius last night when I went to bed and I wasn't expecting a thaw!

We walked slowly from Chapelfield down to St. Stephen’s Street, past the market up to the Forum, chanting

“When they say cutback, we say fight back.”
“Cut cut cutback”
“Fight fight fight back.”

And "No ifs, no buts, NO EDUCATION CUTS."

The carousel in front of the Forum went round and round.

Everyone cheered as we passed the group of firemen outside the fire station. They've already got the T-Shirt!

We arrived back in Chapelfield to listen to speakers from the Green Party, Stop The War Coalition, United Kingdom Disabled Peoples' Council, the National Union of Teachers, to Cath Elliot, Guardian blogger and unapologetic feminist and to a 'Postie' from Royal Mail. Everyone was greeted with cheers. One speaker reminded us of the simultaneous March on Parliament for a Zero Carbon Britain and a Million Climate Jobs organised by the Campaign against Climate Change.

When the speakers had finished and the water in my shoe was very cold, we headed over to the Greenhouse in Bethel Street for a cup of tea. There we found a cafe full of fellow marchers. Some were also fellow transitioners. Kerry was behind the counter doing a grand job of getting drinks and cake out to everyone; Tom came by and told us how well the recent Zero Carbon World Concert went. I laughed with Teresa about the rather alarming hand dryer in the toilets, which she told me had peerless low carbon credentials. And we all thawed out.

Then we took off for our train and bus home. As we walked to the station I felt heartened that people from all different parts of society are joining up and coming out in the face of the heartless and cynical destruction of the welfare state. Me too. I'm glad to be part of the resistance.

You can also read Charlotte's excellent post on the demonstration in the OneWorldColumn.

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