The massive demonstration yesterday expressed the anger and outrage people from all ages and all walks of life feel about the millionaire-based ConDem government's attacks on the poor, on public services and on the welfare state. I marched with pensioners, students, housewives, trades unionists, Women's Institute members, and every shade of political opinion, and it was clear that some of the police, too, were on our side.
There was also a feeling of confidence that the power of people's protest can alter the disastrous course of the government's economic policy. It's a great feeling when you take over the centre of the capital: no cars, and masses of people united in goodwill and a desire to protest and survive.
It was outrageous, therefore, to hear Brendan Barber and Ed Milliband diluting the purpose and message of the demonstration, speaking from the rally platform in Hyde Park. Both were saying, not that the cuts are wrong, malicious and will ill-judged, but that they are too sudden and too hard! This has not been the message of the Anti-cuts groups so far, nor of the TUC in the run-up to the demonstration. It's an important difference, which completely undermines the message of the campaign against cuts: which is that the cuts are unnecessary, the national deficit does not need to be dealt with in this way, and that the government's measures will make matters worse.
Personally, I don't expect anything better of Milliband and Barber, but they must not be allowed to derail the focus and purpose of the fight against cuts in this way. Trades unions and anti-cuts organisations, as well as Labour Party members, need to get the campaign back on track by clarifying this principle and sticking to their metaphorical guns.
CUTS ARE NOT THE CURE!