It’s 5am. In Parc y Llyn, post-apocalyptic ghost-town of Aberystwyth’s questionable retail expectations, a coach-load of demonstrators clutches banners and sandwich boxes. A motley crew of students and trade unionists right enough, but united in our determination to speak back to an unfeeling government.
It’s 20 October, and we’re heading for ‘A future that works’, the TUC March in London. It’s a 12-hour round-trip but we have to express our feelings of frustration in the face of the determined and damaging cuts already imposed on the country, as well as the 80% of cuts yet to come.
Côr Gobaith, Aberystwyth’s campaigning choir for peace, justice and sustainability, has mustered a small but enthusiastic group bent on meeting up with other street choirs, singing to raise the spirits of the marchers. It’s the second time in a week Côr Gobaith has taken to the streets. If Osborne carries on, we’ll be a permanent presence!
According to the police, there were about 100,000 marchers in London, so there were probably double that number. The march took about four hours to file past the spot where the street choirs gathered. So, a lot of people: trade unionists, students, CND, UK Uncut etc. And yet the lack of media coverage was palpable, an insult to all the marchers and to democracy. An NUT rep we spoke to was less than impressed with Ed Miliband’s speech, feeling that he ‘offered nothing new, just more of the same’. It’s not surprising that calls for a general strike are getting stronger as workers in the public sector become increasingly demoralised.
Still, we had a good day, great feelings of solidarity with a huge cross-section of people from police officers and fire fighters to care workers and students, from pensioners and Quakers to nurses and teachers.
The combined choirs’ singing was great, starting at Piccadilly Circus to greet the marchers then on to Hyde Park to sing for about three hours as people streamed in.
Back in Aberystwyth, when asked why we bother, we can only point to the feelings of solidarity and the fact that we, the 99%, are ‘all in this together’. Despite the lack of media coverage, such actions do make a difference by impinging on the consciousness of the government and keeping up the pressure for change (in spite of the institutional barriers to prevent such marches: coaches having to park miles away from the demonstration, Tube lines and stations closed that day for ‘engineering works’…).
So, this is a message to you, ‘the shower in power’: we won’t be silenced, we won’t stop singing. A future that works is not just a future with jobs and a strong public sector, it must also be a future where government and the media are in touch with the people and show some respect.