Last weekend I joined my parents on the TUC anti-cuts demonstration through central London. The only march I’d ever been on before was in San Francisco where hundreds of people marched through the streets as an act against the government’s actions in Iraq.
This march had a similar vibe. Around 500,000 people attended walking from Embankment to Hyde Park and it was a peaceful atmosphere on the whole. The majority of people I saw were families, young children, NHS workers and pensioners all walking together with an array of banners, some with witty slogans, “Get us out of this Eton Mess” and others with the facts “£20 billion in cuts to the NHS”.
The previous week the Guardian had a powerful article in its G2 featuring a range of different people, including a student, NHS worker and pensioner, and listed their reasons for marching. The cuts will impact on everyone’s lives but most of all those in the public sector and its these people who in the long run support us and keep the UK running. Doctors, police, firefighters, teachers – these people support us throughout our lives and to make such harsh cuts too fast will ultimately lead to another crisis.
On the other hand I feel a lot of empathy towards the students. Although I was lucky enough to go to university before the last tuition fees increase, I’ve still got a massive amount of debt to repay. Students now will not pay anything back until they’re earning at least £21,000 but they’re going to have a sum of on average £30,000 to repay.
Nothing is being done either about the lack of jobs. Most graduates I know have had to do a Masters (yet more money) or work experience in order to get a job they actually want. But how can someone afford to spend £9,000 a year and still not be sure of a job at the end of it? If the problem is too many people going to university then I think it would have been better to increase the entry level, rather than the cost.
The march brought together a huge range of people and although it’s likely to have much impact in government, it’s an eye opener that a large proportion of the population are not happy with the new coalition or the brutal public sector cuts. Yes, we’re coming out of a recession and there needs to be cut backs, but with government-owed banks announcing back-breaking bonuses, and an MOD budget for this year already into the trillions and way over target, there seems no justice in where these cuts lie.