On Saturday 20 June a quarter of a million people gathered at the banking centre of London and marched to Parliament square.
Coaches came from all over the country all to unite against the government, every regional accent could be heard in the crowd and 6 coaches came from Cardiff alone. I was on one of two Union Subsidised coaches from Exeter.
The march was a rave for a reason, people danced in the streets of London to bellowing sound systems and drumming bands, and like a good free festival there was outrageous self-expression along with a radical sense of community.
I walked a group against privatising the NHS wearing a tee shirt made by my daughter, it was covered on red paint to look like blood and read “Greed Kills, Save Our NHS”.
Everyone there was angry at the system for their own reasons, there was every group you could imagine from packs of young people waving the communist flag to Bitcoin fans to animal rights activists. This anarchic atmosphere was not completely chaotic, the march was incredibly organised with every theme sectioned off so every cause had a clearly defined voice.
Banners ranged from violent to the ridiculous and hilarious, there were puns, rants against the rich, but the huge majority of banners were about the cuts. Class War showed their usual sick humour about violence against the rich, they had a fabulously offensive slogan “We have found new homes for the Rich” as a caption for a picture of a graveyard but most said “No Cuts” this was the main theme of the day.
One of the strangest sights was a man wearing a dress with penises painted on it, this was a chance for release, outrage and carnival. There were people playing in drumming bands and I took the chance to literally dance in the streets of London. Despite the colour and outrageous was impossible to forget this was also a day out with a serious purpose, to express out outrage at the way Britain is being run.
Chants were varied form anti Scientology while walking past their head office taunts to the surreal “All kittens are equal”.
An exciting, happy atmosphere of solidarity, and a sense this demonstration could lead to something huge, there is the passion organisation and energy to do this. Like a great old school, free festival I went home feeling energised and changed for the whole experience, a quarter of a million other people had seen through this government’s lies, were angry and hungry for change.
The question is all of these groups can come together for a day but can such diverse groups of people make a real difference, I talked to a friend who was involved in the “Occupy Exeter” camp and he pointed out every reason Occupy was angry started from similar causes, every group needs to remember this and make sure the carnival gets serious and we all take action.
Let 2015 this be a summer of love with a true purpose, let the carnival continue but the work begin.