MORE than 150,000 people marched from Gower Street near Euston to Trafalgar Square last Saturday, in a giant march organised by the People’s Assembly as a March for Health, Homes, Jobs and Education but, in the wake of the Panama Papers tax dodging scandal, added one further demand – that David Cameron must go.
Before the march the organisers issued a statement: “The Tories are facing their biggest crisis yet. Revelations of David Cameron’s stake in his father’s off shore tax haven prove that this is a government for the privileged few, not for the majority.
“This shows beyond all doubt that Cameron is divorced from the life of any working person. The Government’s failure to deal with the steel crisis could leave thousands without a job. They've attacked junior doctors and student nurses while privatising the NHS.
“They plan to force all schools to become academies and teachers are now balloting to strike over pay and conditions. They've done nothing to address the growing housing crisis. Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation shows a government falling apart.
“This is a situation, which is unrecoverable for the Tories if we mobilise, demonstrate and unite everyone together against austerity.”
Steel workers, whose jobs are threatened by the decision of the global giant Tata to sell off all its steel production plants in Britain, and junior doctors marched ahead of the main banner, which was supported by Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, amongst others.
Before setting off, the crowd was addressed by Dianne Abbott MP and junior doctors involved in organising strikes against the new contract that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is seeking to impose. Abbott said: "I'm so glad to be here to pass on Jeremy Corbyn's absolute support for this demonstration. There couldn't be a more important movement and demonstration than this one today.”
All the main trade unions were there, along with dozens of community groups, left and progressive political groups and campaigns: Stop the War, Unite Against Fascism, Greater London Pensioners, Sisters Uncut and many, many more. The Fire Brigades Union’s fire engine was there, travelling very slowly in the crowd.
There were scores of union banners, giant balloons from different unions, several bands and thousands of placards calling for “Dodgy Dave” to be ditched, telling us: “The Tories put the N in cuts” and mental health workers carrying a banner proclaiming: “Equality is the best Therapy”.
The marchers packed Trafalgar Square completely when they arrived to hear Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell speak. He said: “As a Labour government, when we get into power we will end austerity.
“We will halt the privatisation of our NHS and make it public once again.
“And for all those people desperately waiting for a home – I can give this promise, we will build the hundreds of thousands of council homes that will end homelessness.”
The Hayes and Harlington MP also said that his party would scrap the work capability assessments affecting the disabled. He added: “The Panama revelations demonstrate that they have been robbing us for generations now. We will make the rich and corporations pay their way in society.”
Other speakers included Len McCluskey and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.
In a video message played to the demonstrators, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The austerity we are in is a political choice, not an economic necessity.”