22.10.12

Marching with the NUJ on the TUC anti-austerity march

Tories out!

On Saturday 20 October, Brighton Trades Council chartered a train up to London for the TUC's 'A future that works' demo and the NUJ Brighton Branch reserved a part of a carriage. We were meeting up at 9am, which is early for me, but I made the rendezvous, with my folding bike, and we marched through the gates of Brighton station onto the platform where a former Gatwick Express was awaiting. Bum, I thought, no bike provision! So we piled in a first-class carriage and I folded the bike up. There was a jolly atmosphere on the train, with people handing out leaflets, whistles and newspapers. When we arrived at Victoria, it was a longish walk to the Embankment where the march was to start. We'd been advised to join from the back (the NUJ was with the 'entertainment unions' nearly at the end) and it was a shame the train hadn't dropped us off at Blackfriars.

Nick, Tamsin and Melita on Parliament Square

Ah well, the roads were deserted and I was able to cycle. Victoria Street, Parliament Square and Whitehall were all devoid of traffic in readiness for the march. Soon all the other Brightonians had disappeared (down the Strand?), and I was left with Nick - we made the mistake of heading down to the Embankment! There was the head of the march taking up both lanes of the road and the pavements! Nick headed up onto the bridge to take some snaps and I tried to push my way to the back of the march to join our group. To no avail. I had to settle for hiding behind a tree and watching the march go by - but I was able to see it all and take some photos. The noise was unbearable - horrid plastic vuvuzelas and whistles mainly, with the odd brass band, samba drummers and jazz combos thrown in.

ASLEF banner

I'd filled my flask with miso soup, so took the opportunity to take lunch as the march unfolded: the red of Unite, the purple of Unison, the great banners of the railway unions, and spotted some great placards and slogans, 'pleb' being the word of the day. I was also intrigued to see an artwork by Bob and Roberta Smith being carried along. There's some more info about it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/oct/19/bob-roberta-smith-art-michael-gove. There is also a competition for the best banner or slogan here: http://makethemarch.org.uk.

Bob and Roberta Smith banner

Over an hour after the start time of 12 noon, I saw some green NUJ flags and joined in, on up to Parliament Square, right into Whitehall, past Downing Street and Horseguard's Parade, past Trafalgar Square, left up to Piccadilly Circus and along Piccadilly to Hyde Park.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet.

The speeches had been going for a while, I'd missed Ed Miliband being booed, the ground was soggy, so after a couple of text messages I met up with Nick and headed to the Serpentine Cafe to join some Clarionettes who'd been marching behind a brass band. After a strange cup of tea with extra large teabag (I decanted half of it into my flask for later), I got on my bike and cycled to Victoria through London traffic with my rescued Unison flag, to catch the 17.08 back to Brighton. This time I found a disabled space for my bike and didn't see any of my chums until we got to Brighton station, where it was raining on the way home. More photos on Flickr.

 Clarionettes at tea
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