We left Weymouth at 08.00 and arrived at Victoria Embankment at about 11.30. Tens of thousands of people mixing, chatting and ready to give up a Saturday, following a week of work, to get their point across. Austerity is not working. Pay is too low. Jobs are too insecure and the wealthiest don’t appear to care. Actually it is not only the wealthiest. If social media is anything to go by there are many who verbally attack their neighbours and work colleagues for doing something other than publicise their ignorance whilst reaping the rewards of others efforts. The irony of calling activists sheep is lost on them in this sad divisive society that is manufactured and reproduced around us. It appears that for some labelling and deriding the victims is a norm and the explanation probably stretched back into the complexities of their childhoods. 

We walked together up to Trafalgar Square, on past Eros and the Ritz and into Hyde Park. We whistled, rattled, blew horns, held placards, chatted, laughed, shook hands, embraced and all those other things that people do when gathered together communally to challenge adversity. Many were not there for themselves but for others. Empathy and compassion were their fuel. An episode of ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ was being filmed around us. The extortionate charge of 50p to use public toilets was being evaded through ingenuity. Boris Johnson – hang your ‘Aryan’ blonde head in shame.

Austerity march 3

Hyde Park filled to music and speeches. My highlights included Harry Smith who brought many a tear to the Labour Party conference and many a tear today. He re-told the story of a Britain without a welfare state and with austerity killing people in their tens of thousands. Of sitting on his dad’s shoulders during the 1926 General Strike. Of continuing to fight those who only wish to hurt us. By far and away the most rousing of the trade union leaders  was Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union. Every other union leader appeared anemic and tepid in his shadow. He hit the button for me and many others as his narrative received the most rousing response. The time for listening to the neo liberal apologists and their hacks is over. We either stand together or go down together. Fighting each other is not an option and will benefit only those whose wealth is growing quicker than at any time since Victorian times. Another speaker,  a counsellor for Equity, and who represented the 86% of those in the entertainment industry who earnt less that £20000 a year was also a highlight. She was confident and again played the right keys. 

Austerity march

At 16.00 we made our way back to Waterloo along the now open route we came. Told to join the last 5 carriages we found them to be absent. Thus the busiest train of the day headed back to Weymouth with all aisles crowded and toilet visiting a non starter. At Clapham we were joined by dozens of victorious Chelsea fans on their way back from Crystal Palace. Any concerns were soon dissipated. They were a delight. Yes there was banter with Arsenal fans and later with jubilant Southampton supporters but they could not have been nicer especially to my 5 year old daughter. Armchair prejudices up and down the land can be overcome by getting out more 🙂Austerity March 2

Now for the crux of yesterday. ‘Austerity’. We do not need it. Not any of it. That’s right I don’t buy the lie that the economy has to rupture to improve. Capitalism and its advocates though usually find a way. It usually requires pain and destruction but it refuses to spread the load. Those with money and power usually get away with it. It is those without who eventually succumb. ‘We are all in it together’ is a lie. Not an accidental lie. A focused septic lie. David Cameron has a first in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University. If he still genuinely believes his slogan then can I suggest that Oxford closes its doors and seeks all references to be removed from cyber space and beyond. As for Gideon Osborne – the Chancellor of the Exchequer with his history degree, I can only assume he has the persuasive skills of an arms dealer in a monastery to have got that job. 

Austerity march 4

This is why austerity is a false argument. Mark Blyth: Is Austerity a Dangerous Idea? Capitalism is a very complex beast and is also extremely unpredictable. There is no taming it. Sometimes it gives the impression it is playful and passive. Other times it is violent and blood thirsty. In the right hands it still leaves its victims in the majority. However, in the wrong hands it destroys nearly everything in its wake. The environment; health care; education; the vulnerable and not so vulnerable. It kills and maims. The arms industry is a classic example. It demands war and conflict. Without it why do we require arms. Pharmaceuticals is another. It demands sickness and preferably long term. Ebola is not profitable which is why it has been so difficult to entice these companies to provide the treatment and funding required. Capitalism is rarely in the right hands as its very nature is one of exploitation. How can somebody be right to exploit unless of course it is devised so that no one ever struggles and gets in to debt? Talking of which three billion people on planet Earth earn less than $2 a day. They are the very people large corporations seek out and provide little or no work protection for. Strong trade unions eh? Who needs them?

So austerity – that is the cutting back of public expenditure that was put in place to protect people from these worst excesses – is to be applied at a time when the economy is growing only because of the number of part time, low paid, insecure jobs that are being allowed to flourish to enable the richest to employ more people. Once I get my breath back (that’s better) I can then state with certainty that any caring person in charge of this monster (capitalism) would then recognise that if we are ever to bring down the debt it would be when all individuals in societies are flourishing together so that any downside would be felt a lot less than when these same societies are fracturing. Thus individual and state debt could be reigned in in a managed fashion that would avoid the boom and bust that politicians and their paymasters regularly put us through. 

The fault of this economic disaster (and no matter what we are fed about growth it is a disaster for many millions in the UK if only they could stop playing in to the hands of those who are setting people against each other) is down to politicians and the banking industry. Without getting complex the last sixty years has seen many countries become more and more reliant on money that does not physically exist. From fighting wars with manufactured enemies to buying a house or a new car we rely upon debt which is money that does not nor ever has been a physical entity. It is numbers on a computer. That is it. Now if we give people carte blanche to spend that non existent money and give it a label of ‘billions’; trillions; ‘derivatives’; stocks; shares; liquidity ratios and many, many, many more (laboriously so) we also give them the opportunity to waste it out of greed or incompetence. Then communities, countries and the planet can find itself with debts that not only was not their fault but one that they were actively encouraged to either create or join in. We called capitalism complex and we have not even started yet. 

Even if the most ignorant and unsympathetic person on the planet still supported austerity against those who are literally not to blame it does not then explain how the response by the banks and the politicians are at polar opposites to each other. Whilst the approach towards the banks was to apply a fiscal policy i.e. ‘Quantitative Easing’ (stimulation of supply/demand) the politicians adopt a monetarist approach, towards the public, (reducing money supply thus restricting supply/demand). In other words whilst one is affecting supply the other is affecting demand. However, the banks were given all this tax payers money but have kept almost all of it to themselves. The bail out saved the banks but has not been used to support the public. Therefore the only people who can genuinely get better off are those with pre-existing power and/or wealth. The banks don’t lend; businesses have to persuade their workforce to accept a freeze in pay whilst those at the top are rewarded for growing the business at the expense of the vast majority of its workforce. Benefits are cut and public services are sold off to the very people who only see success in maximising their profits at the expense of the employees and the consumers. Choice is restricted in relation to quality unless you have the high income or wealth to afford it. And all the while the debt keeps rising. Cyclical and very very damaging to most people.Austerity march 5

Scared yet, Well this is not even close to what is to come. If we don’t wise up then our children and their children… will suffer far beyond what is happening now and they will look back and fond memories will turn to yelps and anger. Ignorance is well and truly killing our generation but it will massacre those still to come. Next time you are tempted to sit back and j’accuse others of being ‘lefty’ or of being sheep then just remember no matter who we are solidarity and awareness are the only cure to the austerity and the only response to the LIES. Our future depends upon working together and exploring the alternatives of which with open eyes there are many. The time of blind faith in politicians has to end to enable us to avoid the destinations that no new born would ever choose if they were able. Austerity must end and an alternative to capitalism is needed more now than ever before.

Jason Cridland

Further reading: Why did Britain’s political class buy into the Tories’ economic fairytale?

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