Marching for the Alternative

I blogged about our plans to March on 26th, the threat to my job (here).
In true parent ‘fashion’ I spend Friday afternoon running round making sure every essential item was packed and all probabilities covered. Friday early evening I made endless sandwiches, packed raisins, biscuits, Haribos, crisps, waterproofs, babywipes (aka the kitchen sink)……. Finally, put Noo to bed, made a quick stir fry for me and Mr Noo opened a bottle of wine….just putting the DVD on. I pop up stairs, to a scene of devastation; one still sleeping boy and vomit everywhere. “Houston we have a problem”.

You know that moment when all your plans flash before your eyes as your shoving the first load of washing on and staring at the second and wondering at what #stupid o’clock will this get done. Was I back to “I wanted to change the world but I couldn’t find a babysitter?”

We’d planned to drive to London, a 300 mile round trip, two mums and I and our two kids, to attend the TUC organised demonstration on 26th March. We’d evening had a planning evening: Wine/Plan/Wine/Food/Wine, every detail covered (essential and recommended – planning evenings).

Noo, ‘Bless that child’. Didn’t throw up again. In true “comrade” style he was up at 5.30 ready for the day and our trip to London. At 8 am, we where on the road. “The animals went in two by two” spurring us on from the stereo. Endless snacks, books, magazines all to pave the journey South.

We negotiated the tube, juggling children, bags, buggy, scooter, picnic. Checked twitter decided not to join the March at Embankment, headed straight for Piccadilly.  On the tube we met two Mental Health Social workers also heading for the March, their experience of money saving restructure, reapplication for their own jobs after year and years of service was depressing.

Rising from the Tube beside the iconic Eros, to be greeted by a sea of protesters young and old. Those not taking part applauding from the pavements, it was a very emotional moment. That “Yes! We made it” feeling! My son walked most of the length of Piccadilly. I am a very proud Mummy.

Hyde Park was packed, the atmosphere was one of a festival. I saw ambulance staff, teachers Unions, librarians, care workers, banners from Scotland, Devon and Cornwall. In the park we found the Woodcraft Folk Tent who had organised, as promised, activities for children. Listened to speeches from various people; Actors Union, Postal Union, Arts Council,  representative of Black and Minority Workers.  Denise Marshall who handed back her OBE in a protest to cuts to women’s refuges (here).  She spoke of closures to Women’s Refuges and Rape Crisis centres, projects to support women trafficked into the sex trade. I listened to many arguments and proposals for an alternative, ideas and statistics that made sense.

The protesters have been numbered at between a quarter and a half a million. People were still entering Hyde Park several hours after us. It was peaceful, good natured but concerned, concerned about the impact cuts. I was really heartened to see so many people with disabilities in the park many I’m sure are ‘service users’ who will be directly affected. It’s a good feeling to be part of something so huge, part of so many who made such an effort to attend. We were very proud to be part of it.

Being at the ‘front line’ I am already seeing the impact of the spending review on the poor and the marginalised and it really hasn’t yet begun to bite. I have felt really despairing. The March gave me hope, promise. I feel better knowing so many have the same concerns. I hope more people will realise there is an alternative and we are all ‘strands’ and together we make something stronger. Strength of feeling, hope and support are all positives to cling onto in the face of what lies ahead.

It was 10pm by the time we got home. I watched the news to discover our “good news” our “peaceful protest” our “record numbers” our POSITIVE HEADLINES. Had been robbed by the minority. You weren’t on our March.  Shame on you.


  1. The Domestic Anarchist

    Brilliant post Gemma and good on you for Marching yesterday. There are always a few that hijack these protests and try and detract from the good that people like yourself do by engaging in peaceful protest.

    Let’s hope that they do listen to the people and maybe come the next general election more people will do their democratic duty and vote 🙂

  2. fastandluce

    When I was your son’s age, my mother took me on a march to Downing Street to throw eggs at Harold Wilson!! I have no idea why, but I have never forgotten doing so and hopefully your son will remember this day forever. And I share your pain at the stupidity of the minority. The owners of F&M are huge philanthropists and give millions away to good causes annually. Santander is not one of the greedy banks…….they were just intent on destruction.

  3. Evey@PolythenePram

    It was so great that you could be there, I only wish I could have been there too.
    Like you I was saddened that the news was overtaken but a militant few.

  4. Blue Sky

    Congratulations on making the effort and marching 🙂 I’ve been on a few marches in Ireland and it’s great to feel part of something and that you’re just not taking stupid policies lying down without making some kind of protest x

  5. Flora

    Very well said Gemma. I’m so pleased I went on the march with our two daughters. There was such a mix of people at the protest. It was an amazing sight to see a group of mums and their toddlers all marching together because their children’s centre has been closed. One told me that their local library has gone too. Regardless of what your politics are or what you did or didn’t vote – you couldn’t ignore how many people were there to protect their children and grandchildren from the cuts that are already happening. I also saw a huge group of doctors all worried about what was happening to their and our NHS. And a class of teenagers with their teachers whose school was under threat. I’m glad I went – will it make a difference? Who knows. But I’m glad I took our children and tried to have their voices heard by a government who seems to be forgetting about their health and future.

  6. Him Up North

    Well done you and to everyone who took the time to march for what they believe in. Our government is going to end up ripping society apart. That’s too big a price to pay.

    As for the violent demonstrators, they played right into the hands of the voracious 24-hr media machine and your peaceful efforts were drowned out to a slight extent. Shame on them and shame on the media who gorge on this rubbish.

    Blimey, I ranted there a bit…

  7. Lesley Bown

    Hi Gemma, well done for going I had lots of colleagues going and the protest was really near where I work. I couldn’t make it as I was holiday so thanks for representing all of us who are facing spending cuts. We’ve had to cut 30% mgt costs at our NHS Trust. Fingers crossed it will make a different.

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