One hundred and fifty thousand people marched through the political and commercial centres of London on Saturday 20th October, to demand an alternative future free from the shackles of austerity measures being imposed by the “Con-Dem” government.The demonstration called by the Trade Union Congress was endorsed by working class parties and organisations, including the Association of Indian Communists (AIC) and the Indian workers’ Association GB.

The protesters converged in London from all corners of England and Wales, providing a graphic manifestation of the diverse communities in ideology, ethnicity, gender and physical ability. This was a fitting follow up to the half a million strong demonstration of last year’s spring which brought the City of London to a standstill. The red banner of IWA GB merged into the sea of banners that meandered along the banks of old river Thames, past the Houses of Parliament and seats of political power, via the glitzy Piccadilly and to the open rally in Hyde Park.The protesters gave vent to their anger and deep-felt disenchantment with the disconnected government of Britain. They called into question the ability of the wealthy toff’s from the Prime Minister down, to understand the suffering of the ordinary people across the country. (Not too dissimilar to the experience of the aam aadmi in India with two India’s the shining and the suffering)

The British mass media reported this protest as it passed peacefully without the images of violence and destruction normally created by a handful of anarchists undermining the struggles of the working class. The British government appear blind and deaf to extra parliamentary activities and the feelings of their own citizens. The supporters of the “Con-Dem” and Labour in favour of austerity measures being inflicted upon the working class do so at their own peril. The demand for a general strike is continuing to gain momentum.

The fact that the people are demanding an alternative to the austerity measures with investment in public services in contrast to the ideology of wasting the country’s resources on weapons of mass destruction and bailing out of financial institutions. This came as a surprise to Ed Miliband the leader of the Labour Party, who looked like a rabbit caught in headlights as his suggestion that he could not “promise easy times” was met by boos. This was a clear admission that even under Labour there would be austerity measures “whoever was in government now there would be some cuts.” Obviously Mr Miliband has not heard of the real alternative, the future that is socialism, and this, despite his claims of being close to the late historian Eric Hobsbalm.

The alternative proposed by Labour centres around the timing and schedule of cuts, not the severity or depth. As the Labour leader went on to say “This government has cut too far too fast. Self defeating austerity is not the answer. We would make different but fairer choices.”

In keeping an eye on the polls, Ed Miliband typically provided vivid examples of the social democrat’s opportunist trait of speaking in the language of the working class when out of power, promising young people a stake in the future, taxing bankers’ bonuses, building 100,000 homes to get construction working and end the privatisation of the National Health Service.The real cheers were reserved for the Trade Union leaders calling for more direct action including a general strike.Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union called for mobilising resistance for defending ourselves. He rallied the workers with this call, “We need to defend ourselves. We now need to fight back as never before. We will need industrial action”. He outlined the need for greater coordination, involving young and old, students, workers and the unemployed.

“The AIC and IWA GB will continue to be part of the ongoing debate in the workplace and within communities to broaden the struggle. We will continue to encourage our members to be actively involved in their Trade Unions and strengthen the Indian Workers’ Association GB” said Dyal Bagri National President of Indian Workers’ Association GB. He had travelled from Leicester with a bus load of IWA members, along with similar contingents from all major cities. The contingent from Derby brought large number of Indian women marching with the red banner inspiring the working class.

This march has reignited the belief in change and the strength through unity.

Harsev Bains