Tens of thousands march in Manchester: “just the beginning” of Tory Party Conference protests

Article published: Sunday, October 4th 2015

Today’s TUC and People’s Assembly Against Austerity demonstration saw an estimated 80,000 people march through the city centre to oppose the Tory Party Conference


Protesters gather for rally in Castlefields Arena

A diverse mix of campaign groups, as well as unaffiliated protesters, gathered in Manchester today to send a message of opposition to the Tory Party.

Protesting against Conservative policy on a wide range of issues, from spending cuts to immigration to the environment, groups came together under the common banner of opposing austerity. Demonstrators carried signs reading ‘Reverse the cuts: they are cheating us all’, ‘refugees welcome here’ and ‘NHS not Trident’ amongst others.

Protesters gathered on Oxford Road at 12:00pm before beginning the march, which circled the Tory Conference and ended at Castlefields Arena for the closing rally. The event had been advertised over social media under the name ‘Take Back Manchester’, as an anti-austerity demonstration and protest against the Tory Party Conference, which began today at Manchester Central.

Penny Hicks, the convenor of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, said:

“We need show the Tory party and Cameron that in coming to an industrial heartland like Manchester that has been so devastated by austerity they will find that they are not welcome. We need to visibly show the anger of the city.”

People had travelled from all over the country to protest. Alan, a campaigner for the Socialist Worker’s Party, had travelled from Glasgow for the demonstration. He said that the migrant crisis and austerity were the two main issues that needed to be addressed. He explained “we are showing the numbers of people who are here to say that we are not accepting any more cuts, and that refugees are welcome here.”

Though huge numbers of protesters had travelled from other cities in the UK, many attendees were local people wishing to express their anger at the presence of the Conservatives in Manchester. David, a local businessman, referred to George Osborne’s plans for devolution and an elected mayor in Greater Manchester, stating that “the people of Greater Manchester haven’t been asked. We have had no say, no vote.”

“Personally, I don’t trust that George Osborne has the interests of my family and my community as a priority. The cuts are harming democracy.”

A large police presence was established across the city centre to ensure security and peaceful protesting. A local police officer, who did not wish to be named, described the protest as “very good natured” saying that it had been “a pleasure to work”. Many families with young children joined the march. Helen and Jane from Old Trafford had attended the protest with their family, describing the event as “a very well organised, family-friendly protest.”

When asked where they had seen the effects of Tory cuts in their community, Jane responded “a better question would be to ask where haven’t you seen the effects of the cuts.” Helen added that “everything you do, everywhere you go, in youth services, libraries, you see the effects of the cuts.”

A wide range of campaign groups aimed to bring different issues to attention, focussing on various aspects of Tory policy. Yet Kris Bloom, an activist for the Fossil Free Greater Manchester group, claimed that “it’s all the same thing. Everyone here has slightly different ideas and focuses but we are all here to protest against the corrupt and the greedy.”

Sam Fairbairn, National Secretary of the People’s Assembly, addressed the crowds in Castlefields Arena explaining that protests will be taking place throughout the Tory Party Conference.

“Today is just the beginning. We will be here every day that the Tories are here to give them the opposition they deserve.”

Penny Hicks said that she hoped the protest would encourage people to take further action beyond the conference protests. She said “today was about appealing to Mancunians to come out and make their voices heard, and tell the Tories they’re not welcome here. Now we urge you to go back home and get changing things.”


Ellie Doward

Keep an eye on the Mule website, Facebook page and Twitter account (#TakeBackMCR) for updates throughout the week.


The full schedule of events can be accessed via the People’s Assembly website

More: Local journalism, Manchester, News, QuickKick


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