Around 2,000 people gathered in Manchester to protest against austerity and the government’s “callous cuts” over the past five years. Extra police officers were assigned to ensure the event ran peacefully.
The protest, organized
on social media, took place in Piccadilly Gardens in the city
centre. The event kicked off with a welcome from Penny Hicks,
convener of the Manchester chapter of The People’s Assembly
Hicks said the protest
was scheduled the day after the recent election results, when
people “woke up” and asked themselves: “How are we
going to protect the vulnerable, the sick, the unemployed, the
students, the pensioners, the people who have already been
suffering for five years?”
“I think what we’ve seen throughout the country since the
election result is a huge upsurge of people saying to the
parties: ‘If you won’t do it, we’ll have to do it,’ and that’s
why we’re here today.”
She was met with a round of applause from supporters holding
signs which read: ‘No More Austerity’ and ‘Get the Tories Out.’
After meeting in Piccadilly Gardens, some of the protesters
marched through the city shouting “Revolution!”
Those in attendance included the Manchester branch of The
People’s Assembly Against Austerity, along with union members
from across the region. Various campaign groups also joined.
— Jon Scammell (@JonScammell) May
Young people also took
part in the protest. Holding up a sign that said ‘No Cuts,’
16-year-old Ben Little told Manchester Evening News that he
“can’t vote so this is the only way I can have a say. Even
though I am affected by the country’s future I have no say in
Others had more personal reasons for demonstrating.
“Austerity is cruel and severe and that’s why there is so
many people here today. I had my house repossessed last week. I
got to the point where I started to suffer from depression and am
now unemployed, everyone here has their own stories to
tell,” protester Paul Mallinson said.
— Sarah Cassidy (@SarahCassidy) May
Liam Callacher, one of
the organizers of the event, said the facilitators were
“overwhelmed” with the protest’s success, adding that he
believes around 2,000 people attended.
The 10 Greater Manchester authorities faced cuts of more than a
quarter of a billion pounds (US$387 billion) in 2015. This was on
top of the £1.2 billion ($1.85 billion) of cuts since the last
government’s austerity measures were introduced in 2010.
— Ian OBrien (@thepennyaliner) May
Osborne has warned the cuts will continue under the
Conservatives. Labour leaders, including Manchester council chief
Sir Richards Leese, have also warned the region faces another
The protest comes days before the Tories set out their
legislative plan in the Queen’s Speech.
Meanwhile, a separate protest was taking place in St. Ann’s
Square on Saturday, with homeless people setting up camp after
fighting for support from the council for the past few weeks.
An anti-austerity demonstration last month outside the city’s
Town Hall saw several protesters storm the building.