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article imageVideo: Massive crowds hit UK streets in anti-austerity protest

By Anne Sewell     Oct 21, 2012 in World
London - It was the UK's turn to hit the streets on Saturday in protest against austerity measures and budget cuts. Tens of thousands participated with a wide range of different groups involved.
Amidst cries of "Pay your taxes", more than 100,000 protesters poured into the streets of London, Belfast and Glasgow, angry at the Government's austerity measures which they say are killing Britain.
Protesters were blowing whistles, waving flags and banners, reading ‘Cameron has butchered Britain’, ‘cut war not welfare’, and ‘need before greed’.
The protest was led by a group of unemployed young people, nurses, teachers and off-duty policemen, along with anti-war activists and politicians. In all three demonstrations (London, Glasgow and Belfast), there was a strong trade union presence.
Around 250 coaches were laid on to transport people into London for the demonstration, with similar numbers in Belfast and Glasgow.
According to RT's Sara Firth, who was in London during the march, protesters are mainly concerned about cuts to the National Health Service (NHS) and the police and armed forces.
“People have turned out here today from all walks of life. Families and all age groups are being affected by this,” Firth said.
One demonstrator told Firth, “We want our children to have a good education and good health care, this is what my grandmother, who was a suffragette – [the women who fought for the female vote in Britain] – actually fought for and my father spent six years in north Africa fighting for a decent country and this government is going to destroy it.”
The head of the Trade Union's Congress (TUC), Brendan Barber, said that the protesters are sending the message that austerity just isn't working.
"We are sending a very strong message that austerity is simply failing. The Government is making life desperately hard for millions of people because of pay cuts for workers, while the rich are given tax cuts," he said.
Dave Prentis, the leader of Unison, Britain’s biggest public sector trade union, told RT, “The government doesn’t understand the pain that their cuts and their economic program are having in communities up and down the country. And the government needs to swallow its pride and go for plan B, because Plan A just isn’t working.”
Children were seen representing Unison in the streets, dressed as nurses, police officers and chefs, to stress that it is their future that is being taken away, carrying banners saying for example "David Cameron ate my future." A photo can be seen here.
Union leaders are calling for a general strike and even more protests to get their message through to the UK government.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament protesting in London  October 20  2012.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament protesting in London, October 20, 2012.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Among the thousands of protesters, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Stop the War Coalition were well represented, slamming the government for the "disastrous" implications for public services financing, from the commitment of tens of billions of UK pounds to a new nuclear weapons system.
Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition said, "The war in Afghanistan will cost £20 billion over the next four years - exactly the amount that the government is trying to cut from the National Health Service through 'savings'."
Among the politicians in the demonstration, Labour leader, Ed Milliband took to the stage in a rally in Hyde Park after the march. He said that if elected his party would “stand for all the young people in the country who want to work in Britain but cannot find it today.”
Milliband accused Cameron of 'clinging' to strategies that were failing to work and said that the joint government was cutting taxes for millionaires, while raising them for those earning much less.
'It is one rule for those at the top and one rule for everyone else,' he said.
Video: Police clash with protesters:
Video: Stop the War Coalition - why they were marching on October 20:
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