Rolling coverage from Manchester anti-austerity demo

At least 85,000 people took part in today’s anti-austerity protest at Tory Conference in Manchester, called by the People’s Assembly and the TUC. 

Manchester UNISON banner

5.20pm

And we’re done. A good turnout, with a huge protest that brought together a wide range of protesters, all uniting in opposing austerity – anti-racist, trade unions, disabled campaigners, environmentalists to name but a few. Good to see Len McCluskey talking about strike action – but less happy to read reports this morning that he will accept parts of the Trade Union Bill if the Tories accept online voting. Good to see a few Labour Party branches, though we’d hoped for more – and where were the Labour Party speakers? Today would have been a great opportunity for Jeremy Corbyn to put himself at the head of the anti-austerity movement and strengthen his support against both the Labour right and the Tories. But the protest was lively and young, with a strong anti-capitalist edge, and that bodes well for the months to come.

We’ll sign off with a few of our favourite pig pics from a thoroughly enjoyable day in sunny Manchester.

pigs3

pig pig2

4.55pm

Tory who was egged was brandishing a picture of Thatcher at the demo, reports the Independent.

4.30pm

Junior doctors speak at the rally to big applause.

junior doctors

4.10pm

BBC report puts attendance at “up to 85,000”, and refers to “huge numbers of people” taking part. Greater Manchester Political Reporter writes, “Many of those gathered are holding placards and are chanting slogans against the cuts. Some are pushing prams, others in wheelchairs. A few hundred feet away from the site of the Conservative conference, the sound of whistles and horns fills the air. These people are angry, passionate and determined to have their voice heard.”

4.00pm

Thousands at final rally – and that’s just part of the demo. Owen Jones speaking now.

final rally crowd

3.50pm

The Telegraph is reporting that Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt left the ring of steel and “faced the wrath of angry protesters.” Telegraph reporter Michael Wilkinson tweets “That was genuinely terrifying. Protesters came after us shouting ‘Tory scum’.”

Jeremy Hunt

3.40pm

This Tory delegate has been hit by an egg, according to reports on Twitter. Anyone know where you can get an expensive suit dry cleaned on a Sunday afternoon in Manchester?

egged Tory

3.30pm

Final rally has now heard from Natalie Bennett of the Green Party and Kate Hudson from CND, who told the rally “we can defeat Trident”.

Final rally

3.20pm

Here’s a pic of part of the “ring of steel” that surrounds the conference. Never seen anything like this before.

cordon

3.15pm

The end of the demo has finally moved off. Huge protest.

3.05pm

Reports that the cops are stopping people getting into Castlefield for the final rally, saying it’s full – you can see here that it clearly isn’t.

Castlefield

3.00pm

But marchers at the back of the demo report they are just setting off – protesters covering the whole route.

2.35pm

Marchers now arriving at final rally.

2.15pm

Some more banners, including black students – watch out for Students Not Suspects tour against the government’s Islamophobic Prevent agenda this term.

black students

Cameron has invited Egyptian ruler al-Sisi to Britain despite the fact that he came to power by overthrowing the elected president. Since then the former president has been sentenced to death and government violence against political opponents has escalated.

sisi banner

A great banner from East Midlands Unite.

unite banner

2.10pm

March has reached Tory conference venue in central Manchester, loud chanting as it passes.

1.55pm

Great pic shows the size of the demo as it reaches the centre of Manchester. #notoausterity now trending on Twitter.

Demo marches into Manchester.

1.50pm

UNITE estimate there are currently 85,000 people taking part.

1.40pm

March has set off.

1.35pm

This is only one small part of the march as it assembles. It’s clearly very big. TUC saying it will set off shortly.

Large march assembles

1.25pm

And here are a few more photos that show how the protest is uniting an inspiring range of different groups, including climate protesters…

ClimateJobs

… and Filipino activists…

Filipino

and disabled people.

Manchester Disabled

1.20pm

NUS President Megan Dunn speaking about the impact of austerity on students.

Megan Dunn, NUS President

1.10pm

Speeches have now started. Big cheer for Len McCluskey as he calls for solidarity with the steel workers.

Len McCluskey on platform

1.05pm

Here are some more pics – there’s a huge range of groups here, including these bedroom tax campaigners from Bolton.

Bolton against Bedroom Tax

These members of the GMB union from Bolton are doing the pig thing.

Boplton GMB

Members of the CWU, the Communication Workers Union.

CWU

DPAC has played a crucial role in highlighting the impact of cuts.

dpac

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of UNITE, with members from the Teesside steel plant threatened with closure.

McCluskey Redcar

PCS union members from the National Gallery, who on Friday won the reinstatement of union activist Candy Udwin, shown here next to PCS leader Mark Serwotka.

National Gallery

LGBT members of public sector union UNISON from north west England

NW UNISON LGBT

12.35pm

Here’s a selection of photos as the demo assembles.

NHS staff

Witty climate change banner has the Tory torch heating the globe.

climate change

The Tories plan to spend over £15 billion renewing Trident – spend it on homes and the NHS, say CND.

CND placards

One protester has a straightforward message for Cameron

cuts

Protesters from Equity, the actors’ union

 

Equity

It’s a while since we’ve seen many Labour Party banners on a demo, so good on Tameside.

Tameside Labour

Protesters against TTIP, a free trade agreement which could threaten the NHS, have an inflatable Trojan horse.

TTIP

USDAW isn’t the most left-wing of unions, but they’re very colourful.

USDAW

12.20pm
Over 60 coaches from all around Britain are converging on Manchester, as well as a UNITE train from London. Expect to hear from a huge range of groups. Disabled protesters DPAC will be highlighting the murderous effect of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts. CND will be arguing that there’s no need to spend billions on Trident. Unions will be opposing undemocratic attacks on the right to strike. Everyone will be buoyed up by the recent election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. And we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the occasional pig.

The day begins at 12.30 with music as people assemble, followed by speeches at 1pm. The march moves off at 1.30, and there’s a rally at the end from about 3.30 to 4pm.

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