Moonlight Phoenix has risen

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The People’s Assembly Manchester Protest

on October 15, 2015

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A few weeks ago I took part in a protest march organised by The People’s Assembly

The protest was in Manchester, while the Conservatives/Tories conference was on, and the protest was all about the cuts and austerity that the party have been bringing as well as other problematic issues. There has been marches here before, but only this time did I find out that Southend Against the Cuts

had organised a coach that would be picking people up from Southend and nearby areas, and would be very inexpensive especially when compared to train prices, and I felt strongly that I needed to be there, so I made sure I booked my place, despite the very long journey, I knew it would be worth it.

Why I felt I had to be there

A lot of reasons really. Firstly the cuts have affected me personally. The benefits my husband was claiming got severely cut, as the rules changed, and all of a sudden I was working too many hours to be claiming benefits, then when I worked the hours I was “allowed”, they gave the benefit back but at much more than half the rate it was. We are in a privileged position though, as my husband no longer has the same severity of health problems, he decided to use the situation to take the steps to go self employed, which has turned out really well for us. HOWEVER, this is not the case for many people who this or similar has happened to. The cuts have been affecting the most vulnerable of society- the disabled, abused women (with cuts to domestic abuse services), and other important services like the NHS, young people, students and so much more.

Other reasons- the Tories are pro fox hunting,pro badger cull, pro fracking and pro Trident, to name a few. I would say I am the opposite of all that they represent. I’ve seen friends and others affected by the cuts. I believe there is strength in numbers, and the more of us that speak out, the better. Maybe we won’t get listened to at first, but sooner or later, if we keep shouting, keep making ourselves visible, we WILL get heard. I really believe this. For those who believe things will never change, well isn’t it better to say you have tried..?

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On the day itself I had to get up at an ungodly hour as my coach pick up was at 7.10am! Luckily the stop was a short walk from my home. My friend Helene got on at the next stop, and somehow with the anticipation and chatted, I managed to stay awake for the 5 hour journey! I was pleased when we made a stop at a service station though and there was a Costa, so I could get myself a soya latte! The protest sort of begun while we were there, while we were queuing for coffee, there was some shouting. Assuming it was just other people on the way to Manchester getting a bit excited, I didn’t think that much of it when we heard shouting about the bedroom tax and ‘f**king scum’. Then we heard from another person on the coach that Ian Duncan Smith had been there and that was what the shouting was about! What are the chances that we would all be in exactly the same service station he decided to go…?? here is an article that mentions the incident here

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It was around 12 when we got to Manchester and all ready thousands of people were gathering. Like the London anti austerity march, it was filled with ordinary people- parents, children, doctors, disabled people, elderly people, and much more. The march itself didn’t set of until 1.30pm, so we took the chance to take some photos, and listen to some of the talks at the start, as well as listening to Billy Bragg sing. At some point we managed to lose the rest of our crowd, as it was just too easy to get separated.

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The march itself took around an hour and felt good spirited. There were drummers, people dressed up and chants like “If you hate the Tories, Clap your hands!” We even spotted a Veggies stall that had vegan cake and other goods you could get for a donation, so I couldn’t resist! We also signed a petition for a Green Power house in Manchester.

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When the march ended, we decided to have a quick stop to have something to eat and get some photos of us with our banners

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Then we made our way in the direction of where the rally was taking place, but there was a line of police blocking us from entering! We started hearing from some other protesters that the police were claiming the space was full when in fact it wasn’t. A few people that were part of the organisation advised to be patient as they would try to sort it out. Lucky for Helene and myself it got resolved quite quick so we were only held for a few minutes before we could go through. However, when we went to the rally it still wasn’t full and we later found out that we seemed to be the only ones from our coach that had actually made it into the rally as the police had started stopping people once again.

Luckily we got to see a fair few speeches before we had to make our way back to the coach. We saw Natalie Bennett, Charlotte Church, the CND, and a few others. I really enjoyed Natalie Bennett and Charlotte Church’s speeches especially.

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We got a little lost on our way back to the coach but eventually we found it, and we relieved to find out we weren’t the last ones back! By the time we left it was 5.30pm, and with another stop it was around 11.30pm by the time we got back.

A worthwhile day.

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