Anti-cuts Demonstration - Saturday March 26th 2011.
250,000 people (the police estimate) or twice that number (the TUC) formed an extraordinary coalition of protesters marching to stop the government cuts; they included thousands of trade unionists, veteran activists, first-time protesters, grandparents and parents with young children.
My intention was to photograph the spectacle - the marchers, stewards, police, shoppers, tourists and the disengaged. I came up from the Underground at Charing Cross Station and joined the crowds walking up the Strand towards the start on the Embankment near Blackfriars Bridge. Due to the huge numbers already there I decided to retrace my steps and joined the marchers at Trafalgar Square. We progressed along Pall Mall up Lower Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus and then down Piccadilly to Hyde Park Corner and into Hyde Park where Unite's Len McCluskey, the TUC's No 2 Frances O'Grady, Unison's Dave Prentis, Mark Serwotka of the PCS, Leo Gerard of the TUC's US counterpart the AFL-CIO, and other union leaders and VIP's addressed the assembled crowd. Spirits were high and the atmosphere was relaxed and attentive.
After the speeches I walked via Marble Arch down Oxford Street to Oxford Circus. Along this route demonstrators were staging many small peaceful protests organised by UK Uncut together with other actions which may have been spontaneous. The attitude of the mainly very young crowd was good natured but defiant and most of the police officers were on their best behaviour.