*Put People First


‘Put People First’ march, London 28/03/09

“It’s March 28th, 2009, 7:00hrs and a bright, crisp morning. I join two others where the coach is to stop and we introduce ourselves with warm friendliness but cold hands. I am a first-timer but these two are veterans. Viv, an ex-precision engineer and now a free-lance gardener, first demo’ed when he was 27, in ’81, on a march for jobs. Viv can talk knowledgeably about the history and ups and downs of politics and says “It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” His philosophy of ‘Have Less, Be More’ strikes a positive chord in me. Gloria, in her mid-seventies now, started standing up for what she stands for at school, when she refused to bow down to the monarchy. “We should be a republic, you know, for the people”, she says. Tim , our young organiser, adds that the party system needs abolishing, but Viv warns that the vote was fought for, long and hard.

I wonder if all the presidents in the world add up to a convincing argument for laying off our monarchy, but that is not the point here. We are going to London to walk under the banner of Put People First’.

The coach stops en-route and gradually fills up with more demo’ers, who chat quietly until we arrive in the City. At Victoria Embankment we blend into the gathering crowd, which is here to represent over 150 global organisations under this flag. (see http://www.putpeoplefirst.org.uk/ for the list).

The mood is cheerful, mixed with an air of anticipation, and the police are passive and quiet. Boris Johnson’s “crusties and ear-rings” – in fact, ordinary, sensibly-dressed people of all ages – start walking down the cleared route of 4.3miles towards Hyde Park. There is no aggro, just a cheerful, orderly swathe of people enjoying the occasion, but taking this opportunity to represent how the People feel about our current ‘crisis’ very seriously indeed. Many have prepared banners, leaflets, colour co-ordinated clothes and eye-catching costumes. The most eye-catching are banana suits.

That’s the reason for being here – to catch the eye of those responsible for having let the ‘crisis’ happen, for letting us down and, ultimately, for getting us out of it – the G20, the world’s top 20 leaders, including our own Prime Minister, Gordon Brown… particulary our own Gordon Brown. As Mr Daniel Hannan so eloquently said in his European Parliament speech last week – Britain is worse off than any other European country and he knows, and we know, and he knows that we know! (see http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1184614595?bctid=17690501001 for the video)

There are as many onlookers of tourists, shoppers, police persons, film crews and photographers as there are walkers – the passive and the active sides of this demonstration of the public voice.

Viv and I enter Hyde Park before the head of the human serpent and Gloria goes off to find a pitch to sell her paper, the ‘Morning Star’. A modest stage, large screen and speakers have been set ready at ‘Speakers’ Corner’. The crowd approaches, banners high. After a while the timely team of speakers are introduced by Tony Robinson, each presenting a passionate soliliquy on social emergencies. Then the warm sun is eclipsed by a sleety shower.

Yet no ‘incident’ eclipses the gentle, friendly solidarity of the ordinary British folk who have come to vote with their feet against the injustices and imbalances in social politics in 2009. Whether any of the G20, let alone Mr Brown, will have noticed this demonstration, or not, it is a fact that radical change is brought about by a change in collective consciousness and there is plenty of evidence that a change is happening right now. “

Wendy Salter 28/03/09

(Click on thumbnail then ‘back’)

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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