What can I add to my words of yesterday on the G20 protest march in London? The police estimate of 35,000 marchers was near enough right. There were possibly 50,000, but certainly no more than that. It was a good-natured event (as I wrote yesterday, “a family fun day out”), and the policing was relatively low-key. No trouble was reported, even from the well-organised contingent of a few hundred black-block anarchists, who were no doubt saving their energy for next Wednesday. The worst than can be said is that the protest lacked focus and passion.
The march was organised by a coalition of trade unions, anti-poverty charities and environmental campaign groups, but all the usual ultra-left sects were out selling their papers. One young man handed me a “Workers Power” leaflet, but this individual has almost certainly never done a day’s work in his life, and rarely rises before noon. And then there was the well-spoken young lady who introduced herself to me as being “a journalist from Socialist Worker”. Those words don’t sit easily together, and I politely declined the request for an interview, referring the lass instead to my NUJ colleague holding the other end of our union banner as we approached Piccadilly Circus.
Carrying a union banner in a stiff wind is not something I would recommend. Still, I’m glad I did it, and that the NUJ had a presence on the march, albeit a very small one in comparison with some other organisations of similar size. The public sector workers’ union Unison had a huge presence on the march, and I was very impressed with the design of their banners and other materials.
The weather was a mixture of sunny spells and short, sharp rain showers, with a little hail at one point in the proceedings. It rained on the rally in Hyde Park, and many people headed off to the pub rather than stay and listen to dull speeches from the usual suspects. This aspect of the event organisation was distinctly unimpressive.
Unfortunately, my day was ruined by the theft of my bike, which I’d parked outside the Royal Festival Hall before crossing the river on foot to where the march began on Victoria Embankment. I thought it would be safe to lock my precious velo up there, what with hundreds of people constantly milling about the South Bank arts complex, and a strong police presence due to the march. But no, these people obviously ignored the thief, who would have required heavy duty boltcutters and some time to deal with the lock protecting my bike. And of course the Metropolitan Police are not interested in bicycle theft.
See here for the BBC News coverage of the Put People First protest.