Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Manchester NHS March in Pictures

Well done to everyone organising transport to Manchester on Sunday; it was a pretty slick operation. There must have been hundreds of them, and somehow everyone managed to end up in the right place.

Eventually we got moving. There were police everywhere at first, but they rather faded out as we left the commercial centre, apart from dogs outside the Tory conference venue. The high point of theiir operation as far as I was concerned was a horse which suddenly bolted, leaving its rider sprawling in the dirt.

After a bit we passed the Tory conference venue, accompanied by loud boos, while the police dogs remained at a safe distance behind a barrier. The odd man in a suit scuttled past, no doubt worrying about ropes and lamp posts.

Allegedly a BBC presenter was prevented from filming by the security there, but they weren't in evidence, and even if that is the case, it doesn't explain why they didn't film the rest of the protest, or just move across the road.

Funny how we felt so much more secure than they did! I wonder what they think they've got to be so scared of?

The march was quite long - I suppose it had to be given the numbers expected; on the day; on the day, the police were saying it was a mile and a half long. By the time it reached the press, that had shrunk to a mile. I haven't been well, and by the time we got to the park where the rally was held, I was feeling it.

We had music at various points to keep us going, though judging by the straggle towards the end, I don't think I was the only one finding it hard going.

Eventually I got the the park. I wasn't the first to get there by any means, but I did manage to get right to the front, and promptly met a photographer I know from Birmingham. So I spent an hour or so listening to some excellent speeches, which are slowly appearing on Youtube. I'll post them all once everything's up.

At the time, the police seemed to be estimating 55 000 people. It shrank later to 50 000, but they had a helicopter up all day, so it's a safe bet they'll have a very good idea of the numbers. They've got such a long record of grossly underestimating the numbers at protests that you can probably add another 20-30 000 to that. When I went looking for the coach, the tail end of the procession was still coming in.

 Andy Burnham swore blind they'd repeal the Tories' health act in their first Queen's Speech, but no more than that. If they don't keep their promises, they'll be forever discredited, but what about undoing the privatisation which will already have taken place; what about sorting out the PFI mess? There's far more to do than just a repeal.

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