500,000 March Against Cuts

April 1, 2011 Updated: April 4, 2011

Between 400,000 and 500,000 people attended a demonstration in London on March 26th to protest against cuts in government spending. It was the largest gathering in London since protests against the Iraq war.

The protest, organised by the TUC (Trade Union Congress), was largely peaceful but small breakaway groups attacked banks and stores, and fought with police in Oxford Street.

Participating in the main protest was Dani De Beaumont, children's services manager at Barnardos and member of the Unison trade union. He said: "Coming here to the march and then seeing thousands and thousands of people being affected by what's happening, its quite moving. Our cut will be 12 per cent, which is less than anticipated, but nevertheless it's going to have quite an impact on the work we're doing and people will lose their jobs.

“As to the effect of what that march will achieve is, I'm not under the illusion that it is going to achieve anything within the decision making process. Because a lot of the students rioted, a lot of people considered that they crossed the line and they had a negative effect. The vast majority didn't cross the line but there were a few in the minority that did some things which were not good and I think it changed public opinion, perhaps for the worse."

Labour leader Ed Miliband addressed crowds in Hyde Park. He said: "Our fight, friends, is to fight to preserve, protect, and defend the things we value. David Cameron, you wanted to create a big society, this is the big society."

Police arrested 214 people for vandalism, aggravated trespass, and criminal damage. Most of the arrests took place following the occupation of the Fortnum and Mason store by protesters from UK Uncut. Rioters also targeted banks including HSBC, Lloyds, and RBS, the Ritz hotel, Topshop, and a Porsche dealer.

The Treasury Select Committee announced on March 28th that it would set up an inquiry to investigate corporate tax avoidance.