Marking the one-year anniversary of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity formation, vast swathes of people took to the streets to protest against the harsh cuts imposed by the coalition government. With speeches coming from the moving Francesca Martinez, comedians Russell Brand and Mark Steel, Green MP Caroline Lucas and journalist Owen Jones, the talks were both captivating and pertinent.

An estimated 50,000 people attended the march, the first organised piece of action from the People’s Assembly. The organisation will certainly be content with the success; a rare flash of left wing unity, as those turned up to fight their enemy: austerity. The spokesman for the People’s Assembly said that this ‘was just the start’, with more striking and powerful action scheduled for later this year.

As the speakers addressed the audience in Parliament Square, the back of the march was still travelling down from Regent Street, emphasising the colossal amount of people who did actually take part. An abundance of banners and proud flags provided the backdrop, with chants and songs reverberating through buildings.

People's Assembly

‘It wasn’t the poor who caused the economic crisis.’ Screamed Caroline Lucas. ‘So that’s why we’re here to say: stop punishing the poor.” As the talks gathered pace, the mood was jubilant as everyone rallied behind the current narrator; even Labour MP Dianne Abbott was greeted with a warm reception.

Apart from the plethora of impressive guest speakers and heavy celebrity presence, what innovative facets did this march posses? The government rarely responds to such acts of defiance, choosing constantly to ignore them. Will the government respond with haste? Doubtful. Unless windows were smashed and buildings torched, governments will not take note. It’s hard to see how Saturday’s march — however heavily attended — will be any different.

People, who attended the event, choose to brandish the BBC as right wing for it’s perceived lack of coverage. One supporter has even set up a petition calling for an immediate enquiry into the alleged media blackout from the broadcasting corporation. Whether there is an alleged bias at the BBC is hard to say, the discussion of political bias at the BBC is a question devoid of any conclusive answer.

Russell Brand’s belated appearance was met with claps and cheers, as Brand powerfully proclaimed: “The people of this building [the House of Commons] generally speaking do not represent us, they represent their friends in big business. It’s time for us to take back our power.” Whipping the crowd into frenzy of excitement, the Essex activist did at least sound candid and impassioned, despite his tardiness.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity has announced itself to the political world, and if it does carry on gaining momentum the public administration will have to listen. Critics might say that they have no true solutions. Yet, it’s not the job of protestors to have the answers — it’s to ask questions — which they did, with great vigour and Saturday was an impressive start.

David Cameron’s spokesman declined to even comment on Saturday’s demonstration. Time will tell how long the government will continue to give the People’s Assembly the cold shoulder.

BY: Liam Collins

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