Thousands say 'People First' in Scottish anti-cuts march

By staff writers
3 Oct 2011

Many thousands of people marched in Glasgow this weekend to protest against government cuts and call for a just UK-wide economic policy.

The People First rally brought together politicians from a range of parties, trade unionists and faith groups campaigning to protect those hardest hit by service and benefits cuts across Britain.

The march left Glasgow Green at 12am on Saturday 1 October and included a range of fringe events in places of worship, student unions and hotels across the city.

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, commented: "We have been joined by thousands of people from all over Scotland and from its diverse communities for the People First demonstration."

He continued: "First and foremost this sends a clear message to the coalition Government and Tory Party conference that we need a Plan B now to avoid recession, rising poverty and damaging cuts in services."

"But it also says to politicians of all parties civic society will come together to ensure that policies at all levels of government serve the purpose of redistributing wealth and protecting those hit by cuts in services," said Smith.

Labour leader Iain Gray MSP, who also attended the march, accused the Scottish Government of passing on Conservative cuts. The SNP says in response that Labour would have done the same, only worse.

Mr Gray declared: "As for the Tory-led government, now is the time for people right across Scotland to send a clear message to David Cameron and George Osborne: your austerity programme is not working - change course now."

Glasgow Kelvin SNP MSP Sandra White, said: "We must strive towards a Scotland where all have the opportunity to reach their potential and where we live in a fair and just society where inequality is tackled at every level. When the gap between rich and poor grows even wider we must stand in solidarity and work together to create greater social equality throughout Scotland. Yes the deficit needs to be reduced but it should not be reduced on the back of public sector workers."

Patrick Harvie, Glasgow's Green MSP, who spoke at the rally in Kelvingrove Park, said ahead of the demonstration: "Almost one year ago I joined the STUC rally in Edinburgh and joined all those calling for a better way of dealing with the economic mess we're in. Over the last year, we've seen Conservative and Lib Dem politicians cutting ever deeper into public services, and the SNP largely handing the cuts straight on to Scottish services and public sector workers. The case against this reckless cuts agenda has grown ever stronger, but the Coalition has chosen in the meantime to treble tuition fees for large numbers of students, slash public sector jobs and pensions and cut funding to countless local services.

"The likes of Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and Alexander must be the only people unable to see that their free market ideology is in crisis. The Right has failed utterly, and instead of a cure has only another dose of economic poison to offer," he added.

"We are coming together in Glasgow to show the Coalition that a united and determined movement is mounting a powerful campaign against this attack on Scotland's jobs and services," said Harvie.

[Ekk/3]

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