The Guardian published an article on their website yesterday titled ‘Why we’re marching?’ and it gave the points of view of six people who were going to be attending the TUC organised rally on Saturday.
I am going to be attending. I have had a lot of time to consider whether to attend or not and what I think I might achieve by attending.
Firstly, I had to decide whether I attend as a member of my trade union (Unison) as a member of my professional association (BASW), as a member of my community (local group from the area I live are organising) or as a member of a pressure group (SWAN). I could also march as a part of a women’s ‘bloc’.
That, in itself is a question of identities and a practical lesson in some of the systems that we build around us and how we choose to identify ourselves. As it happens, I have chosen not to march under any particular banner but with a few friends together who would ally ourselves to different causes and who have different identities.
But back to the reasons and I’ll start with the negative reasons.
I don’t want to condone a government nor a society (because I do believe that the Labour Party have also been complicit in this) that ostracises and alienates people who depend on the support of the state to live dignified lives. Talk of ‘alarm clock’ Britain is offensive to me. Talk of the ‘deserving and undeserving’ claimants moves our society back to a Victorian age. I am not marching for my own job – I am fairly confident that that’s safe in one form or another – but I’m marching for the people whom I come into contact through my work who I see genuinely suffering and who exist on some of the fringes of the mainstream and will not be marching for themselves.
I will be marching for the carers who have having respite cut and the service users who are terrified to send off claims for Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance because they don’t want to be ‘seen as scroungers’.
As long as programmes such as ‘Saints and Scroungers’ are allowed to be made on our public service network, I’ll not stop fighting and shouting for a change to the attitudes towards social assistance in this country.
I see the effects of this every day and on many lives.
I’m marching to protest against a government and an opposition party that seek to make a wholesale reduction of 20% in claimants for Disability Living Allowance.
The PR machines of politicians have been working overtime to blur the lines between in-work benefits for disabled adults and out of work benefits. There is no subtlety in the government’s agenda and rhetoric and it needs to be challenged
I am marching against a system (and this is the last government as well) that has destroyed the quality of adult social care over the last decade so we remain absolutely dependent on private companies – their profits and their shareholders – for delivering care or lack of it to the most vulnerable people in our society. I am absolutely not excusing Labour for their role in this – ultimately, that’s why I am marching under my own banner rather than any set up by an organisation of which I am a member.
I also feel that I need to make my presence felt in the face of a government carrying out it’s politically motivated cuts which shriek of the worst Thatcherite policies.
I march as someone who did actually vote for the Liberal Democrats at the last election and many previous elections to ensure that my voice is not lost and my vote was not wasted when I make my opposition to this government felt.
I also march to express my anger at the government’s proposals to dismantle our National Health Service – helped by Labour’s policies over the past decade, it has to be said – but we need to make sure that the government remember that they have absolutely no mandate to do this.
Those reasons though, are mostly negative so here are the positive reasons that I am marching.
I am marching to show solidarity. To show that one doesn’t have to march because we are personally feeling the effects of the cuts, to be honest, I am not to a large extent – but because I need to make my voice heard on behalf of those who cannot and THAT is what big society and society as a whole is about.
I am marching to push for a re-examination of some of the cruellest policies and the lack of consideration of where the bulk of the cuts will fall – namely on those who are the least able to resist them.
These government programmes for cuts have been poorly thought through ‘trigger’ responses to a government that has no experience of governing and lives off entitlements themselves.
Is it any more ‘reprehensible’ to be wholly reliant on ‘daddy’s trust fund’? How many government ministers know the true meaning of poverty and how hard it is to work through it? I doubt there can be many.
We do not live in a meritocratic system and we need to prove that when voices are not heard through the ballot box we have other means to make our points.
Our ‘leaders’ say we are ‘all in this together’ but we are not and they cannot be allowed to get away with such lies. They are not ‘in this’ with us.
I am marching because I want to be a part of proving what we can really do when we are ‘all in this together’.
I am happy to pay higher taxes for services that I personally will never use or need. That is society. That is the society I want. That is the society I want to march with.
These cuts are ideologically driven. They are not ‘the only way’. That is why I am marching.
Anyone else going to be there? I can’t promise to meet up because it probably won’t be the most conducive environment to meet and have a chat but I’d be interested in the reasons of others.