Why I’m marching


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.

Uni brennt Demonstration Wienketu@Flickr

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.

Fund Our Future : Stop the Cuts - National DemonstrationMatt Dinnery@Flickr

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.

9 thoughts on “Why I’m marching

  1. Pingback: Why I’m marching - Fighting Monsters - Member blogs - Social Work Blog - Carespace from Community Care

  2. I’ll be there. I have also had to decide what banner to march under. I have decided to march in the women’s bloc, both for political reasons (I believe that the cuts will massively impact upon women’s services which are already stretched far too thinly, and attending the Million Women Rise march a few weeks ago and hearing about some amazing domestic and sexual violence services which are having to close their doors really brought this home to me) but also because I think I will feel safer marching with a large group of other women, as I have always found feminist events to be very safe environments where everyone helps each other out! I will also, however, be marching against cuts to education (I attended the original NUS demo in November – no I didn’t throw any fire extinguishers!), public services, and in particular the NHS, an organisation which I have worked in, used, and hope to have a career in. I’ll be waving an “I ❤ the NHS" placard!

  3. I’ll be there. I can’t say that I feel very positive about the prospect that the march will change anything, but I feel like I have to do something. I’ll be taking photos and will put them on my blog.

  4. Hello,
    I wasn’t sure where to post this, so I hope it’s ok in the comments section. I wanted to say a huge thank you for this amazing blog. It’s been a really useful and interesting source of information. I love the way you write and I like hearing your views. I’m 22 years old and I’m going to university in September to do a BA in Social Work (as a mature student). I’ve been following for a while and reading this just confirmed how much I want to do social work. Your blog has been really helpful in keeping me up-to-date with regards to current issues, which was a question that came up in all of my interviews.
    Your blog is top of my favourites list!
    Sophie 🙂

    • Thanks for the comments!
      Sophie – you can email me directly via the ‘Contact me’ tab and feel free to if you have any specific questions 🙂

  5. I am marching too. I am marching for all the reasons that you have mentioned above, but for many more too.

    The Neoliberalism that was introduced under Thatcher has never gone away: it has got stronger. Like you I am not for or against any political party. I am against the consensual approach of all parties that work to neoliberalism; New Labour more than anyone.

    By neoliberalism I mean: Private is best, reduction in the welfare state and the genuflection to big business. Deborah Doane articulates it far better in her article in the guardian today – http://is.gd/HExmy2.
    This neoliberalism is the ideology of government. They might never mention it but it is the unquestioned rationale that they work to. It is the Ideology that private is best which has resulted in the horrendously expensive Private Finance Initiative and Private companies being awarded contracts with no evidence that it provides a cheaper and higher quality alternative. When Cameroon was asked if he would increase funding once the deficit had been eradicated he replied no. That means these cuts can only be ideological.

    Ironically the increased responsibility that governments say that people should take for their own needs and problems – which has led to policies such as welfare to work etc – disadvantage the vulnerable and poorest, whilst rich are the recipients of unfettered government protection.
    There has been the biggest shift of public capital to private companies with the bank bailouts and we accept this almost without protest.
    The reduction of regulation in markets that caused the credit crunch is now being trumpeted as the very answer to the credit crunch. This budget has been full of cutting “red tape”, but this red tape is the checks and balances of a functioning democracy. The reduction of HMRC and regulating tax avoidance and minimal care homes inspections are an example of this. The deregulation and subsequent lack responsibility that these large corporations have acquired is growing.

    At the same time the public sector is subject to more and more top down regulation and procedures that stifles any professional and grassroot progressive changes that could be introduced. This coupled to the stigmatisation of the public by politicians blame all problems on the vested interest of the public hides all the good work that does go on.
    We have also seen the privatisation of our government: the secondment of staff from big business to political offices, the finance of political office by big companies, the revolving door of staff between these big companies and govt and the employment of our politicians by big businesses when they are still in govt. Spin watch have done an excellent expose on this – http://is.gd/U8PH6h

    Cameron took account when Blair said that he wished he had done more in his first years in office to introduce more policies. He is doing it in a headlong unplanned and ideologically driven way.

    As the bank of England Governor recently said:
    “Now is the period when the cost is being paid. I’m surprised the real anger hasn’t been greater than it has,”

    Maybe its time we did we did get angry.

    We get what we deserve as a society and I don’t think anybody deserves a society and country that is governed in the interests of the rich and powerful.

  6. I should have read this post before leaving my other questions! This is beautiful, not just as an explanation of how you’re approaching participation in such a critical issue, but also as a reminder of our shared obligations, of what it means to be part of a society, and what citizenship really must look like if we’re to create a society worth claiming. Thank you so much for sharing. And for marching.

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