A day of calm, resolute and peaceful protest
By Eleanor Rylance
Several East Devon LibDems attended the huge people's vote march in London at the weekend. People from all over the uk congregated at Hyde Park Corner for a march to parliament square some 2 miles away. Men, women, young, old, babes in arms and papooses, people in wheelchairs and on crutches, dogs, people who live so far away they'd had to fly or take overnight trains, children with handmade signs, a profusion of Bath berets (blue with yellow) stars, slogan t shirts, flags, placards, chatted, walked, occasionally stopped when the way ahead was too crowded, and all joined together in the biggest protest since the 20p3 stop the war march.
Will it work? We don't know. Will we get a Final Say vote on the final deal? Uncertain. But we can't not try, as some of our most prominent government politicians appear to be increasingly diverging from the mood of a great swathe of decent, ordinary, people. At a time when the language of some of these politicians is becoming regrettably inflammatory, it was good for the country to be reminded that many people are not swayed by it. We have to do *something*, everything we legally, decently and honestly can to ensure we are not dragged off to a very dark place.
The weather was gloriously autumnal, the sun shone, the mood in the crowd remained polite, calm and good-tempered. Amazingly for a march of an estimated three quarters of a million people, not a single arrest was made nor any disturbance reported. The Met Police have not issued precise figures for numbers of marchers but at 4pm the entire march route was reported to be full from Parliament Square to Hyde Park Corner.
An activist from Liverpool for Europe had set up a camera to film the entire length of the march at 20 times its actual speed- the film is 6 minutes and 40 seconds long, and gives you a fair idea of the sheer scale of the march. Click here to view it. (This will take you to Youtube).
Those lucky enough to reach Parliament Square or one of the the various relay screens were treated to speeches from a large range of speakers representing the organisations involved in the march. Those who could not walked at the pace of the march to the Square, many not reaching it till after 5pm.
Speaking purely personally, I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting what peaceful, polite, yet firm protest can be in Britain. Having also been at the 2003 march against the war in Iraq, it was a timely reminder that despite the somewhat raucous nature of our current politics, it takes a lot to get the British motivated to turn out to protest, but that when we do, our mass protests are so very essentially decent.