4 Oct 2015

Manchester protest: thousands march in anti-austerity rally

Tens of thousands of people in Manchester march in protest against government police as the Conservative party hold their annual conference in the city.

It is thought at least 60,000 people joined the demonstrations protesting about cuts on benefits, NHS reforms and restrictions on the ability for trade unions to go on strike.

Singer Billy Bragg performed a warm up set for the crowd, changing the lyrics to his best-known songs to add references such as “take the money from Trident and spend it on the NHS” and “these Tory cuts will get me the sack”.

Jeremy Corbyn has appealed to those taking part to keep it peaceful. Conservatives attending the conference were advised by the party not to display their accreditation outside the secure area around the Manchester Central venue in case they came under attack.

The rally began in bright sunshine – with many holding banners from the country’s biggest trade union Unite.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey told the rally the protest was “sending a very clear message to this Tory Government”.

“If they think a fluke victory in which 75% of the electorate did not vote for them gave them a mandate to continue their cuts then they’ve got another thing coming.

“If they think they are going to have a smooth ride over the next five years, they’ve got another thing coming.

There will be hundreds of thousands of people hounding them, snapping at them and resisting them.”

The fight would be easier because in Mr Corbyn, Labour has a leader “who will stand shoulder to shoulder with us”, he said.

Journalists taunted

However there have been cases where members of the crowd shouted and taunted journalists covering the protest. Kate McCann for the Telegraph and Owen Bennett for the Huffington Post had to be protected by police at one point.

At another point a member of the Conservative Party was struck by an egg. Channel 4 News’ Michael Crick was spat on by some individuals as he tried to enter the conference hall.