Miliband speaks to 500,000 protesters

starbucks damagedLabour leader Ed Miliband told protesters at the TUC's March for the Alternative rally in Hyde Park that cuts were necessary but the coalition government was cutting too far, too fast. Miliband spoke alongside TUC general secretary Brenden Barber and other trade union, church and community groups.

500,000 protesters

The police estimated the march had attracted 500,000 protesters. Marchers were still on the Embankment when the first round of speeches in Hyde Park finished about 2.15. The good-natured crowd endured a rain shower as the speeches started.

Some protesters booed Ed Miliband when he stood to speak, but he received loud cheers as he attacked the depth and speed of the proposed cuts. He said the marchers were following in the footsteps of the suffragettes, US civil rights protesters and anti-apartheid campaigners, all of whom had won their fights.

Sporadic violence

Elsewhere sporadic violence, mainly against property, marred the march. Starbucks and the Ritz hotel were hit, on Piccadilly. Windows were smashed and paint daubed on the buildings. Tax protest group UKUncut occupied the world famous Fortnum & Masons.

Damage at the Ritz hotel

A separate protest in Oxford Street, organised by UKUncut also involved targeting Sir Philip Green's Top Shop chain. He is accused of avoiding paying UK tax on his business by having it in his Monaco-resident wife's name.

Buses lay abandoned after the short-lived violence and protesters remained, talking to shoppers about why they opposed the tax avoiders. Reporter Martin Cloake is in the crowd. Here's a video from his phone of the demonstrators in front of the damaged Top Shop.

UKUncut used a coloured card system, giving different coloured cards to protesters and telling them to follow that colour. Organisers then moved in different directions with coloured umbrellas, flags and banners to lead the crowd. They moved too fast for the police, who had no idea in which direction they were heading.

Family fun

For the majority of marchers it has so far been a fun, peaceful day. Families and groups have been singing, marching and having fun. London was seriously disrupted but for most marchers the police stayed well away and allowed the peaceful protest to continue.

At Hyde Park, TUC general secretary said: "The coalition government has turned out to be a demolition government." He is said the NHS was already in "intensive care" and facing "the gravest threat in its history".

Denise Marshall, chief executive of women's charity Eaves, who returned her OBE earlier this year in protest at the government's cuts said it was not David Cameron's Big Society that was important but having a civil society.


Ed Miliband asked how it could be right that ordinary families had their taxes increased when banks had their taxes cut. "We are not talking about the politics of envy but the politics of fairness," he said.

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