Why I'll Be Marching Against Government Cuts On Saturday

23/03/2011 12:51 | Updated 22 May 2015

In these days of hyper-consumerism, it can feel as though the way we spend our money – or choose not to - is the only way left to express our values.

We can buy environmentally-friendly products, ones that promise to be fairly-traded, ethically-sourced or organic. We can decide not to buy products made or grown in certain countries or not to part with our cash in particular shops. Or there's always charity giving (more spending) to make ourselves feel we are changing things.

Well, people, there is another way. This Saturday, thousands of people are expected to converge on central London to demonstrate against the cuts our government appears hell-bent on implementing, despite the fact that none of us voted for them. Nearly 6,000 people have already pledged to join the March for the Alternative and organisers hope up to 100,000 will turn up on the day.

Even though it means getting the family out of the house early on a Saturday (no mean feat with a strong-willed toddler), braving the crowds and most likely terrible slogans and probably getting sore feet, I will be joining them.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC), the umbrella group for Britain's unions, has organised the demonstration to call on ministers to think again about the way they tackle the deficit. Yes, the country's debt problem must be tackled, it says, but the government's approach is politically motivated and unnecessary.

Firstly, aiming to eliminate the deficit in just four years doesn't allow time for economic growth to help increase the amount of money raised from taxes and therefore help deal with the deficit. In reality, cuts may increase the need for even more cuts, since they will make more people unemployed and depress the economy further.

Secondly, deciding to raise most of the money to pay back the deficit through cuts to public services rather than increases in taxes is unfair. Although the financial sector caused the recession, banks are not being asked to make a fair contribution. In fact, their bonus culture continues unabated.

All of this makes sense to me, and I'll be pleased to be able to do something about it instead of just moaning to my friends and worrying about what state this country will be in by the time my daughter goes to secondary school.

We know about the big things this government has planned - a destructive NHS reorganisation (ministers this week buried research showing record levels of public satisfaction with the health service, increases in university fees, cuts in student grants and an end to much of arts funding.

But there are also the things which seem small but make people's lives bearable. My local paper this week reported that a bus service offering essential transport to elderly and disabled people is likely to stop because the council – whose central government grant has been cut by £40million this year – has withdrawn funding. One woman said the day the bus comes is the only time she is able to leave the house. She told the paper: "I won't be able to get out if it goes."

Okay, so an afternoon of marching might not change the world. But it's got to be worth a try, hasn't it?


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