UK Activist Summary
From 3-7 October, five days of protests were held outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. Around 200 people gathered on 5 October to denounce the ongoing austerity programme and cuts to the public sector, particularly changes to the National Health Service (NHS).
On 6 October, around 200 protesters rallied outside the conference ahead of a speech by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Smaller rallies were also held in support of migrants with demonstrators calling on the government to ease controls on immigration. Earlier protests included a ‘flashmob’ at Manchester Piccadilly station on 3 October to ‘welcome’ delegates to the conference. Other fringe demonstrations were held.
Some of the actions resulted in low-level violence, with eggs and other objects being thrown at attendees on 4 October. There were also incidents of spitting and verbal abuse. The Greater Manchester Police made 15 arrests during the demonstrations, of which the People’s Assembly Against Austerity had bene the main organiser.
The trend of anti-government protests will continue throughout November. For example, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is organising a number of demonstrations. A protest in support of the NHS is due to be held outside Manchester Cathedral on 11 November to denounce new contracts, which NHS staff claim will affect healthcare standards. In addition, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is organising a protest in Trafalgar Square for 24 November intended to coincide with the Autumn Statement given by Chancellor George Osborne.
The rally is designed to oppose the government’s ongoing austerity measures and in particular to focus on cuts to working tax credits. Further anti-government protests are due to be held on 4 and 17 November in London in the form of student rallies which will denounce university tuition fees and restrictions on immigration and refugee numbers.
There is a high likelihood that the rallies will cause localised disruption, particularly in central London. There is also a potential for unrest during the rallies, as illustrated by the volatile scenes witnessed during October’s Conservative Party conference demonstrations.