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Moment that mattered: The March for the Alternative

Protestors cross Waterloo Bridge to join the TUC March For The Alternative in London to protest against Government spending cuts.

“I was glad to see the March for the Alternative happen, although I didn’t think it would change anything. Marches never do. You should take part in them full-heartedly while secretly realising they won’t make any difference. It would be foolish to say I’m opposed to all cuts. I’m sure somewhere hidden away there are cuts that are necessary, but there’s no doubt about the enormous amount of social damage that the current government is setting out to wreak on our society.

There is an alternative that is simple but the Labour Party dare not make the case for it. It depends on raising taxes. We’ve got to have higher taxes for richer people. I’m rich by most people’s standards and I don’t pay enough money in tax. I would be delighted to pay more, as long as other people in my position, and many richer people, paid their fair share. Labour lacks the political courage to make this case. They’ve got to stand up to the shrieking and screaming of the Murdoch press and the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, who would come down furiously on any government who tried to do so.

I do think it’s short-sighted for a government to cut arts and culture funding. The arts have always needed money put into them from the outside. I’ll be accused of exaggerating and be told that they can earn their own way. They can’t. You can guarantee a full theatre with a pantomime and if you want to fill a concert hall you put on a programme of recycled pop or old orchestral favourites, but it’s death really to go on recycling the same old things. If they’re going to live and flourish they’ve got to have the chance to do the new stuff and that means, inevitably, that they’ve got to be subsidised.

Is there any merit to this new Big Society? It’s a very slippery one to grasp, because one never knows what Cameron means by the Big Society. It seems to mean replacing as many things as possible that people are paid for with things that people do for nothing, by volunteering. Again, I’m very sceptical about this making any difference. I’m cynical because it’s another way for the Tories to show their contempt for the publicly funded good things that we’ve got and their desire to return us to a situation where everything has to be privately run. You can see the flaws in market fundamentalism straight away if you look at it. But people are caught up in the excitement and the possibility of making money and the sheer sexiness of conviction – if you’re convinced of something it is a more sexy feeling than if you’re not convinced about it or you’re more half-hearted about it. And people are very susceptible to this excitement of blazing certainty. You see it in fundamentalists of any sort. It’s a very exciting feeling but a dangerous one.

It was so convenient for the right-wing press that there was trouble on the day of the march. I wouldn’t put it past some of these right-wing buggers to do a little provocation of their own. I don’t really think that the Conservative Party would join with anarchists and start smashing stuff up. But still…”

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