Why I didn’t march


How they do it elsewhere

Before I start this piece I should make something clear:

This blog does not have a collective position on anything and the following piece reflects just one persons view (i.e. mine).

This past week saw a twitter hash tag circulating in advance of Saturday’s anti-cuts march. The hash tag was something like #whyiammarching and was chock full of ordinary public sector workers expressing why they would be giving up their Saturday to march through the streets of London.

Anyone who read those tweets could not fail to sense the sincerity of those who protested this weekend. These weren’t rabble rousers or people simply out to protect their own interests. On the contrary these were, and still are, committed public servants out to protect the services, and service users, they care about.

A typical tweet read:

  • AIR is marching because art education is a right not a privilege
  • Because I believe in healthcare, education and employment for all
  • Gratitude: In my 20’s homeless and adrift. I remember it now, homed, grounded, psychotherapist. Helped to this place
  • Have already seen clients who will have significant rent shortfalls due to housing benefit cuts which may result in eviction

And rather less sympathetically:

  • The cuts are wrong and will hit the vulnerable and leave the rich to do what the f**k they want

It is hard to read these without feeling a twinge of guilt about not going. The following tweet emphasises that point:

  • Because moaning isn’t good enough

This blog has done its fair share of moaning (although on reading back through it not that much about the cuts) so why did I decide to stay at home?

There are some reasons I can discount:

1)      I’m not a Tory (or one of the few Lib Dems who agrees with coalition policies)

2)      I’m not a public sector hater. I care passionately about the public sector and the people who receive the services we provide

3)      I didn’t have transport problems; the union had coaches going from the town centre

So why didn’t I go and show solidarity with my fellow public sector workers?

If I’m honest, the reason I didn’t march was because I just couldn’t make up my mind about it; I was totally conflicted.

On the one hand I know that the cuts need to be made (I don’t know much about economics but I can understand the concept of the deficit). I also know that local government has grown over recent years and could do with a financial correction and a lot of reform. And I know that in reality the decisions about the cuts are made at the local level and that I would be more effective marching against my local council (although ironically it has been quite responsible so far).

On the other hand, I think the cuts are being made too fast and that local authorities have been backed into a corner. I also know that the Government has acted appallingly in the way it has worked with local government and that Eric Pickles has been way too aggressive.

But despite all this I can’t help feeling that I don’t have an overarching reason to march. Cuts need to be made and local government needs reform. This leaves my disagreements with the Government being about the tone of the debate, the speed of the cuts and the focus of grants. None of them provide me with a clear idea of why I would be marching. I’d be a woman on a march firmly without an alternative. (I don’t buy that tax avoidance would close the gap… It’s been tried sooo many times before).

Somehow, turning up on a march with a rationale of: ‘I don’t like the way Eric Pickles talks about local government and I’d like to see the cuts spread evenly over 4 years and more space given for reform’ just doesn’t sound convincing enough.

Ironically enough, the issue that got me closest to marching was the ‘reform’ of the NHS but then my reason for marching would just be properly confused right?

As I write this I can hear the howls of protest echoing around blog land (and even some echoing around my own head)… Feel free to jot them below.

Oh, and Eric Pickles is still wrong.

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14 Comments on “Why I didn’t march”


  1. [...] We Love Local Government rightly says, cuts need to be made and local government does need to reform. But like the majority of [...]

  2. thelocalgovernmentofficer Says:

    “On the one hand I know that the cuts need to be made (I don’t know much about economics but I can understand the concept of the deficit).”

    OK. Now consider the concept of the multiplier.

    “I also know that local government has grown over recent years and could do with a financial correction and a lot of reform.”

    Though of course if our central funding had grown at the same rate as that of the NHS, we would be posting out cheques, not Council Tax demands – there’s something odd going on here, it doesn’t look to most citizens as though local government has grown, so where’s the money gone? Not on pay inflation, particularly (again, focused in the NHS).

    I think the acute costs of the most intense service users in old people’s care and younger disabled people (and the hiving off of a lot of money direct to schools) must be the biggest culprits here.

    “And I know that in reality the decisions about the cuts are made at the local level and that I would be more effective marching against my local council”

    I don’t think that’s true at all. With central grants cut, and Council Tax frozen, local government surely only has discretion over which cuts to make, not their total quantity.

  3. Performance Officer Says:

    Good blog, and for the record, I pretty much agree with what you say. Not completely, that would be really bizarre, but with the main thrust.

    Being pro-reform, generally seeing the cuts argument in the whole (if not the detail), but still being passionate about public services and servants is a pretty unpopular stance it feels. Nice to know I’m not alone!

  4. Andrew H Says:

    “I don’t like the way Eric Pickles talks about local government and I’d like to see the cuts spread evenly over 4 years and more space given for reform” about sums up why I was there on Saturday. Plus I think more could be done to raise revenue. I did dither a lot about going, but in the end decided it was all I could do to show I dislike what is happening. The next election is some way off (and given the make up of where I live whatever the voting system my MP will be Tory). I could write to the Government -but who will listen. So giving up my Saturday to go to London seemed the only legal option. And in the future when I am asked “What did you do in the great cuts war Daddy?” at the very least I can say “I was there that day”.

  5. DemoCrassy Says:

    I didn’t march because I am in a politically restricted job and didn’t want to get caught on the telly. But I would have done otherwise and not just because of the impact on our jobs of cuts to public services. I would have marched for the recipients of those services who will struggle to cope as a consequence. And while I was about it, I would have marched for the people who don’t have jobs whose benefits are being cut, who may lose their homes and who will need the very services that are being cut even more. In the private sector, people lose jobs because the demand for their services has gone. Why are we losing our jobs when the demand for our services is about to increase?


  6. Thanks for all your comments… Some really good arguments. The point about:
    “acute costs of the most intense service users in old people’s care and younger disabled people (and the hiving off of a lot of money direct to schools) must be the biggest culprits here”
    is especially well made.

    Thanks all…

  7. Lynn Says:

    When you cannot get free healthcare in years to come, remember you didn’t march. When you can’t get your children into a local school without paying £5k a term, remember you didn’t march. When you cannot find a care home for your elderly parents for less than £2k a week, remember you didn’t march. When you’re children cannot go to university without you remortgaging your house, remember you didn’t march. When everything in this country is privatised, remember you didn’t march.

    This was not just about local gvt cuts, this was not just about any cuts. This was about saying no to the ideology of this gvt… to privatise everything they possibly can. To line the rich pockets of businesses and bankers an the millionaires in the Cabinet more.

    I am politically restricted too, but I marched. Let them try and stop me. I was not advocating voting for any political party. I didn’t wave an anti-ConDem or a vote Labour flag. I was saying that any that propose cuts this fast and this hard, and that this ideology is wrong.


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