Why I didn’t march
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.