LONDON, Oct 20: Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of London and other British cities on Saturday in protest against government spending cuts, with union leaders expected to call for a general strike.
Marchers carried signs reading “No cuts” and “Cameron has butchered Britain,” condemning the austerity measures introduced by Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government in a bid to reduce Britain’s huge deficit.
“This is not a crisis that is going to sort itself out through cuts,”19-year-old protester Jonathan told AFP.
“We’ve had a double-dip recession now, and we are here today to show we are not going to stand it any longer.”
Britain climbed out of a deep economic downturn in late 2009 but fell back into recession at the end of 2011.
Protesters paused to boo at Cameron’s Downing Street residence, and shouted “Pay your taxes!” at a Starbucks coffee shop.
Starbucks was embroiled in a row this week after it was reported that the US giant paid just #8.6 million ($13.8 million, 10.6 million euros) in British corporation tax over 14 years.
At a huge rally in Hyde Park at the end of the march, opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked Cameron for “cutting too far and too fast”.
“He clings to an economic plan that isn’t working,” Miliband told protesters. “Self-defeating austerity is not the answer.”
But Miliband was booed by the crowd when he said that any government in power at the moment would have to make some spending cuts.
“There will still be hard choices,” he said. “I do not promise easy times.”
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress umbrella body, said the cuts were “hammering the poorest and the most vulnerable”.—AFP