All you need to know about Saturday’s anti-cuts march
March for the Alternative: The First Post guide to when, where and why
Between 100,000 and 250,000 people are expected to converge on central London on March 26, as the capital prepares itself for the biggest demonstration since the 2003 anti-Iraq war protest.
Around 800 coaches and nine trains have been chartered to bring people from around the country to protest against the coalition government’s spending cuts. There will be 4,500 police officers on duty.
But who is supporting the day of protest - and what are the protesters asking for? The First Post gives you all the information you need to decide where you stand on the march of the decade.
WHAT IS THE MAIN EVENT?The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has organised the 'March for the Alternative', a reference to the coalition's insistence that there is no alternative to the proposed budget cuts.
The TUC march will begin at Blackfriars Bridge at 12 noon and finish with a rally at Hyde Park starting at approx 1.30pm. For further details, see How do I join?
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber says: "Saturday looks set to be a huge, united and good-natured event, giving all those who want to oppose the government's deep, rapid and unfair spending cuts the opportunity to speak out.
However, the day has been branded a "carnival of civil disobedience" by some activists, who have derided the TUC march for being ineffective.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVE EVENTS?Student activists who organised last year’s tuition fee demos want to turn Trafalgar Square into an English Tahrir Square in an attempt to mimic Egypt's recent uprising. They will operate a 24-hour sit-in on the day, backed by Labour MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. The students have also hinted they might seek to occupy some of the capital's "great buildings".
UK Uncut, the group that campaigns against corporate tax evasion, is planning to swamp scores of shops on Oxford Street to temporarily force their closure.
An organisation called Resist 26, marching under the banner of 'Battle for Britain', is calling for people to "take over, strike, occupy, release all hell" at 2.11pm. They have organised after-parties at five locations across London: Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, Buckingham Palace, and the Hilton Hotel at Hyde Park.
WHO WILL BE PARTICIPATING?The march and rally looks set to unite hundreds of different organisations and groups of people behind a common aim. The big trade unions and their leaders will all be present, including RMT boss Bob Crow, Unite general secretary Ken McCluskey, and Unison leader Dave Prentis.
Labour party leader Ed Miliband will also be in attendance, along with numerous Labour front and back benchers. This is considered a politically risky move for 'Red Ed', who has worked to distance himself from the unions since winning the Labour leadership contest due largely to their support.
Some off-duty police officers are expected to join the march – meaning they will be policed by their colleagues as they protest against planned cuts of 20 per cent to police budgets.
WHAT DO THE PROTESTERS WANT?The aim of the event is to insist to the government that there /is/ an alternative to the proposed cuts, which protesters maintain are too much, too fast. Unite, the largest union in Britain, has discovered in a recent survey of 140,000 people that many are "surviving, not living". The poll showed people were worried about their "diminishing ability to simply make ends meet".
Most people want bankers and others working in the financial sector - whom they hold responsible for the current recession - to pay their share. They are asking for the introduction of the Robin Hood tax, an initiative designed to generate billions of pounds by siphoning off a small percentage of the sector's earnings.
Finally, they want to provide a voice for those in Britain who disagree with austerity measures that they did not vote for in the last general election
WILL THE EVENT BE SAFE?One of the biggest questions surrounding the event is how police will deal with protesters in the likely case that a disturbance breaks out.
Following the opprobrium the Metropolitan Police received FOR its handling of the winter's student protests, where people complained of kettling and excessive force, the Met is keen to prevent a repeat.
They have been preparing for months in cooperation with the TUC, and have allowed human rights group Liberty to sit in on meetings. Liberty will also have 100 legal observers lining the route, and be allowed access to the police control room on the day.
Met commander Bob Broadhurst warns that "issues will be with the fracture groups who might want to spoil the party".
To the disappointment of human rights groups, kettling has not been specifically discussed. "We might end up in some form of containment," said Broadhurst. "We would hope we can keep that for as few people as possible and for as little time as possible."
Police have urged businesses to be alert on the day, clear loose equipment or debris that could be used as weapons from the outside of buildings on the route, and make security personnel extra visible.
HOW DO YOU JOIN IN?The march will leaves the north end of Blackfriars Bridge between 12pm and 2pm. It will go along the Victoria Embankment, past the Houses of Parliament, and then into Hyde Park. Speeches will beging at around 1.30pm and the rally will continue until about 4.30pm. You can see an official map of the march here.
March for the Alternative encourages Londoners to join the back-end of the march in order to allow those coming from further away to leave on time. They also advise everyone to bring plenty of water and food, wear suitable clothes, and to plan their routes ahead.
Follow @march26march for up-to-date information on the day. ·