WHEN it was revealed that the Conservatives were to hold their annual party conference in central Manchester this weekend, left wingers across the UK’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ practically choked on their chips and gravy. As a result, over 60,000 men, women and children flocked to march throughout the city this afternoon (October 4) in order to create a clear message of anti-austerity.
Luckily, the vivid autumn morning proved a more than fitting backdrop to the long-awaited sense of optimism fuelled by Jeremy Corbyn’s fresh leadership. Amongst the throng of a boisterous crowd, a brisk walk from Oxford Road station led to nothing less than a socialist’s haven: with more live music, banners, and active petitions than you can shake a bacon sandwich at. This, one of Manchester’s largest political demonstrations of the year, was to be my first taste of activism.
Despite my nerves and (annoyingly) small stature, I was instantly made to feel at home by all those around me, as that familiar sense of liberal passion and hospitality seemed to instil itself in every corner of the crowd. Contrary to various newspaper reports, political violence was practically non-existent; surrounded by families, senior activists and students like myself, it appeared that this was the epitome of a strong yet tranquil protest.
As the rolling march paused to gather around a modest stage, riling speeches about the damning Trade Union bill and the recent industrial crisis in the North East confirmed a moving sense of solidarity and compassion, culminated in an electrifying performance of ‘There is Power In The Union’ by Billy Bragg himself. He continued to sing encouragingly, whilst thousands of people proceeded to filter into the roads ahead.
Of course, it wasn’t all passionate comradery and emotive protest songs. Pork products and biting chants were bountiful, whilst one particularly vocal member of the Conservative party received a swift egg to the face for jeering at the crowds. Yet, despite any political bitterness (or jokes at the Prime Minister’s expense), the most prominent feature of this monumental event was the inescapable air of selflessness. Circling the streets well into dusk, each member of the crowd continued to chant in proud support for all those in need, including families affected by the recent migrant crisis- declaring the city of Manchester open to desperate refugees.
As the politically-fuelled weekend draws to a close, a revolutionary spark continues to burn. I have no doubt that in the coming weeks, streets throughout the north will continue to be awash with all those who continue to diligently seek social change.
By: Emily Ingram