Coaches full of marchers travelled from towns and cities across Britain to demonstrate against austerity.
People’s Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn said the Tories were not welcome in Manchester and vowed to make the country “ungovernable until they’re driven from office.”
Crowds gathered in the Castlefield Arena amphitheatre to hear a number of speeches, followed by a march to the city centre behind a banner which stated: “No more austerity. We demand an alternative. No more cuts.”
The Conservative Party is back in Manchester for its annual gathering after the last conference held in the city in 2015 was marked by a week of protests and demos.
The right-wing get together is being held as Prime Minister Theresa May faces rumours of a leadership challenge and a party divided over the EU along with a range of other issues — including having to back down on a number of manifesto pledges.
The People’s Assembly “Take Back Manchester” festival is counterposed to the Tory conference slogan “building a country that works for everyone.”
Mr Fairbairn said: “The protest shows the mass opposition to the failed politics of austerity.”
“The Tories have continued policies that have caused a housing crisis, mushrooming of zero-hours contracts, poverty pay and the privatisation of the NHS.”
The marchers were united around the slogans “health, homes, jobs and education” — which the People’s Assembly says should be able to be provided by the world’s fifth-richest economy.
Unison north-west regional secretary Kevan Nelson told those gathered that the impact of cuts and austerity meant that his union members — many of whom are public-sector workers — had each lost an average of £30,000 over the last 10 years.
Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths received loud cheers when he said that the protesters were “serving notice to Theresa May.”
The march turned Manchester into a sea of trade union and progressive movement banners.
Two forlorn English Defence League (EDL) members with a placard reading: “Jail all known jihadists” were given short thrift and were drowned out by chants of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn.”
Posters and banners reflected the breadth of opposition to the Tory government and its policies, including contingents from the anti-fracking movement, which is campaigning in the north-west where the government has overruled council decisions to refuse planning permission for destructive gas drilling.
The Take Back Manchester festival lasts until Wednesday — the full programme can be found at www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk