OVER 100,000 people representing the “real northern powerhouse” descended onto Manchester yesterday to drive the Tories “out of town.”
Coachloads of people were bussed in from across Britain to stage a huge protest against the Conservatives at their annual conference — held in the city despite there being no Tory constituencies in Manchester.
The number of people totalled 100,000 at the beginning of the protest, but TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told the jubilant crowd that the “number is fast growing.”
“A message to David Cameron and George Osborne, this is the real northern powerhouse,” she added.
Protesters including trade unions, Labour Party members, Green Party supporters, anti-Trident and anti-TTIP campaigners walked through the city with banners while chanting: “Get the Tories out.”
The march passed the Ark Shelter in the city centre where homeless people, now living in tents because following the housing crisis they established a community under a concrete motorway flyover.
The winding march was peppered with protesters wearing pig head masks and holding placards criticising the Tory government’s onslaught on welfare, disability benefits, the NHS, education and public-sector workers.
A huge rally in the Castlefield area was held with speakers including organisers the People’s Assembly, Morning Star campaigns manager Steve Sweeney, journalist Owen Jones, singer Charlotte Church and anti-arms group CND general secretary Kate Hudson.
People’s Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn said: “Today is just the beginning. We will be here every day that the Tories are here in Manchester to give them the opposition that they deserve.”
Tireless campaigner Ms Church slammed the Conservative Party for “waging class war.”
She reeled off anti-democratic attacks on working and vulnerable people such as abolishing free school meals and the anti-strike Trade Union Bill.
CND general secretary Kate Hudson praised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to pull the nuclear missiles trigger and his pledge during Labour’s leadership election to scrap Trident.
A group of around 15 junior doctors also took to the stage to speak out against the government’s plans to cut their wages by 30 per cent and get rid of their overtime pay.
Rory, a hospital doctor from Manchester who said he will vote for industrial action, said that the NHS “is at breaking point already.”
Kelly, a doctor of psychiatry also from the city, told the crowd that patients were being sent up to 300 miles away from home for beds in private clinics.
One young demonstrator staged his own protest sitting by the roadside. The boy was dressed as a Victorian chimney sweep’s assistant, his face smeared with grime and wearing a large flat cap.
He carried a sign with the words “Northern Poorhouse” — taking a swipe at Mr Osborne’s much-vaunted northern powerhouse rhetoric.