Out on the march in Liverpool yesterday, I was impressed by the turnout. Lots of people of all ages from a wide range of unions – and, oddly, a few from firms of solicitors! It was all good humoured – the police were mob handed for some reason. Perhaps it was the six anarchists with the black and red flag they were worried about? Nothing to fear there – I saw one of them later in the afternoon doing his weekly shop in Tescos.
Leaving aside the flippant observations, there was something quaint about the march. The old chants I remember from the 1980s were being recycled. It almost felt as though ‘normal service’ had been restored after the confused and confusing years of New Labour. Now, at last, we know who the enemy is. But the speeches were recycled too. Some of them might easily have been made twenty-five years ago. ‘Defend our welfare state’ is the one phrase that really says nothing but expresses a faint longing for the past.
In short, while some felt a sense of solidarity on the march, being surrounded by like-minded people, I felt more and more alienated. While Cameron and Osborne might argue there is no alternative to their Plan A, it is apparent to me that there is no alternative in the trades unions or the wider left – witness the excruciating sight of Ed Balls and George Osborne on the Sunday morning TV programmes together.
I have probably overworked the Life on Mars parallels. Maybe I should start using Back to the Future?