What I saw of the great rally in Trafalgar Square and the demonstration that moved off towards Piccadilly did, up to a point, remind me of the great Countryside march. It was well organized with a great many stewards supplementing the police, good humoured with people who had brought their children and the police, at that stage, quite relaxed. There was also the small counter-demo to whom I chatted and whose picture I took (see above).
Even at that stage there were differences. There were far more police out and they were lined up in close ranks. At the Countryside march they stood around with big smiles on their faces and were ready to chat. Nor were several of the National Gallery entrances closed for fear of violence.
Later on, I watched the police off Regent Street putting on their riot gear and realized that the peaceful atmosphere may well have been dissipated. Later still, I went past some seriously vandalized bank machines in Charing Cross Road. It is unlikely that the vandals managed to get any money out - that not being such an easy process. What they succeeded in doing is making life extremely difficult for people out in Central London for Saturday night. Oddly enough, there are very few bank machines around Charing Cross Road, Covent Garden and Chinatown.
In other words, despite the TUC and other union control, several hundred demonstrators, who came in order to cause trouble, did just that, smashing shops, banks and occupying Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly, a store that is owned by Whittington Investments Limited that is, in turn, owned largely by the Garfield Weston Foundation, one of the largest charitable foundations in the world or, in other words, an organization that actively helps people through various targeted charitable donations. But that is not what UK Uncut is interested in. All has to go through taxes because otherwise there will be no employment for that section of Middle Britain that turned out in central London today.
The organizers of a demonstration are responsible for its conduct. It is true that the groups that came to cause trouble could not be controlled but I still think that those who suffered should send their bills to the TUC, Unison and the other unions. Let them collect the money from UK Uncut and whoever else there is in those groups, docking the welfare payment at source, if necessary.
Oh yes, there was another difference between this demo and the Countryside march. There were many slogans in both but the overwhelming message of the Countryside march was simple: Liberty and Livelihood. The word liberty did not feature on any of the posters today.