Tuesday, March 29, 2011

London erupts as 400,000 protest spending cuts

LONDON: Hundreds of thousands of people protested against the UK government's cuts in public spending in one of the biggest demonstrations in the capital since the rally against the war in Iraq in 2003.

Around 400,000 activists and campaigners descended on London on Saturday – far outstripping the 100,000 anticipated by organisers the Trade Union Congress (TUC). The centre of the capital was brought to a halt by swarms of protesters. Spin-off groups staged a sit-in on Shaftesbury Avenue and violence erupted on Oxford Street in central London. The TUC said the number of people participating in the march to London's Hyde Park had well exceeded their expectations.

There were fear that scores of violent anti-capitalist demonstrators could hijack the demonstration and cause chaos in London's West End. A breakaway group threw paint at shops on Oxford Street and released flares as Labour leader Ed Miliband spoke to protesters in Hyde Park. Miliband defied calls to stay away in case the protest became anarchic and use the occasion to argue that his party offered an 'alternative'.

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