meet the londoners taking to the streets to protest david cameron
'If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people.'
Undeterred by Britain's notorious April showers, 150,000 people took to the streets in London this past weekend as part of a People's Assembly demonstration to protest against the Conservative government's program of austerity, with many also calling for the Prime Minister to resign after the Panama Papers scandal forced him to admit that he had benefitted from offshore funds held in known tax havens.
Marching from Gower Street to Trafalgar square, protesters' homemade signs denounced cuts to public services, Jeremy Hunt's attempt to force Junior Doctors into what they say is an unsafe and unfair employment contract, the forced academization of schools, the slashing of student nurse bursaries, the government's failure to help the British steel industry, the threat of TTIP (which would allow US companies to sue governments over laws that might lower profits) and a variety of other issues.
At the end of the march route in Trafalgar Square, crowds were addressed by Yannis Gourtsoyannis, a junior doctor who said that the Government is "intent on ripping apart the social fabric of this country," a student nurse, a steelworker, union representatives, Green party leader Natalie Bennett, and Shadow Chancellor John Mcdonnell, who promised that a Labour government would end austerity. Mcdonnell introduced a video from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was campaigning in Liverpool. "The austerity we're in, at the moment, in Britain, is a political choice, not an economic necessity," Corbyn says in the video, adding that, "that political choice means the poorest in our society are paying the most." i-D went to the march on Saturday to speak to protesters and find out why they had taken to the streets.
What you do? Student Mental Health Nurse.
Where have you travelled from today? East London.
Do you have any money in offshore tax havens? I don't. Personally it's not something I would do. I was discussing it the other day because you can go around the world with nursing. Somebody said, 'oh, you can go to Saudi Arabia and you don't have to pay tax there.' And I thought, 'do I really want to live in a place where I'm not giving something back to society?' I don't mind taxes, I think it's a good thing. I think it should be fair though, and everyone should be paying them.
Why are you protesting? I think it's important everyone comes together with bringing the demands of healthcare, homes, jobs, and education. I'm here particularly as a student nurse because in the fall budget, George Osbourne said that they would remove the bursary for NHS students. The bursary is not a lot but it's what supports us while we are training. Half of our learning is actually out on placements -- in hospitals and in the community -- so we can't really work on top of that. Now they want to take that away and replace it with a loan. That would be mean students of the NHS were paying to work, which I'm sure is illegal. This will fuck up the future of the NHS workforce, essentially, because people won't come and train -- not if they're going to finish with £50,000 ($71,000) worth of debt.
What would you like to say to David Cameron? I'd say to him just be honest about what you're doing and what this is all really about. Because we're told we're all in this together in this austerity, that it's necessary. But be honest about why you're doing this -- you just want to help your friends get richer.
What you do? History of Art student, York University.
Do you have any money in offshore tax havens? I don't actually, no!
Why are you protesting? Mainly against the new education system that the government wants to bring in, and how they want to make so many schools academies or privatized. It makes me feel sad -- a good free education is so important. It's made me the person I am, going to the schools that I went to -- so this makes me heartbroken. I am angry obviously, but mainly I'm sad.
What would you like to say to David Cameron? You have children yourself, and you know you're in a lucky position -- but try to put yourself in the shoes of people that don't have the opportunities you have or the money you have. Actually try to think about how it would be if you were them. Just look in the mirror, basically!
What you do? Graphic Design Student, Kensington and Chelsea College.
Where have you travelled from today? Camden.
Why are you protesting? Just against the 1% having control. And I'm protesting everything to do with taxes, disabled rights, social housing… literally everything. I live in a homeless shelter at the moment, so I'm especially here for how the government are cutting housing benefits and even trying to stop housing benefits for under 21s altogether.
What would you like to say to David Cameron? I'd feel like telling him to fuck off, really.
What you do? I'm a musician.
Where have you travelled from today? Leytonstone.
Do you have any money in offshore tax havens? Fuck no. I wish, Jesus! I don't even have 50p -- I'm skint. I've got to get to work for 8pm, so I have enough to get there until my next pay check tomorrow.
Why are you protesting? Anti-austerity. My main goal is for everybody eventually not to work. That's the dream. We haven't left the slave industry, we've just covered our eyes a bit. We're still working from 9 to 5 every day. And it takes you an hour to get home -- so you get home at 6 o'clock, then you have three hours for actual living, free, not working -- just to make sure you sleep and wake up again: the same every fucking day of your life. I mean, that is slavery, it's not ok.
What would you like to say to David Cameron? Assassination. In fact, I don't know why people haven't done that already. I mean: I'm struggling, I'm literally dragging my back legs on the floor -- there's no point living like that if there's not going to be some kind of improvement for all of us. At the end of the day, our fathers, our mothers -- we've built the fucking building that these people work in. You know: we're the people that are skilled, we actually make the environment that we're around. So we need a little bit more praise.
What you do? Circus performer and full time circus student.
Where have you travelled from today? Bristol.
Do you have any money in offshore tax havens? No, but I would like anybody who does just to donate me two pounds so I can get a lottery ticket and maybe change my luck!
Why are you protesting? Abu Sakha is a circus performer who has been detained, which means he hasn't been charged with a crime. He's a circus performer who travels around the world donating his time to children and people who are in crisis. So the fact that he's been detained just tells me that could be me or any of my other friends who are doing the job that we do. And it's my first ever protest! I've never protested because I believe that everybody should live and let live, but this in particular -- what's going on -- I just feel that I have to stand up.
What would you like to say to David Cameron? I'd like to say that if it wasn't for my Circomedia (a school for contemporary circus and physical theatre based in Bristol) pals helping and supporting me to get here, I wouldn't be here thanks to my care package being cut. So I thank him not very much. The government cuts are crippling, and if I didn't have my support network I'd be at home, not being able to have a free voice.
What you do? I'm a dance teacher and an artist.
Where have you travelled from today? Bromley.
Do you have any money in offshore tax havens? Yeah, I have lots of money in them (laughs).
Why are you protesting? Because we're going through some really hard times and it's time for a change. We need a brighter future. We need to speak out! It's time to help each other, to share everything and to be equal. And to make the richest understand that they need to share everything.
What would you like to say to David Cameron? Go away -- these are not his times anymore. He's too old. We need someone new, we need changes.
Luke Tanner and Rori
What you do? I work in dementia care.
Where have you travelled from today? Hackney.
Do you have any money in offshore tax havens? No. Rori does though -- we set up a little trust fund in the Caribbean for her. I'm joking.
Why are you protesting? I was actually starting to think about what kind of Britain it would be for Rori. When she's 35, how many hours a week would she have to work to get by? I wonder if she'd have to retire at 80? Would she have a health service? What kind of education will she have? That's why I brought both of us out today. It's about the rising inequality in this country. It's just getting worse isn't it? I've been inspired by Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn recently, and I thought: 'I've got to do something.'
What would you like to say to David Cameron? The thing that I'm most excited about is to look the universal basic income. I think that could go beyond partisan left wing and right wing politics. It's something that could provide basic security and freedom for everyone. And we've got the wealth to do it in this country so it's not such a crazy idea.
What you do? I'm self-employed and semi-retired, I spend a lot of time going on demonstrations these days.
Where have you travelled from today? Near Wimbledon.
Do you have any money in offshore tax havens? No, I don't actually!
Why are you protesting? Well I'm here to get more fairness in the world generally. I want to try to get priorities away from military spending to actually being spent on useful stuff.
What would you like to say to David Cameron? I think climate and environmental issues are important. One thing about economic growth is that actually it uses up a lot of the environment's resources in the end. I'd talk to him about how he could be less extravagant with resources.
What you do? I'm a film and philosophy student.
Where have you travelled from today? Wolverhampton.
Do you have any money in offshore tax havens? No, I don't actually -- surprisingly.
Why are you protesting? Because David Cameron avoided tax. He should be in prison.
What would you like to say to David Cameron? I'd tell him to resign. And I'd probably call him a twat.
What you do? I'm a studying to be a social worker at the University of Birmingham.
Where have you travelled from today? Northampton.
Do you have any money in offshore tax havens? Unfortunately not (laughing). I think I have better principles -- if I had any money it would not be there.
Why are you protesting? I think that we're just a bit sick of what's going on in the government -- they're saying we're all in it together; we're obviously not. With the Panama Papers coming out as well, I just think it shows how corrupt it is and I think so many people are sick of it. I think if people had known what they were letting themselves in for, then they would not have voted the Tories in. It was hidden, and the way that it's been presented in the media as if everyone's wanting this and this -- people don't want this, people don't know what's happening -- they're covering it up.
What would you like to say to David Cameron? That you are a scumbag. And that I have absolutely no respect for you. I don't know how you got into the position you are in, and I hope that we never see anything like him again -- but I know that we will.
Tell me about your sign and your t-shirt? My t-shirt is from the band Los Campesinos -- they've got a song that has the line, "Never Kiss a Tory boy, without wanting to cut off your tongue again." So I bought that and then pretty much immediately afterwards, all of this came out about Cameron sucking off a pig. So perfect! Twitter went off which was gorgeous, and it's highly relevant now. And my sign is a Tony Benn quote, "If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people."
Introduction Charlotte Gush
Photography and interviews Holly Falconer