I’ve never arrived to a demo so early that the road’s were still open.
We navigated perplexed taxi drivers as we swarmed into the London street and we steered the Protest Trolley into position. It slipped past the usual People’s Front of SWP, Socialist Party, Worker’s Liberty, Green Party and Others stalls peppering the route. We found a spot, stopped and prepared for the march.
This was another People’s Assembly march, the annual leftie outing for the country to descend upon the capital. I’m always slightly cynical about these marches, the route is generally closed off to the public for most of the way, it’s hardly reported in the news and has no threat to the politicians who are committed heinous crimes against the poorest in society across the UK. They’re probably having a day off in their second home. Their second homes with the skins of disabled people for curtains and fine wines infused with the blood of steel workers. Chateau de Sheffield.
But, it’s always important to feed into these marches. For your own sanity, it’s a reminder people across the country are feeling the same rage at this oppressive system.
This was the first march I’ve been on where we’ve provided the soundsystem. The night before, I’d spent all evening carefully calculating a playlist of punk, ska, hip-hop and reggae, only to have my Generic MP3 Device die on me before the march actually started. Drained of life, like the orphans Osborne keeps plugged into The Mechanism in his basement (read: dungeon). Suddenly it became a juggling job of switching between the phone of a marcher from Thirsk (mostly hip-hop) and my phone (a limited array of punk & ska). But wonderful things can happen when you’re limited, you get creative. Fight For Your Right To Party was suddenly the perfect crowd-pleaser, whilst the Star Wars Imperial March outside Forbidden Planet dedicated to the Evil Empire totally made sense. My only regret is I couldn’t play X-Ray Spex, as one woman has a patch on her bag, and it was painfully clear most songs we played were by men.
Playlists is something I’ve always loved creating, but that’s usually to make people entertained between band sets, not necessarily keep them angry on a 90 minute stomp round London! With help from people lending their phones and suggestions, I’d say we still managed to create a buzzing atmosphere from tracks as diverse as B.Dolan’s Which Side Are You On, The Skints, ONSIND, Operation Ivy, Captain Ska, Akala and Lowkey.
The highlight was playing Dear Mr Cameron by Richie Blitz outside Downing Street. Who’d have thought that when Richie brought out that song back in June 2011, 5 years later it would be a rallying call.
It was a privilege to march alongside trade Unionists, disabled people, young people, students and folks from across the UK. It’s empowering to stand (or rather sit) alongside Sisters Uncut and anarcha-feminist black blockers, to listen to the grievances of the National Barge Traveller’s Association. As much as their chant:
1-2-3-4 where are we supposed to moor?
5-6-7-8 how we going to navigate?
5-6-7-8 how we going to navigate?
Was amusing, one gentleman said to a Police officer “I’ve had my lifestyle outlawed three times” it shows the diversity of targets the Tories abuse. There is only one way of life: Theirs. Rich, greedy and stinking of a Born To Rule hierarchy so out-dated the calendar needs to be tossed out.
Currently myself and director Natalie Quatermass are making a new show about punk, politics, protest and dinosaurs. It’s about how music, specially raw DIY music, matters and inspires. It’s called Whatever Happened To Vandal Raptor and ready for touring in 2017
Normally, people chant a bit, but without and audience, it becomes a bit of a trudge. With a soundsystem, we could create some energy and life in the centre of London and the march. We got people bouncing, singing and dancing. That seems a great gift, so thanks to Graham from York People’s Assembly for providing the Protest Trolley and asking me to help put some tunes together.
Without music, the revolution is just trudging.