50,000 march in London


50,000 march in London

By Catherine Brown

LONDON — Around Hyde Park on October 21, the many dozens of coaches lining the streets were an indication of the distances many protesters against the pit closures had travelled to be there. Others arrived in hired trains — in all, more than 50,000.

The government's partial retreat, only two days earlier, had failed to convince most people that the closures of even 10 pits was justified. The demonstrators' anger at the proposed wiping out of an industry hundreds of years old was reflected in chants such as "Sack the Tories, not the miners" and "Coal not dole.".

Arthur Scargill, president of the NUM, addressed the crowd before leading 1000 of the marchers to the square outside parliament. The NUM had agreed, because of the size of the rally, that the rest of the march would weave its way through the streets of London and back to Hyde Park.

Not only were there miners and their families, students and workers from many other unions, but some seemed dressed for business meetings. As Scargill commented, the government's brutal proposals had sparked a response "from people of all walks of life".

Even exclusive antique shops in trendy Knightsbridge had signs in their windows supporting the miners. The three-hour march, which stretched for over five kilometres, was met around each corner by cheering bystanders, while workers leant from office windows to wave their support.