Britain’s biggest anti-cuts demonstration to date took place yesterday, when 20,000 marched and rallied in a Scottish-wide protest in Edinburgh. BBC News has also reported ‘several thousand’ demonstrating in Belfast, in a trade union-organised event.

Video by 01arthuc01

Called by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the Edinburgh demo throws the failures of the TUC General Council – who managed nothing more than a couple of thousand in Westminster Hall on the day before cuts were announced – into sharp relief. As Jeremy Dear (NUJ general secretary and a member of the General Council) said at Wednesday’s Downing Street rally, the TUC has failed its first great test.

The Edinburgh demo is significant beyond Scotland. It illustrates the potential that exists for mobilising large numbers against the cuts – not in some distant future but now. It’s a welcome counterblast to those who muse on the supposed British indifference to protest while our Gallic brothers and sisters rise up in popular revolt.

If the TUC and the big unions had operated in the same way across Britain as STUC did north of the border, or indeed as the union movement did in Northern Ireland, we could have had 50,000 or 100,000 on the streets of central London for a national demo yesterday. The TUC national demo on 26 March 2011 will be a landmark protest, but it is not soon enough.

Luna17 activist

Alex Snowdon

Alex Snowdon is a Counterfire activist in Newcastle. He is active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the National Education Union.​ He is the author of A Short Guide to Israeli Apartheid (2022).