Al Jazeera

‘We have a clear enemy’: Thousands march against Tory austerity plans

London, United Kingdom – Activists and trade union leaders have called for a general strike and a mass campaign of civil disobedience to bring down the country’s new right-wing government as hundreds of thousands took to the streets of London and other cities to protest against austerity and public service cuts.

Organisers said a quarter of a million people had joined Saturday’s march from the Bank of England to the Houses of Parliament, with smaller protests also taking place in Glasgow, Liverpool, and Bristol, and pledged the event was only a beginning.

“We’ve got to get rid of this government quicker than five years. This government cannot last the full term,” Sam Fairbairn, national secretary of the People’s Assembly, the anti-austerity campaign group that organised the march, told a rally in Parliament Square.

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Al Jazeera

Police blockade Magna Carta-inspired ‘festival for democracy’

London, United Kingdom – Police have attempted to shut down a “festival for democracy” at an eco-village overlooking a site where dignitaries including the Queen gather on Monday for official events to commemorate the 800th¬†anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.

The festival was planned by the residents of Runnymede Eco-Village, a community established three years ago in an area of neglected forest on the edge of London within a few hundred metres of the spot where the celebrated document – considered by many a symbol of civil liberties and the principle of equality under law – was signed in 1215.

Organisers and participants said the event, which included talks by academics and political activists as well as music and workshops, was a necessary alternative to the official programme that included a river pageant along the Thames, and the erection of a four-metre bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s hereditary head of state.

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Al Jazeera

Protests, anger and ‘constitutional crisis’: UK facing ‘rocky ride’ as Tories claim power

London, United Kingdom – Democracy campaigners and victims and opponents of austerity policies are planning a wave of protest, occupations and direct action amid widespread anger at the return to power of the country’s right-wing Conservative Party and warnings the UK is on its “last legs”.

Occupy activists pose with a proposed republican English flag [Simon Hooper]

Occupy activists pose in front of the Houses of Parliament with a proposed republican English flag [Simon Hooper]

The Conservatives, led by David Cameron, the prime minister since 2010, claimed an unexpected victory in national elections earlier in the month by winning a small parliamentary majority despite gaining the support of less than a quarter of eligible voters, and just 37 percent of votes actually cast.

That result triggered immediate anger on the streets with police clashing with protesters who converged on Downing Street, the prime minister’s London residence, carrying signs reading “I pledge to resist!” and “Stop the cuts!”; a reference to the Conservatives’ unpopular neoliberal austerity policies.

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Al Jazeera

Campaigners call for ‘real democracy’ ahead of UK vote

London, United Kingdom – Activists in the UK are braving a draconian crackdown on public protest to stage a “festival of democracy” outside the Houses of Parliament in London, demanding “system change not regime change” amid predictions that Thursday’s general election could pitch the country into political chaos.

Occupy Democracy campaigners gather in Parliament Square [Simon Hooper]

Occupy Democracy campaigners gather in Parliament Square [Simon Hooper]

“Occupy Democracy” campaigners have been gathering since May 1 in Parliament Square, a grass-covered traffic island populated by tourists and statues, to call for political reforms including restrictions on corporate influence and a “citizen-led constitutional convention for real democracy”.

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