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Swindon protesters rally in bid to stop Government's cuts
“HANDS off our NHS” was activists’ rallying cry against the Government’s austerity measures at a peaceful demonstration in the town centre.
Protesters from Swindon People’s Assembly gathered near the Brunel Centre on Saturday to publicly oppose what they described as the coalition’s never-ending budget cuts and renewed attacks on the country’s most vulnerable people and institutions.
The group, a local branch of a nationwide anti-austerity movement, invited passers-by to sign a giant Christmas card addressed to the Prime Minister and list the negative impact drastic economic policies had had on their lives since the beginning of the recession.
The large greetings card will soon be presented to David Cameron at Number 10.
Kate Linnegar, of Rodbourne, was among those singing revisited Christmas carols with an anti-austerity twist and waving placards warning ministers to keep their hands off the NHS and put an end to budget cuts.
“The poorest have been penalised for the errors made by bankers and politicians,” said the 52-year-old.
“We are here to defend the welfare state, the NHS and education; the safety net that was put in place to protect people and that this Government is taking away little by little.
“We are asking people to explain to David Cameron why they can’t afford Christmas – because of the cost of living, and utilities, which have gone sky-high, but wages are staying the same.”
Another activist, Karl North, of Rodbourne, condemned the coalition for creating what he saw as an even wider gap between the wealthy and the nation’s struggling millions.
“Austerity is not needed; there is nothing to be gained from it,” said the 43-year-old.
“We need to invest in proper jobs and infrastructure.
“About one million people are on zero-hour contracts. This is slave labour in the 21st century. We are going back to the Victorian era.
“There is an alternative to austerity, we want people to know there is hope. But we can’t achieve anything if we do nothing.”
Although highly critical of the Government, campaigners maintained the rally was not politically motivated.
Between joining carollers belting out The 12 Cuts Of Christmas and Hark! The Evil Bankers’ Sin, Livio Pavone, 56, of West Swindon, explained his reasons for taking to the streets to oppose the economic policies.
“You can see in Greece what cuts have done,” he said. “It has affected the structure of society.
“We want the Government to stop this before it’s too late. The Government is pushing these cuts and the councils have got to balance their budgets and inevitably they cut the amount which goes to the most vulnerable. This is downward spiral.
”We are doing this for our children and our children’s children.”
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