Words & research: Drew Rose
Over three thousand people, counted by The Bristol Cable, attended today’s protest “NO TO CUTS – #endausterityNOW” organised by seven young women. Planned cuts to the NHS and other public services were the main reason people gave for demonstrating. But the perceived illegitimacy of the Conservative government in Bristol was also a major issue.
“The Tories have a minority of the vote but are still going to ride roughshod over Bristol,” said Helen Ross, 31, Eastville, “they are an illegitimate government with scary policies.”
(Photos by: Arvind Howarth, Rowan Quarry and Chris Instinct)
New research by The Bristol Cable demonstrates that just 18.5% of the Bristol electorate voted for the Conservative party. This undermines an earlier criticism of the protest by Jacob Rees- Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset, who accused those taking part of being “tainted by lack of acceptance of democracy”.
“We don’t want to see the rich get richer, we want to see equality for all”, said Sunita Crack, Brislington.
Even discounting those who chose not to vote, the Conservatives gained just 27.6% of the vote in Bristol – far lower than the 40% threshold share of the vote they are planning to impose on unions to legally take strike action.
“I am here to protest the Tory cuts and the austerity measures that are going to fundamentally damage the welfare state and harm millions of people,” said Silas Lehane, 17, Hotwells.
Hannah Layhe, 27, who works at the Bristol Royal Infirmary hospital said: “I`m here because I work in the NHS and I have had first hand experience of the cuts that have already happened. If there are further cuts it will have a massively negative effect on patients and staff – basically the whole NHS will crumble at our feet.”
“I`m worried my jobs going to go” said Sue, “I`m a teaching assistant and I`m worried they`ll make all the schools academies and we’ll be out”.
“I`m mostly here out of compassion and to show solidarity for people who can’t be here: disabled people who maybe can’t be here and protest as vigorously as they would like to, for the children that are facing cuts made now that will affect them in the future, [the Conservatives] are just going to cut right, back and centre,” said Yolanda Quartey, 31, Redland.
The Bristol Cable also spoke to frontline workers in Bristol about their experiences of cuts and their fears for the future.