This Saturday is the TUC, “March for the Alternative” a demonstration against the government’s deep spending cuts and for alternative measures. I’ve had this date in my mind for what seems like forever. I feel trepidation and excitement, it’s nearly here. I will be joining the main march from a “feeder march” starting at Kennington Park, along with Oz Girl and a number of my colleagues. In fact it was one of my colleagues who told me that there is a long history of political gatherings at Kennington Park, so I did a little research and some of them are mentioned in this offering;
Where will our place be in history,
As a futile gesture or thumping victory?
Kennington Park – birthplace of democracy.
Will we just look – silly?
With placards and banners waving
Our belief and our bravery
Will it be the Monster Rally
That will echo like 1848?
That gathering of thousands of Chartists
To get working class names on voting lists
And before that, 50,000 Methodists
Demanding that slavery desist.
How many have gathered at Kennington
To hear the rallying cry and relentlessly march on?
With belief that the argument could be won
And efforts not wasted, ignored, gone.
Whether it be Anti-Apartheid
Irish Solidarity or Gay Pride
Reclaim the Streets
Or the ever-present TUC
Community event for the Vietnamese
Or those Nigerian rallies
The people who marched against Poll Tax
Or those who stood for Kurdistan
Will our actions echo through the ages?
Will the ripples be felt after decades and decades?
Will our grandchildren care why we battled?
And what are the chances of me getting kettled?
So what will our place be in history?
Or somewhere in between.
The “Monster Rally” which I mentioned was at Kennington Common (as it was then known) on 10 April 1848. And guess what? Here’s a photo of that particular gathering.
This is creditted as being the first ever photo of a large gathering. The Chartists were made up of Catholics, Protestants, Irish, West Indian and Asian people, and Women’s groups. The gathering on Saturday will also certainly be extremely diverse (although a few of the fashions changed somewhat) and I take a sense of pride that we will in some way, reflect that event of so many years ago. I think those Chartists would be pleased to know that their actions are remembered, they did acheive something (albeit not immediately) and I hope beyond hope that we will too.