Last weekend saw the Spring Liberal Democrat conference in Sheffield and with it thousands of protesters took to the streets to show Nick Clegg exactly what they think.
Despite it being expected that around 10,000 people would protest only an estimated 5,000 did. The £2million worth of defence measures, including 1000 police officers drafted in from bordering counties, only gave the protesters more fuel to use against the government.
Maxine Bowler from UNITE gave a passionate speech and attacked them for cutting £5million from Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital. She then accused them of spending nearly half of that on, “barricading the Liberals in because they can’t face the people of this city.”
She also went on to say: “We had Thatcher saying there is no such thing as society, now we have Cameron with the Big Society. This Big Society is a cover for privatisation.” She claimed that the government expect the public to, “volunteer and live on air.”
The crowds were encouraged by this, and similar speeches, but the atmosphere remained peacefully defiant. There was only one reported arrest but this was not for the violence that was expected.
One of the organisers of the protest was Martin Mayer from Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance who encouraged a peaceful protest to the crowd.
He also wanted to tell the Lib Dems to, “hang your heads in shame, re-think what you’re doing, pull out of this coalition while you’ve still got a chance and save this country from the appalling damage that your government is doing.” He maintained that all there were on the “moral high ground” and would work with the police to keep it a peaceful protest.
Also speaking at the protest was Paul Brandon from Right to Work. He said: “This government and the Lib Dems say that we’ve got to pay off this deficit, but since the Second World War we have had a greater deficit compared to the GDP.” He named Nick Clegg the, “liar in chief” and said: “he won’t get away with the lies, cheating and vandalism he’s trying to get away with in the country.”
Throughout the day no member of the Liberal Democrats gave a statement to the protesters. They were even booed out of a pub next to the City Hall but some did stand on the steps of City Hall to look at the crowd. Nick Clegg stayed in the conference behind the Wall of Steel built for him.
By Sarah Walters