I have posted in the past about anti-Brexit marches I attended, in Manchester and in Leeds. So now I’m posting about the one I went to on Saturday 20 October–the largest one by far and the largest march in UK since Stop The War in 2003.
It was a People’s Vote March–campaigners demanding a vote for the final Brexit deal, but come on, everyone was there with EU flags and Bollocks-to-Brexit stickers.
An estimated 700,000 took part, I think that is the official figure. Trust me, it was HUGE. I was there. I have never seen that many people together in one place ever, in my life. The march went from Park Lane to Parliament Square (where there was a stage set up for the speakers) but a lot of us couldn’t even get to Parliament Square, because it was so packed with people, so we had to turn around and go back.
Coaches came from all over the country, many of them paid by celebrities or other VIPs. There were four coaches from Manchester and I was on one.
The coach departed at 6:30am. I’m very much a not-morning person, but for this I got out of bed without throwing any abuse at my alarm clock. I was as excited as a kid going to Disneyland!
One thing’s interesting–I suffer from really bad travel sickness, especially on coaches but on this occasion my stomach didn’t flutter once, and I sat right at the back where it’s usually the worst. The Universe was looking out for me on that day.
Some North West representation on the above two pics. (The flags on the bottom one are Cheshire flag and Lancashire flag.)
People really got creative with their banners and placards, though I had no chance of snapping many of them, due to the sheer size of the march. I think my favourite one was “I’m so cross I’m missing football for this”. If that’s not a sign that it’s serious, then nothing is.
At the Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner there was a gathering of dogs with their owners, who campaigned for Pet Passports (this concerns all of us pet owners). They set up a pee station for them.
What I love about these marches is the atmosphere, everyone is so positive and people are dead nice to each other.
Whether there will be a People’s Vote or not remains to be seen. It’s probably something I won’t be able to participate as I’m not allowed to vote in UK in anything other than local elections (and will lose even that right after April 2019). Once again I will be just watching other people entering polling stations like I had to do on the day of the EU Referendum.
To be fair, the campaigners are demanding a Final Say For All, which would include us and those British citizens living in the EU countries that couldn’t vote in the Referendum because they’ve been out of the country for too long. If David Cameron wasn’t so stupid he would have given us the right and we would have swung the result the other way and he would still be a Prime Minister, but it’s pointless to talk about that now.
I hope this march will still be talked about for years to come. And I can look all my current and future nephews in the eye and tell them, that on that beautiful sunny autumn day in London, I was there.
Link to Guardian that has some good shots from the march.
I attended a Stop Brexit March in Leeds on Saturday, my second march of this kind. I’m posting about it somewhat late; I felt exhausted all day Sunday as I also went to a friend’s son first birthday party when I got back to Manchester. I normally barely set a foot outside on weekends if I don’t have to. My body can’t quite handle so much action!
This march was one of similar marches taking place around the country to mark the first anniversary of the triggering of the Article 50. The Leeds march represented North.
This was my first time visiting Leeds and I will definitely visit again, properly with my camera; this time my attention was dedicated solely to the march. All pictures were taken with my smartphone.
It all started on the train:
I caught the same train as some fellow protesters, who hung EU flag on the window.
Of course the giant EU flag wasn’t missing.
More pics and signs and banners:
One of the speakers at the march was Richard Corbett MEP, you can see him on the above picture on the very left, talking to the woman with blond hair. I’ve met him before at a Q&A session he did at the University of Manchester last year.
I suppose the next picture should come with a trigger warning!
I was pleased I got to photograph the Brexit Monster up close, it was too far away from me at the Manchester march.
Will this message get across?
What’s been frustrating to me recently is not the events that are happening, it’s the fact that people don’t seem to care a bit. They’re going about their lives, probably thinking it’ll all work out or possibly believing that Brexit won’t happen, whilst doing nothing towards it not to happen. It’s this apathy that that’s the worst. I’ve not heard anyone outside my circle even mention the Cambridge Analytica story. Even Remainers say we should just “get on with it”. Um, no.
One day they’ll wake up in the morning into a first day of dictatorship and will keep asking, how did this happen? Like this, motherfuckers. Sigh.
To end the post on a positive note, it’s been great seeing news about March for Life in USA. To all the people that came out to the streets, I want to say: you absolutely rock!
This sign is outside one of the many University buildings on Oxford Road in Manchester.
Why have I taken a picture of such a random thing? Because 1. that’s what I do and 2. it reminded me of something.
If you’ve watched Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, then you will recognise “Everything is connected” as a sort of tagline of the show. (If you haven’t watched it, then I highly recommend it–it’s funny and clever and has amazing characters, so basically everything a good TV series should be.)
It also reminded me of another thing, non-fictional.
And now for the pictures from march and the street party and rally. Some flags:
Banners and placards:
For those who don’t know and are asking, what bus? This bus:
Basically, that slogan is a lie but people didn’t know that and for many that was the reason to vote Leave. That’s the bus I–and many others–have been thrown under. I still have tire marks left over from it.
Elvis was here.
This is Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for EU speaking at the rally.
And of course, fake Boris Johnson riding a unicorn.
And finally Alastair Campbell playing Ode To Joy on bagpipes.
The march took place to coincide with the Conservative Party Conference, which is currently taking place in Manchester. This is part of Autumn of Discontent–a series of marches happening all across the country.
It is also the first time I’ve been out on the streets protesting since my mum took me with her to the Velvet Revolution demonstrations in November 1989, which spelt the end of Communist era in Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Today is the anniversary of the Brexit referendum.
The past 12 months have been a rollercoaster of negative emotions, from anger to disappointment, to sadness and helplessness and rage so intense, it made me want to break things. That sick feeling when I woke up on the morning of 24th June 2016 to the referendum results? I never, ever want to experience that again, ever.
It’s exhausting and I’m tired of it.
So–what now? This now.
It was the song.
You know when you listen to a certain song and it, like, does something to you? I’m sure most of you have experienced it. So, I was listening to The Beatles–which is unusual for me as I normally favour 90s to present music, but I bought a ticket to see their museum in Liverpool, so I thought I should play me some of their tunes. Now, I’d known this song since forever, of course, but this is the time I fully and completely and 100% appreciated it.
This was back in April and I was thinking about how it would be a year since the referendum in two months’ time and I should mark that anniversary somehow; I don’t remember exactly how it came about, I just know it had something to do with the song. Then I’ve been coming across some quotes about forgiveness and how holding a grudge is like letting the person live rent-free inside your head and all that and I made a decision.
So today I want to say this to the Leave voters: I forgive you.
You really had no clue what the fuck you were doing. And even if you did have a clue, I still forgive you anyway.
Paul McCartney wrote the song after he had a dream in which his late mother spoke those words “let it be” to him. His mum’s name was Mary, so mother Mary is actually her, but he said if you want to interpret it religiously as Virgin Mary, then you can. I see her as a very wise mature lady who knows better. I should probably listen to her more often!
Some things I want to add:
at times when I felt so hateful towards the whole of UK, I took a few deep breaths and repeated to myself, the 48%, the forty eight percent, THE FORTY EIGHT PERCENT and thought of everything I liked about this country or that came from here (English breakfast, Agatha Christie etc) and I thought of the children, who have lost their chance at being EU citizens before they even knew what it was
my line manager at work has been an absolute rock
the Facebook group for EU citizens in UK and Brits in EU has been massively helpful to me. I’m prone to anxiety and sometimes I think I’m the only crazy one, so to read that other people are as much worried as me (while the outside world keeps saying oh, but you’ll be alright, they can’t send you back) certainly made me feel better. So much blame is thrown on social media but positives are overlooked.
there was a hilarious article in a Swiss paper (link to translation). Switzerland is not in EU and keeps neutral, so I think I can trust their judgement
Over to you, Fab Four:
I wonder, if anyone would like to share in the comments: is there a song that has made an impact in your life or is important to you in any way?
I am not allowed to vote in UK because I’m not a UK citizen. (True, I can vote in local elections, but whoever cares about that. Well, maybe you do if you’re a fan of Parks and Recreation but otherwise?)
So in UK, the way it works, Commonwealth citizens are eligible vote in General Election, but EU citizens aren’t. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived here five years or fifty. That’s why the government is able to play us like a game of chess. We don’t matter.
Honestly, it never did bother me–how much difference does one person’s vote make anyway–until the 2016 Referendum. Then it very much bothered me. You see, I have this issue with being denied a vote in something that will affect my life.
This snap election has a lot to do with Brexit, as we know. So I’ve been feeling kinda like this:
I never take selfies, you know.
I decided I’m getting a pizza on Friday, regardless of the outcome. Pizza, not politics. Like I said before, Breakfast, not Brexit. I have nothing to lose in this, anyway.
So, if you’re here and you can, please don’t forget to go out and vote!
Since I started talking about eligibility to vote, I should also add that UK citizens that have lived in another country for more than 15 years lose their right to vote. I feel I need to mention it, because those British that live in EU countries are the same bargaining chips as us.
I like to refer to Manchester as my adopted hometown.
I came to Manchester in 2003 on an au-pair placement. Oft-times I think of how lucky I was to end up here. A city, but not as huge and frantic and loud (and expensive) as London.
I first heard about the attack late on Monday night. It was reported that there was a loud bang at the Manchester Arena after the Ariana Grande concert and at the same time, Metrolink (which I use for my everyday transport) tweeted that services were not going through Victoria Station due to a police incident. Shit, I thought, I bet this is gonna last till tomorrow morning and how will I get to work?
(To clarify, Manchester Arena is next to Victoria Station, the box office entrance is through the station. I pass this station daily, it is physically impossible for me to avoid it when going to and from the city centre.)
As the reports coming in became clearer and clearer, my getting to work stopped being a priority.
You hear there are fatalities. And then you remember, Ariana Grande’s fanbase is young. Very young.
You hear about an attack like this and you want to be a good person and not believe that it is that thing it usually is and then it turns out that it is that thing that is usually is. But this is not what my post is about.
Times of tragedy bring out the goodness in people. Taxi drivers offering free rides. Cafe giving out free coffee to emergency workers. Hotel giving shelter to frightened teens returning from the concert. A homeless man rushing to help the injured.
Terror threat has now been raised to critical and it’s likely we will see soldiers on the streets tomorrow. I will get up in the morning and go to work and do my job as usual and when I finish I will go home and do shopping and cook my dinner and feed my cat and watch my shows and read books as usual, because I’m damned if I let any fanatical terrorist do anything differently.
It is a cliche to talk about the friendliness of the north. Manchester has problems just as every city does: nowhere is populated by saints, everyone is capable of unkindness or worse. But whereas, in other cities, people can be in too much of a rush to bother with niceties, where icy politeness is a substitute for warmth, Manchester stands out. Strangers ask how you are, and mean it. People who have never met can strike up conversations on public transport and on the street: in London, that is seen, quite frankly, as a bit odd. That would have happened in that concert yesterday. That’s just what Mancs do.
Yesterday, Manchester was one of the greatest cities on earth, and it remains so today. The warmth, the solidarity, the unique Manc humour, all of that will thrive as much as it ever did. This was the city that helped bequeath modern industrial civilisation; it is a hurricane of creativity and talent, like the music of Oasis and The Smiths, the art of Lowry, Corrie, the football, the athletes, the comedians, the suffragettes, the LGBT activists.
25 March 2017 marks 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome – which eventually led to the formation of European Union
This entry is unapologetically Eurocentric.
EU has always meant a lot to me. I was born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, in former Czechoslovakia. I was nine when Velvet Revolution that overthrew the Communists happened. I still remember bits of it; my mum taking me with her out to the streets, the banners, the slogans. This was 1989. Mere fifteen years later, both Slovakia and Czech Republic joined the EU–an astonishing achievement. It enabled me to make something of myself in UK, where I first came to in 2003 as an au pair. As 2003 was before we joined EU, I still had to wait a line outside the British Embassy early in the morning to obtain a visa.
I’ve never been patriotic, I’m just not wired that way. I’m a European. I am fiercely loyal to my home city of Bratislava (don’t let me hear anyone badmouthing it!) but that’s about it. People usually call me Eastern European, however I reject that label because that’s not what I am.
Bratislava sits on the border of both Austria and Hungary, the only capital city in the world located at a tripoint. You can easily walk between the three countries as you would in your favourite park. Some people even pass the border twice a day on their commute to work.
I came across this article by Guy Verhofstadt published in Guardian. Guy Verhofstadt is a former Prime Minister of Belgium, a Member of European Parliament and the leader of Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
In the decades since [the Treaty of Rome] was signed, European countries have worked successfully to fight against the return of the rampant nationalism that led to two world wars and the slaughter of millions of Europeans, finding a way to work together to create a largely peaceful, free and prosperous continent.
In 2017, the EU stands at a crossroads. Our common project is consistently attacked and denigrated by nationalists, often working with authoritarian regimes outside the EU, who wish to destroy the EU and once again set our communities and societies against each other.
It is ironic that, as we saw in the Brexit referendum, the postwar generation that benefited so much from European integration is now driving an explosion of Eurosceptic nationalism. Young people, a majority of whom deeply value their European citizenship, too often face barriers to full political participation.
Ah, but Brussels demanded they use low-energy light bulbs… or something.
Nationalists tell us that the nation state is best placed to deal with common challenges, but their argument fails the test of reason and ignores the nature of the trans-national threats we face. Climate change, international terrorism and the negative consequences of globalisation cannot be tackled by individual countries acting independently. If the European Union of today did not exist, we would have to create it.
And you know what’s funny? You can argue that UK is NOT a nation state. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.
Ultimately, nationalism will be rejected because its politicians are incapable of resolving the challenges we face. It is time for those who believe in a united Europe to stand up and be counted.
Beautifully put. I hope he’s right.
28 Members of EU
UK (for now)
I love you all.
Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, an Anthem of Europe, performed by Banco Sabadell Flashmob:
Today I want to share with you two phone camera shots I took the other day in Manchester City Centre. Both make a clear statement.
This is on the wall on Oldham Street, Manchester. Oldham Street is part of Northern Quarter, a centre of alternative culture, independent shops and suchlike. (Come to think of it, this blogs needs some pics of that area!)
Brexit and Trump seem to get mentioned together a lot. Imagine one day in the future someone who is a baby now, or not born yet, asking you: “What were they, some comedy duo?”
I wish. The difference is, The Donald won’t be in charge for more than 8 years but Brexit is final.
Window of a Diesel shop on Deansgate says Make Love Not Walls.
This politics thing is getting a bit tiring, isn’t it.