This was my fifth anti Brexit march (I covered thefirstthree on the blog before; the fourth one, which I didn’t post about, took place at the end of September in Manchester during the Conservative Party Conference). One sometimes wonders what the point is, why we still bother, but we do because it’s not the end yet.
I spent the whole time with three other guys from our coach from Manchester. As the coach dropped us off at the Embankment instead of Hyde Park, we decided to walk straight to Parliament Square, where the stage was set up for the rally and which was the end point of the march. So, we didn’t do any actual marching but we saw all the speakers. It’s the complete opposite of last year, where I did march but couldn’t even get to Parliament Square because it was so packed, the police had to turn people away at Whitehall. It’s really good to have experienced both.
I didn’t plan to blog about this march, or any other march again, I don’t want to clog my blog with Brexit posts (it seems to me there are too many but what can I do when I feel it every single day?) but at the same time, I feel like I need to give it a shout out. Truth is, it was an amazing, fantastic, beautiful experience and probably one of the best days of my life, despite getting up dead early to catch the coach at 6:30 and spending altogether about 11 hours on the said coach.
I would do it again.
If you want, you can read more about the march here.
Election of the Members of the EU parliament, that is!
And this time around, I AM allowed to vote–and sure as hell I AM voting!
You may be astonished, shocked even. Are you telling me that EU is actually not unelected? Are you telling me I can vote for MEPs?
Why yes. How else do you think that horrible nicotine-riddled repulsive frog-face that shouts so much and whose initials are the same as National Front got that job? (I am not typing his name here because I refuse to soil my blog with it–not because he’s Voldemort. He wishes he was Voldemort, but he’s more like Uncle Vernon.) He also passionately loves that job, because why else would he lead such a loud campaign for his new party? Because he wants to get elected again so that he can still have the said job.
But forget about ugly fascists, that’s not why I’m here, I’m here to tell you to GO AND VOTE. If you don’t want Brexit, vote for a Remain party. (This would be Greens or Lib Dems in England.)
Something else I want to say now.
As I say in the linked post, I am–as an EU citizen–allowed to vote in local elections but not in general elections or referendums (yeah, that one that affects my life most, isn’t democracy great?) I am also allowed to vote in EU Parliament elections–but this was not so straight forward.
The way it works in UK is: you register to vote at your local electoral office. Every time you move house, you should do this, so that your address is up to date (also it helps with getting credit). Before an election takes place, you will receive a poll card, like the one on my picture. You don’t need to take this with you to vote, it’s just for information. Now, like lots of people, I never paid attention to any EU elections before 2016. I didn’t even know when they took place and were not on my radar. I was under the impression that I couldn’t vote in those either, because of something someone told me (someone who was either lying or didn’t know). I only found out I could because now I’m connected with other EU citizens in UK and activists through social media. And wouldn’t be connected to them if it wasn’t for Brexit, so ironically, it was Brexit that made me learn about my right to vote in EU parliament elections.
Why was it not so straight-forward, though? Well, because I had to register for EU Parliament elections separately from the usual register. Someone I follow on Twitter, a fellow EU citizen, tweeted a link to the necessary form. So I printed the form, filled it in and posted it to the electoral office. A few days later I received the form back, not the one I sent but a new one, same but with my details filled in by computer and with a barcode at the bottom. So I sighed, filled the fields I needed to fill in, signed it again and personally dropped it at the council offices in their mailbox, while out on a lunch break. I heard nothing from them. In the meantime, poll cards arrived for the other tenants in this house (I live in a house converted to flats with shared letterbox) but not for me (don’t you just love being excluded?) I felt so stressed about it that I rang the electoral office and they confirmed I was indeed registered. I was so relieved.
And my poll card eventually came.
The reason I write all of this is: why does it take grassroots activists for me to find out about my right? Why was I not informed about this?
And it’s not just me, I know the other EU citizens also didn’t know. Luckily groups like The3Million have been doing a great job raising awareness to get everyone registered. But it’s not their job to do so. The councils know if you’re an EU citizen. They know it well enough not to let you vote in general elections and referendums that may ruin your life. So they should know it well enough to inform you in time that you need to register separately for EU elections. The issue is not that there is a separate form for a separate register. I don’t mind filling in another form to get what I need. The issue is that we were never told about it.
Why is there a separate register for EU citizens to vote in EU Parliament elections? If I’m not mistaken it’s because the form is also a declaration that you are not also registered in another EU country, so you won’t vote twice, in two different countries. If you’re an EU citizen living in UK, you can vote either in your home country, or in UK, but not both. I get that.
Of course we don’t do that. That’s cheating and we don’t do cheating because that’s what bad guys do and we’re not bad guys, we’re good guys. For me it makes sense on every level to vote for UK MEPs. Like, I left Slovakia before it even was an EU country, I don’t even know how it works there and what parties there are. I don’t follow Slovak politics. I know they recently elected a woman for a President but I already forgot her name. (BTW, Slovakia is a parliamentary democracy and the Prime Minister has bigger power than a President.) Point is, I want to vote for UK representatives.
How it should work, in my opinion is: electoral offices should send every EU citizen who is registered to vote a letter some time before EU Parliament elections, informing them that they are eligible to vote either in their home country or in UK, but not in both and that if they wish to vote in UK, to complete the enclosed form. Simple.
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!
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.