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21 Jun, 2014 13:43

'No more austerity:' Thousands rally in London demanding alternative from govt

Thousands of protesters hit streets in London in a “no more austerity” march, which demanded an alternative to the “greed and selfishness” of the Con-Dem coalition.

The rally, which also includes a festival, was called by The People's Assembly Against Austerity, an broad coalition of anti-government groups that embraces trade unions and other campaigners. RT's Sara Firth reported from the scene that thousands came to join.

“Living standards continue to drop, forcing millions into poverty, yet the politicians remain addicted to austerity,” the rally’s said.

Assembling on the doorstep of the BBC's offices in London, the demonstrators marched to the Houses of Parliament demanding that “the alternative to austerity” is no longer ignored. Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, one of the two biggest UK trade unions, Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party and Russell Brand, the anti-establishment comedian, came to address the rally.

Thousands of anti-austerity protestors marching through Central #London right now #antiausteritydemopic.twitter.com/1GQQRzTQJO

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) June 21, 2014

RT’s Sara Firth said that people are protesting a range of issues, including cuts to education and to the National Health System.

Owen Jones, a British journalist, who was at the march told RT that despite modest economic growth, Britain is experiencing the biggest fall in living standards since Queen Victoria.

Among the issues people were protesting about are a “fight for a living wage, fight for proper housing, fight for public ownership of the banks and for tax justice,” he said.

Anti-austerity march in #London underway. Join @RT_com live this hour we'll be reporting from the heart of the march pic.twitter.com/s6BFImjWhi

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) June 21, 2014

The diverse march was even joined by Franciscan monks, who - in their traditional brown robes - were at the forefront of the protest.

“Christianity places a quite firm obligation from those who have more to share to look after those who have less,” Brother Robert, of the Franciscan order, told the leftist Morning Star newspaper.

'The message to Government: Stop punishing the poor' @CarolineLucas speaking at #antiausteritydemopic.twitter.com/DIb8awPFwd

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) June 21, 2014

“At the moment the government seems to promote an atmosphere that is rather, well, different,” added the monk, employing characteristic British understatement.

Crowds gathering for #antiausteritydemo#London. They'll be marching to Parliament Square soon. pic.twitter.com/B43sXmsyTA

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) June 21, 2014

Brand came to prominence in UK politics in October 2013, when he called in a TV interview for worldwide “socialist revolution” against the status quo and dismissed the idea of voting for the current political parties represented in the UK parliament.

While one left-wing novelist, Joan Smith, dismissed his performance as "adolescent waffle,” a columnist for the Independent, Simon Kelner, defended him saying: "It sounded rather attractive, even if it wasn't exactly worked through.”

Young, old & everyone in between out at #austeritydemolondon for all kinds of issues: education, NHS, bedroom tax.... pic.twitter.com/XjUJMWBI60

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) June 21, 2014

The anti-austerity protest took place as the largest-ever study into deprivation in Britain revealed that poverty is getting worse, and even working families are now struggling to make ends meet.

The Poverty and Social Exclusion project found that more than 500,000 children are living in families who can’t afford to feed them properly and 5.5 million adults have to go without essential clothing.

Love this guy! '#Cameron ruined the country & #Miliband has no clue' he tells @RT_com at today's austerity protest pic.twitter.com/Zd3PzU8m6T

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) June 21, 2014