On the afternoon of Saturday 21st June celebrity comedian Russell Brand joined approximately 50,000 people, of all ages, cultures and backgrounds to gather together for a joint cause – to march in protest for alternative public spending measures. This follows the austerity measures presented by the coalition government in the UK. The crowd joined outside the BBC’s News Broadcasting house and made their way to Westminster where they gathered in front of the Houses of Parliament. Here, several additional celebrity speakers supported the campaign including MP Caroline Lucas and journalist Owen Jones who each addressed the crowd.
The People’s Assembly organized the protest, believing that a re-evaluation of public spending measures is necessary for the welfare of the UK. The measures, which were implemented in 2013 to reduce budget deficit involve reduced government spending on public facilities including welfare, housing benefits, pensions, local councils, education and the health service. The new model intends to reduce public spending by £81 billion over the next four years, allowing funds to go into other schemes and to bring the country into a healthier and more productive state for several years to come.
Statistics show that the scheme may challenge access to employment, yet this allows for people to take their own action, and perhaps improve themselves and employ relevant resources to be better equipped for employment. The People’s Assembly called out to the nation in a letter published in a popular UK newspaper, behaving as a national forum for the views shared in the protest and have proposed an alternative model for the measures, however, tasks lie in its acknowledgement. The plight of Russell Brand and his dedication to this cause may enhance the ability for these voices to be heard. He has been championed for his participation and inspiring words during the march, stating that instead of working on behalf of those the measures affect the most, members of parliament ‘represent their friends in big business,’ he encouraged citizens to ‘take back the power’.
Russell Brand speaks at Saturday’s campaign:
Brand regularly submits powerful articles on the subject matter to mainstream newspapers and on his website. He has appeared on television to campaign for the cause and acts as a steadfast representation of citizens, highlighting the fact that he has experienced the challenges many people are now facing. It is also important to recognize the value of The People’s Assembly; having organized the event efficiently, professionally and acting as a reliable resource for those involved. Sam Fairburn, the national secretary of the group stated that ‘the march galvanized us’.
It is equally important to recognize the work of the government and the challenges their role encounters. The tasks involved to rectify the country’s debt may be far from simple and it should be acknowledged that politicians are acting to resolve it, for the welfare of future generations.
Campaigns of this nature allow for recognition of all opinions. In roles of power it may come across that government views are more effectively presented, however coverage of Saturday’s march provides the opportunity for all voices to be heard. It is important that the awareness of this event is heightened bringing light to these issues. Russell Brand has been consistently involved in political action since his rise to fame and his celebrity status has supported this cause into the limelight. Additionally, the views he expressed on Saturday and in relevant broadcasts present a constructive method of protest, which could function as a useful model for further demonstrations.
The comedian views the protest as a revolution, which may lead to a ‘peaceful, effortless and joyful’ movement. This aim is a refreshing contrast to similar demonstrations seen throughout the world, which have challenged the safety of citizens. Whilst stewarded by the police, Saturday’s march ran smoothly and peacefully. These facts allow the conclusion that peaceful, professionally organized protests are more constructive in raising awareness and implementing productive change, allowing campaigners to stay focused on their core aims.
Demonstrators also held the mainstream media to account for their limited coverage on the event, calling for them to utilize their ability to raise further awareness on the issue. Therefore the recognition celebrities such as Russell Brand have brought to the cause may even work to increase support from powerful broadcasters too.
This demonstration has championed unity and community spirit, bringing a diverse range of people together to work for a joint cause on a united front. Its celebrated coverage may allow others to recognize they too can be involved and contribute to an improved change in the second march, which is planned to take place in conjunction with the Trade Union Congress in October. With both the people and the government’s voices being heard society may now be able to work towards a balanced solution.
How do you think these peaceful demonstrations make a productive improvement for society?