Sunday, 1 May 2011

Not your typical Royal Wedding Weekend

Another long weekend partly thanks to Will and Kate, but to be honest they haven't featured much in my activities over the past 2 days. 

In fact for much of the duration of the wedding I took part in a walk on Manchester's 'Radical, Rebellious and Riotous history' - a well-presented and well-attended 2 hours in which Michael Herbert (who has been researching and writing about Manchester's radical history for 30 years) underlined the many times when Manchester and it's people were in the front line of reform (e.g. I never new that the first fatality in the English Civil War was a linen weaver in what is now Market Street). Michael Herbert is planning to put more of these Manchester-based walks together in future, under the name Red Flag Enterprises. 

All of which segued nicely into a protest in Albert Square, organised by people in the uncut movement, and featuring a mock funeral for our public services.  Coffins and wreaths represented areas ranging from the NHS to the Arts were preceded by a long trumpeter (pictured right).  One of the things I like about the Uncut movement (as well as telling it like it is about the rich and powerful) is its use of more imaginative, almost street theatre, approaches to protests.  It was a small but select band, which fortunately avoided the wave of arrests on peaceful protester which took place elsewhere in the country on Friday (for shame! - see various Youtube videos for evidence).

On Saturday I was back in Chorlton, where I am standing as candidate in Thursday's local elections.  Unity Arts Manchester were running a workshop for children in Beech Road Park, and I was pleased to meet them and have a lengthy chat with one of their volunteer workers, about the work they do in the city for both children and adults, bringing people from different cultures together to celebrate and enjoy our rich heritage.   One impact of the cuts is that they may have to carry more of the burden of issues which would previously have been handled by the paid public sector (without more money to help); it hope that doesn't adversely impact the work they currently do - i fear it might.  

In the same area, I visited the monthly farmer's market outside the Horse and Jockey; whilst I am often critical of the Council, the markets here and outside the Library have been a welcome addition to the Chorlton scene.  We'd like to see more though, and a higher percentage of food actually produced within our city and it's immediate environs.

Next up (this afternoon) - Speaker's corner - an initiative in Platt Fields Park, modelled on the famous Hyde Park speakers' corner.  A chance for a bit of oratory (getting nervous already), whilst a number of my colleagues join the May Day march and rally in the city centre.     Then there's some leaflets to deliver... and so on...

Coming up for me in the next few days:  Speaking at a debate on the AV referendum at Manchester Students Uni. on Wednesday, a slot on Peace FM radio station, later on Wednesday night and the official launch of the 'Save Manchester Sure Start' campaign on Tuesday lunchtime.        

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