On 26 March 2011, 500,000 people marched through London in protest against government spending cuts. The March For The Alternative was one of the largest demonstrations ever seen in the UK.

To mark the day, the SAVE OUR PLACARDS team asked people to leave their protest material at a tree in Hyde Park.

Hundreds left us their placards, banners, and costumes. And we've worked hard to find new audiences for the material since.

Below, people share the politics behind their slogans, their experiences of the demonstration, and thoughts on what has happened since in Con-Dem austerity Britain.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

No to all this jazz

This is what Iain had to say about creating and carrying the fantastic Mr Jazz Hands...
"I made the placard the night before the protest. It took about half an hour. I photocopied my friend’s hands – blown up for comedy effect – and mounted everything on foam board to make it 3D. The wobbling jazz hands were attached using a spring coil from an A4 office notepad using superglue and masking tape.

"I found the stick lying in the road when I was walking home that night. It just happened to be the perfect length, width and colour.
"I wanted to show my support for everyone working in the public sector. The cuts affect everyone, and there are other ways in which money can be saved such as a Robin Hood tax and clamping down on tax avoidance. While the message on the placard is generic, I think that’s a good thing; it means it can be used over and over again for anything as long as Cameron’s in power.
"It irritates me that we’re basically told we can go on demonstrations as long as we don’t cause any trouble. It’s as if the powers that be are saying: “We’ll let you have your nice little march around for the day and then we’ll cut all your services anyway.” So, while I don’t want to get involved in any violence myself, I do think the whole polite protest thing is a bit ridiculous, so I was trying to make a point about that, too.

"The day itself was fantastic. Everyone we marched with was in good humour, and there was a real sense of purpose. The only time it felt slightly sinister was when we passed the area around Fortnum & Mason and saw the smashed windows.
"One highlight was exchanging banner-waving with Josie Long: “David, all artists hate you. Except Tracey Emin and you’re welcome to her.” We definitely brought a smile to a few faces, including most of the police. I’m not sure if that includes the riot police; I couldn’t see past their protective shields and head gear.
"I’m not really sure if protests like this make a great deal of difference. They didn’t stop the Iraq war. They didn’t stop the tuition fees increase. And there hasn’t been anything to suggest that there will be fewer cuts. But that won’t stop me taking part. Freedom of speech is vital, and it’s good to meet up with so many other like-minded people who believe in something strongly enough to get out and shout about it.

"In terms of really making a difference, Twitter and organisations such as Avaaz.org and 38degrees.org.uk have really come into their own. Just look at the u-turns on the forest sales, the NHS reforms, the BSkyB bid. It’s easier than ever for people to protest via these kinds of channels, which is a brilliant, brilliant thing. 
"But placards are definitely a prettier, wittier way to protest."

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