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Posted on 14 March 2011 at 22:31 GMT

Thousands protest against Lib Dems in Sheffield

5000 people protested in Sheffield outside the Liberal Democrats' spring conference, photo Robbie Faulds

5000 people protested in Sheffield outside the Liberal Democrats' spring conference, photo Robbie Faulds   (Click to enlarge)

About 500 people protested on Friday evening (11 March) and ten times that number on Saturday's demonstration (12 March) in Sheffield outside the Liberal Democrats' spring conference.

Lots of young people, many who had voted Lib Dem, raged against Nick Clegg's broken promises.

Alistair Tice, Sheffield Socialist Party
5000 people protested in Sheffield outside the Liberal Democrats' spring conference, photo Jack Jones

Photo Jack Jones   (Click to enlarge)

They were joined by contingents of trade unionists: CWU postal workers fighting Royal Mail privatisation, RMT railworkers, PCS civil servants, Unison NHS and council workers, NUT teachers, UCU lecturers and many more local people who just wanted to show their anger against what's regarded as Clegg's betrayal of Sheffield by his joining up with the Tories.

Clegg is so unpopular in this city that his showcase conference at the City Hall had to be protected by an eight foot high security fence and 1,000 police at a cost of around 2 million.

5000 people protested in Sheffield outside the Liberal Democrats' spring conference, photo Jack Jones

Photo Jack Jones   (Click to enlarge)

Another three city centre streets had security fences across them ready to close off roads to kettle protesters. A library worker told me: "It makes me so cross that they're spending 2 million on saving him when that money would save library services for three years".

The police began the weekend with a charm offensive, sending blue-jacketed 'liaison officers' to reassure protesters that: "We're from the north, we're not like the police in London".

Well, us northerners haven't forgotten the miners' strike!

However, the 'friendly' police were engaged in several discussions about job and pay cuts, the need for a real police trade union and the right to strike.

Photo Robbie Faulds

Photo Robbie Faulds   (Click to enlarge)

Cameron may have made a big mistake attacking the police as well as all the other public sector workers. One passing civil servant told me: "After 20 years I've finally joined the union, I've never protested about anything before but what they want to do to my pension is the final straw.

"And my husband is a policeman and he's getting cut too!"

The 5,000-strong march with union banners and homemade placards looked really impressive, all along Charter Row before entering Barker's Pool for a rally with speakers including Len McCluskey, the Unite union general secretary.

Liberal Democrat delegates were jeered through the fencing and placards were beaten on the wire mesh. There was a really good atmosphere among protesters and a feeling that this was the start of something big that would bring down the coalition government.

And there was a real openness amongst 'virgin' demonstrators to socialist ideas, with 190 copies of the Socialist sold over the two days.

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Related links:

Liberal Democrats:

triangleWorkers' movement must launch a campaign for a general election

triangleLib Dems: little bosses' party elects eager pro-austerity leader

triangleFighting for socialism amid capitalist chaos

triangleCorbyn's manifesto: An important step in the right direction

triangleTUSC: To stand or not to stand?

Sheffield:

triangleSouth Yorkshire: No to fire service cuts!

triangleSouth Yorkshire Freedom Riders - still battling on

triangleWell-supported strike against cuts at Bradfield school

triangleSheffield tree campaigners' legal win

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