Opendemocracy: Occupy London and the unions, brothers in arms or?

Tagged as: n30 occupylondon

This week’s public sector strikes over proposed changes to the current pension system won the support of many affiliated but non-affected groups. The 30th November saw UKUncutNCAFC, and Coalition of Resistance as well as student groups and charities, march across the UK in solidarity with the major unions. Though David Cameron was quick to brand the action as a ‘damp squib’, the atmosphere on the street was energetic and empowering. In London, the usual signs and slogans of competing agendas were to be found alongside groups dressed in festive and satirical costumes, but amongst this carnivalesque display it was the Occupy movement’s message, towering high above the other banners and complete with bright orange lettering, which demanded attention.

At the rear of the march towards the Victoria Embankment, members of the St. Paul’s camp wheeled along three large pillars roughly 20 feet in height and sporting the words ‘All Power to the 99%: Occupy’. Stopping every few minutes for members of the press to frantically congregate and take photographs, it was a suitably grand and iconic gesture; impossible to ignore.

Given the statement of support posted on the movement’s webpage on the 25th November it is unsurprising that Occupy had such a large presence at the march but the potential implications of this gesture are significant both for public perceptions of the movement and for its supporters’ own conceptions of the political identity of the group. Indeed, how heavily the Occupy movement is seen to support the specific case of resisting public sector pension reform will have far reaching implications on their relationship with other resistance groups and so too with the Government. 


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