Drawn up by Mark, my banner read:
which I thought pithy and accurate.
The Hardest Hit March was an exhilarating experience. So many angry but peaceful people marching on Parliament to protest at the bullying and oppression we are being subjected to by this ConDem government.
For my own part I struggled to propel my wheelchair along with the march. I started pretty much at the beginning with our coachload from NCODP but energy flagging and arms dropping off I slowly and gradually fell further and further back through towards the end - the positive thing being that I saw much more of the other protesters and chatted with them than I would if I'd have been able to keep up. I did it though - with huge pride at joining with these brave people who had come from all parts of the country to register their disgust at the government policies which are blighting their lives. A unique striving for equality and social justice.
However knackered I was though, I did it - all the way from Victoria Embankment; to the rally where Mark made a terrific speech, following the Byrne on the big screen; to Parliament; and on, around the houses, to Methodist Central Hall where the rooms had been arranged for people to lobby their MPs. I say 'around the houses' because that's what happened. I don't know who was responsible for this, possibly the police, but we were anly allowed where we were herded and that was through a maze of streets - streets and pavements unsuitable for wheelchairs. And this section of the march had to run the gauntlet of traffic too.
Westminster Council should be thoroughly ashamed of what little attempts they seem to have made to provide disability access - paving uneven and badly sloped; and some dropped kerbs were like ski jumps - the wheelchair nosediving down one side and then a real struggle to propel the chair up the other. And I don't know if the organisers did any real planning but the Methodist Central Hall was a most unsuitable venue - steps up to the ground floor and one small door leading to two small lifts to get to the first floor where the lobbying rooms, toilets and cafeteria are. This for what was then a queue of about two thousand disabled people. And to top it all, the whole of the area and streets around the Hall are COBBLED! And further than that, the cobbles are relatively new ones. Good old Westminster Council: always observing equality legislation.
My MP, RICHARD BACON, MP for South Norfolk, successfully avoided me. I had requested that he meet me at the venue in April. I received an e mail the evening before the march - Mr Bacon was too much of a coward to get in touch personally, the mail was from one of his researchers saying the Bacon diary was very full but he would, if I gave him a mobile number, phone me if he had a convenient gap. He didn't. So I watched as other marchers talked to their MPs. This is deep blue back Bacon with a yellow streak! Anyway, as he has done before, unable to speak for himself, he would have just trotted out party propaganda.
On the way back at five o clock, I tuned into the news on BBC Radio 4. At half past five when we pulled into Stanstead services, there was still not a single mention of the march. When I got home, Kathy told me there had only been a very brief mention on the BBC TV news and little more on Anglia TV news. That is disgusting neglect by the media, especially BBC - I suppose disabled people are unimportant to them. A reflection of how this government treats us and neglects us. Channel 4 news, I see today, had good coverage and the Guardian had a two page spread and a front page. A big thank you to them.
The coach journey from Norfolk for us was easy and pleasurable - smashing new friends for me, Catherine, Danny and Fred with firm friends Mark and Penny, and the others I met for the first time - all lovely people. But for others, getting to London had been a dire struggle - hard and unfriendly, to disabled people, train journeys from Cornwall, Wales and other parts of England. HEROES - ALL OF YOU.