Rally Against the Debt: What impact will it have?

So at the age of 33 I went on my first ever demonstration on Saturday. I had just never been inclined before. Like David Skelton I was a little sceptical: demonstrations don’t change the world and they can be self-indulgent. There was also a risk of a PR disaster with a tiny gathering portrayed as over-privileged cranks.

But my curiosity got the better of me. There has never been a pro free market demonstration before. I also felt that this isn’t just a passing fad: the debt and deficit are the most pressing issues facing our country.

I arrived and the crowd was indeed a little small, but there was a good vibe, and some people I knew. I probably wasn’t the only one there who hadn’t been on a demo before. There was a vague uncertainty about what to do. We didn’t march anywhere, and attempts to start chanting got nowhere.

Still the crowd was eclectic and lively. Harry Cole put a Chihuahua in his jacket. A girl’s placard asked George for “more, faster, deeper,” someone else had a “Hayek is my homeboy” t-shirt. It was also good natured, two left-wing counter-protestors trying to get a “Libraries Suck” counter-placard in the photo were seen off with good humour all round.

I should stress that this was not particularly a Tory event. There were representatives from UKIP, the Libertarian party and even the Money Reform Party. Priti Patel and Bill Cash were the Conservative MP speakers – both clearly on the right of the party. Nor was it a boys-in-blazers event. There was a good age range and a sprinkling of people with tattoos, alternative dress habits and anarcho-capitalist symbols. These were the ones with Ayn Rand banners and t-shirts.

Speeches were mercifully short. Nigel Farage’s charisma and populism is something that the Tory party should keep a wary eye on. Martin Durkin the documentary maker was also a lively star turn. After speeches the event started to break-up – after only an hour and a half. The public houses of Westminster beckoned.

Was it a success? Well, only a few hundred people came – but then the right don’t have 2,500 taxpayer funded permanent organisers like the trade unions. It didn’t bring the right together – it brought in only the libertarian Tories. Let’s be clear though, the streets aren’t the ballot box: I doubt a No to AV rally would have got more either. The event was enjoyable and not an embarrassment. It was a start.

The left’s mocking should be roundly dismissed: their rhetoric is all about noble dissent and lonely stands by the weak, but when it comes down to it they seem to revel in the comfortable conformity of the big battalions.

So should we on the right do more demos? Yes, for two reasons – to keep trying new things and to enable the Conservative party to keep in touch with a broader right-wing movement.

A simple example: I met a man who was sceptical of the ability of all political parties to protect his tax money – but he was willing to come to this single issue event. Being prepared to use new techniques and channels is a vital part of the future of Conservative politics.

The libertarian movement certainly isn’t the magic elixir to deliver the voters for a Conservative majority. But the simple fact is that we live in a pluralist age of politics, and this means being that a political party must be willing to be part of a wider movement – whilst avoiding being hijacked by it.


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22 Responses to Rally Against the Debt: What impact will it have?

  1. New blogpost: Rally Against the Debt: What impact will it have? http://bit.ly/iObLW4 #fb

  2. A report on #RallyAgainstDebt by @JamesWorron http://bit.ly/lNQeVb What impact will #RAD have? #fb #Platform10

  3. A report on #RallyAgainstDebt by @JamesWorron http://bit.ly/lNQeVb What impact will #RAD have? #fb via @betapolitics

  4. “@andrew_allison: Rally Against the Debt: What impact will it have? http://t.co/lxIWLxs” << interesting take on #RallyAgainstDebt

  5. Rally Against the Debt: What impact will it have? http://t.co/KJ2r5IR <- Good Platform 10 article

  6. James Worron on Platform 10 wonder what the impact of the "Rally Against the Debt" will be: http://j.mp/mqrJTU

  7. Andy Richards says:

    This is actually quite funny. You’re in complete denial about what a total flop this was aren’t you? The spin you manage to put on a “national” demo of 350 is something quite admirable. If you are holding any more demos, don’t hesitate to call on the anti-cuts movement for some advice on how it’s done.

    Sorry, did I say how many people were on your demo? 350 wasn’t it?

  8. Gregster says:

    And Andy Richards, who wasn’t there, perfectly illustrates a lack of understanding of the basic tenets of the whole debate. Because state-funded attendance is THE defining factor, isn’t it?

    It’s why the left are hollering for a repeal of the hunting ban. naturally.

  9. Andy Richards says:

    “State-funded attendance”? What on earth does that mean? And what does the hunting ban have to do with anything? Is that the plan now – lose the whole sorry episode in a miasma of incomprehensibility? They warned me that the TPA’s hangers-on were a bit eccentric but I had no idea….

    Sorry, I’ve forgotten again…was it 350?

  10. Honest John says:

    “Rally Against the Debt: What impact will it have?”

    Answer: None.

  11. Tapestry says:

    The numbers were about 1500, not 350, not that it makes any difference. The character of the event is well described here. The issue of debt is greatly misrepresented and misunderstood. There need be no cuts of front line services, but a dismantling of the marzipan layer. There are also civil service departments with 23 people doing work which could be done by 3. The debts are intentionally created, not an accident.

    They pass power to the central bankers, who seek our subjugation. Debt is the slow painful death of democracy carried out for political reasons. The coming One World Government seeks the end of national sovereignty. This is their method.

  12. Svengali says:

    No doubt Andy is a man who places great stock in people’s quantity rather than people’s principles.

  13. Lynne says:

    Q. What happens when you hold a rally in support of national fiscal sanity?

    A. The CiFalitics break into a sweat and start carpet-bombing with ad hominems, pig ignorance and absurdities.

  14. Sophie Davies says:

    I suppose if the liberatarian right who oppose leaving our grandchildren massive debts had thousands of nurse Pilgrims to organise rallys we may have seen a bigger turnout.

    But then again, libertarian right wingers are not ones for demos – its a left wing thing really – the mob mentality, the bully with loads of hangers on.

    Also, taxpayers in the private sector – our time is precious – we work long hours to create wealth & jobs to generate taxes so that the public sector can exist.

    With the private sector taxes, there is no public sector – & that is an inconvenient & undeniable truth for you Mr Richards.

  15. Herbert says:

    ‘Rally Against the Debt: What impact will it have?’


  16. Herbert says:

    Sophie Davies Says: ‘But then again, libertarian right wingers are not ones for demos – its a left wing thing really – the mob mentality, the bully with loads of hangers on.’

    Such a precious, sensitive flower. I suppose you’re lucky your bosses have no such scruples.

  17. The event was a success in terms of publicity ( after all media coverage per attendee knocked the TUC and its march for selfishness out of the park ).

    It was a risk – it could have flopped – but it didn’t. There is a risk of hijacking by the more publicity hungry eccentrics, but they bring colour also.

    Oddly its the government that is most threatened by people on the right talking to each other – after all cuts aren’t what they promised to be.

    There are lessons to learn – like get the PA system tested and sufficient. But all in all innovation is a good thing.

    So what next ?

  18. David Skelton says:

    I suspect that the rally will make very little difference. I was highly sceptical before the event, as I said here and didn’t see anything to make me any less sceptical.

    In the piece I wrote, “Putting aside the danger of a “my march is bigger than your march” competition with the TUC, it’s very difficult to see what the march is seeking to achieve” I’m still not convinced that many marchers could answer that question.

    The event seemed full of simplistic slogans and always ran the risk of attending a very small attendance. I very much doubt that a similar event will be organised soon. It did look like an occasion for the political fringe.

    Tim Montgomerie had a good blog about it here:


    As does Tom Byrne here:


  19. John Moss says:

    In the 1970s, the founders of the IEA were described as the last economic liberal left on the planet.

    Long journeys begin with a single step.

  20. John Moss says:

    In the 1970s, the founders of the IEA were described as the last economic liberals left on the planet.

    Long journeys begin with a single step.

  21. Herbert says:

    Man in a Shed Says: ‘It was a risk – it could have flopped – but it didn’t.’

    A flop would have been what – none attending? 35? 102?

  22. Andy Richards says:

    The Taxpayers Alliance….redefining “flop” for the modern age….

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