Of the talks I did hear, I was very moved by Clare from the Oxford Feminist Network and Reclaim the Night. It turns out that we are not 'all in it together,' but that the male-dominated cabinet / lib-con government have decided that women have the broadest shoulders and should therefore carry the heaviest burden from the problems created by the male-dominated boards of banks that screwed the economy.
Peter, a professor (or something) of economics from Ruskin College was by far the most animated and loudest speaker. As well as the great quote of "the only good economist is a dead economist" (himself being one from the ranks of economists), it was refreshing to see somebody genuinely angry about the cuts. And somebody who was willing to put an alternative model of reducing the deficit forward. Turns out, according to Peter, that three quarters of the deficit could be funded by just collecting taxes from the rich people that don't pat what they are meant to.
Other speakers included Sushila from the Green Party, somebody from Labour (remember them?), a former (or maybe current) teacher and mother, and somebody from the NASUWT. They probably had good things to say, but I really couldn't hear what they said.
As well as the speakers, there were several other groups that made their presence felt at the rally. Various unions were there, as well as many of the 'factions of the left' (you probably know who I mean. I'm not knocking them, but just saying you would expect them to be there. And they were. And no, I do not want to buy a paper).
It was also good to seem some less-usual suspects, such as Oxford CND and many students. Students getting radicalised again is a very welcome situation as far as I'm concerned. And even a fair scattering of anarchists who completely broke the stereotype by not being dressed in black and breaking things. It was almost like there is more to anarchism than the Daily Express would have you believe.
So, all in all, a good night. But a few concerns or thoughts for the future.
* Why so few people? I reckon that more than 200 people are worried about the cuts. Where are they? Perhaps they will only rise up when the cuts actually happen?
* Do rallies just preach to the converted? How do we bring others on board?
* What do we do next? There was talk of a march in March. But that feels a long way away.
* What do we do next (2)? Let's be honest, rallies won't stop the massive cuts and prevent the con-libs dismantling the welfare state. Strikes only apply to public sector workers, and tend to be limited. Demos and petitions to government can just be ignored by government.
So what do we do next? I don't have answers, but the rally was enough of an inspiration to get me asking questions, and to meet people that I might be able to try and work through some of these questions. Join me?
If not you, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?