The “Britain is Broken” protest, held along the Embankment on Saturday afternoon, was organised by The People’s Assembly with the support of Just Stop Oil. Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell were among the crowds.
Demonstrators marched in the rain from Embankment to Trafalgar Square, where a rally was held with speakers including Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).
The People’s Assembly said protesters are demanding an immediate general election, action on low pay and the repeal of “anti-union” employment laws.
General Secretary Laura Pidcock, a former Labour MP, said the march was to “oppose everything this Government stand for, in our communities and on the street”.
“Coming out of the Covid pandemic, we’ve seen attacks on workers’ pay and conditions, political meltdown, an unprecedented cost of living crisis and the emergence of a huge fightback from unionised workers, including a wave of strikes engulfing the country over the summer,” she said.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Government will be “forced to listen” to protesters like those in the People’s Assembly calling for improved pay and workers’ rights.
“Governments do eventually listen because of popular movements,” he said.
“The people out here are very determined...they’re not going to see growing impoverishment in our society.”
Michelle Uden brought her seven-year-old twin boys to the demonstration and said she wanted a change in leadership after struggling with the cost of living.
The 34-year-old, who cares for her husband who has epilepsy at their home in New Eltham, south-east London, told the PA news agency: “Enough is enough.
“If we don’t stand up and fight we’ll sit down and cry. We want to get rid of Rishi Sunak, we want more funding for the NHS, we want that to stop being privatised.
“We want the Tories out – it’s the only way to get change.”
Also at the protest was retired nurse Claire Dawson, 66, who said she is “absolutely sick” of the current Government, and she joined the People’s Assembly protest because she felt it is “important for the whole country to see that there is opposition”.
Ms Dawson, from Crouch End in north London and was holding a placard calling for a general election, said: “I think the poor are suffering so much and I just feel that they seem to be able to go from one Prime Minister to another without any kind of democracy.
“I think the only way it will happen is if (Rishi) Sunak is pushed out. This Government aren’t going to go unless they’re really really pushed.“
A group of Just Stop Oil protestors are moving through central London and there are police officers present monitoring this activity.
The group have temporarily sat down in the carriageway at Trafalgar Square but have now moved on following police intervention.
— Metropolitan Police Events (@MetPoliceEvents) November 5, 2022
Police were preparing for massive protests across the weekend in London with extra officers brought in.
On Saturday, it said officers were “monitoring activity”.
Commander Jon Savell said, before the weekend: “The Met has a long history of dealing with spontaneous protests in London. We have a very experienced policing team in place as well as robust policing measures; we can respond effectively and quickly to any emerging public order incidents.
“We fully support peaceful protest and will always try to work with organisers so that protests can go ahead safely.
“However, unlike many groups who carry out protests, Million Mask March and Just Stop Oil do not engage with us in advance of their action.
Police said that, since October 2, officers have arrested 677 Just Stop Oil protesters, 111 of whom have been charged.