London braced for day of protest that could attract up to 250,000

Protesters from Aberystwyth to Aberdeen and from Penzance to Perth will travel to central London today for the biggest demonstration in Britain since the anti-Iraq war marches eight years ago.

Up to 250,000 people will take to the capital's streets to condemn the Coalition Government's programme of cuts.

The "March for the Alternative" has been organised by the TUC, but trade union activists will be joined by members of voluntary and community groups, churches and other religious organisations, as well as students protesting against tuition fee rises. Their numbers will be swelled by nurses, doctors, midwives and off-duty police officers angry about the cuts.

Eight hundred coaches and 10 special trains will bring the demonstrators to London, along with one man who has spent the week walking from Cardiff. More than 4,500 police officers and 1,000 stewards will marshal them on their three-mile route from the Embankment to Hyde Park, via Trafalgar Square.

Scotland Yard and the TUC have planned the demonstration and representatives from Liberty will monitor policing both on the ground and from Metropolitan Police headquarters. Officers have been accused of adopting strong-arm tactics in previous marches by resorting to the "kettling" of protesters – penning them in a confined space, sometimes for hours.

But the greatest worry for organisers is that the event will be hijacked by groups of anarchists and anti-capitalists intent on causing trouble. Police, who have been monitoring such groups on the internet, have advised shops and businesses along the route to ensure their doors are secure and their CCTV cameras are working.

The group UK Uncut is targeting banks and shops in Oxford Street and plans a "mass occupation of a top-secret target". Other activists are said to be planning to stop traffic with "flash mobs".

Andy Hayman, the former Assistant Commissioner of the Met, said: "There is strong intelligence extremist groups are planning illegal acts of violence...with the sole aim of disrupting a well-intended peaceful protest." Writing for the Policy Exchange think-tank, he said: "Unless the police become more proactive in disrupting the activists before the event, it will be impossible to ever stage a protest without it being infiltrated by extremist groups."

A TUC spokesman said: "We are aware of other stuff taking place. But we're very confident our event will be a peaceful, family event."

The rally in Hyde Park will be addressed by trade union chiefs and the Labour leader Ed Miliband, as well as non-political members of the public opposed to the cuts. They will argue that ministers are cutting too fast and too deep, jeopardising hundreds of thousands of jobs and hitting services.

Mr Miliband will tell the demonstrators they represent mainstream opinion in Britain, charging David Cameron and Nick Clegg with practising the "politics of division" by pushing through ideological Thatcher-style cuts.

"They're saying people in the public sector and people in the private sector should somehow be at odds," Mr Miliband will argue. "They're saying people on benefits should be resented by those in work. They're saying we should set North against South. We can't go back to that."

The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, who is overseeing the movement's largest demonstration for 25 years, challenged ministers to heed the protests and alter their "damaging" policies, which threaten more than 170,000 job losses in local government and another 50,000 across the public sector. He said: "The objective is to send a strong message to the Government through our unity and a huge turn-out. I want nothing to distract from that."

The Conservative MP Greg Hands said: "Mr Miliband and Mr Barber have a duty to ensure their march does not become a focus for disorder and law-breaking."

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on