Anti-war activists to stage budget demos

The Government will face a series of Budget day demonstrations today by groups opposed to public spending cuts and the war in Afghanistan.

Whitehall in central London will be the scene of protests throughout the day, with anti-war activists stepping up their campaign to have troops brought home from Afghanistan following yesterday's news of the 300th British casualty in the conflict.

The Stop The War Coalition and CND will protest in Parliament Square to highlight the escalating death rate and cost of the war.

Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop The War Coalition, said: "The tragic death of the 300th British soldier in Afghanistan marks another landmark in the war. More than 100 soldiers have been killed in less than a year.

"The war is growing more unpopular both in Britain and Afghanistan. The lives of the Afghan people are not being made better as a result of the conflict.

"The war and the consequent loss of life on all sides cannot be justified. Even in their own terms, the military are not succeeding.

"The news of the 300th soldier dying should lead to an immediate change of policy on Afghanistan and a decision to withdraw the troops and to end a war which has already cost tens of thousands of lives and billions of pounds."

CND leader Kate Hudson said: "The government is claiming a consensus for the need for massive cutbacks to our public services. None of the major parties are calling for serious cuts in the war budget, a measure that would be hugely popular.

"The current annual expenditure on Afghanistan is nearly £4 billion - enough to build 200 new secondary schools."

Right to work groups will stage demonstrations in dozens of towns and cities across the country, arguing against cuts in public services and jobs, including a protest opposite Downing Street.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union will stage a protest outside the Treasury, holding up cards to illustrate an estimated £120 billion in uncollected tax revenue which the union said should be tackled instead of cutting public spending.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The coalition Government's arbitrary timetable to cut the budget deficit is leading to the flawed reasoning that low-paid public servants should pay for a crisis caused by financial speculators.

"The recession, which followed an economic crash caused by failures in the banking sector, has already had a damaging effect on our communities.

"Driving down the living standards of low-paid workers, whether in the private or the public sector, will undoubtedly make this worse. It is also a disgrace that people receiving welfare benefits also look likely to be targeted."

Meltdown, the group which organised demonstrations against the G20 Summit in London last year, said it will hold a protest in Parliament Square just before Chancellor George Osborne stands up in the Commons to deliver his first Budget.