Thousands to march for jobs

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The Independent Online
AT LEAST 100,000 people are expected at the TUC's 'march for jobs' today as the labour movement seeks to broaden the public's anger over pit closures into blanket opposition to government economic policies.

By yesterday, more than 400 coaches had been chartered in the North-west of England alone and special trains will be arriving at most of London's main-line terminals this morning.

Invitations to leading Conservatives to speak at a rally in Hyde Park have been turned down, but Michael Clark, a Tory MP and former chairman of the House of Commons energy committee, will send a message of support.

John Smith, the Labour leader, will share a platform with Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democrats, Arthur Scargill, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, and Roland Long, an industrialist and member of the CBI's council.

Much of central London will be closed to traffic as the march, led by 25 Yorkshire miners bearing a banner reading 'Britain can't work without jobs', moves from the Embankment to Hyde Park.

Although the police presence at the march will be light, reserves with riot gear will be held nearby.

The TUC has promised that the demonstration will be 'heavily stewarded'. March organisers want to ensure that far-left groups such as Class War will be marginalised.

Norman Willis, the TUC general secretary, believes today's demonstration will attract more people than last Wednesday's mass lobby of parliament, which was focused to a greater extent on the imminent closure of 10 collieries.

Mr Willis and a group of miners gave out pamphlets yesterday at the Rugby League World Cup final at Wembley between Australia and the Great Britain team, whose sponsor is British Coal.

'The coal closures burst the dam of public opinion, but there was huge pressure behind the dam to start with,' Mr Willis said.

Today's march will begin to assemble at about 11 am near the Embankment tube station. It will then move up Northumberland Avenue, through Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park, where speeches are due to begin at 2pm.