Saturday was quite a day. I marched with 35,000 people, a number beyond all our expectations, particularly with a weather forecast of sleet. Saturday was all about vast numbers of people with divergent views agreeing that now is the time for change.
In the past week, there has been a media frenzy about 'violent clashes' between protesters and the police, but I was in no doubt that the Put People First demonstration would be a peaceful affair and so it proved to be. I was at the front of the march with my daughter, and with representatives from unions, other anti-poverty organisations, green groups and faith leaders, we called on G20 leaders to take action on jobs, to stop climate chaos and to fight poverty and injustice throughout the world.
As I looked back at the thousands of protestors on Saturday, I could see all the colours of the rainbow represented in the banners, flags and placards. It was an inspiring sight. So broad was the alliance in support of Put People First, that the demonstration brought together supporters of more than 150 organisations, as well as people who are not aligned to any group but are simply angry with the unfairness of the prevailing system. This was unprecedented, but then we are living in an unprecedented time, when the future of the global economy really is up for grabs.
Some commentators have chosen to trot out a predictable accusation that our alliance is so broad that it cannot possibly be effective and that our demands are too woolly. But this is simply not so and our policies can be easily scrutinised.
Our message to the G20 is clear: you must make a fundamental break with the economic system that has brought the global economy to its knees with a crashing thud and is leading us into runaway climate change. This is a unique opportunity to make a break from the past and to help create a world which is fairer and greener.
In my view, the government's rhetoric coming through in the media on a number of areas, such as an over reliance on the IMF and free trade to alleviate poverty and inequality is worrying and is casting a shadow of doubt over what can really be achieved at the G20 that will benefit the world’s poorest people.
It’s our job to make sure that these dark shadows are rolled back and that we push for much more that will bring justice for the world’s poor. We did this on Saturday, along with 35,000 other people; it’s now up to the G20 leaders on Thursday to show us they mean it when they say they are listening, and to act to make the global economy work for us and the environment, not the other way round.