This weekend we have seen peaceful demonstration derailed by a small number of hooligans who for some reasons had their own hidden agenda by willfully smashing up business places windows and attacking police & stewards who are there to protect us.
The peaceful march continued as planed by the TUC.
A quarter of a million people are expected to take to the streets of London today to protest against the cuts – so will the Government be worried?
On the whole, probably not.
No government wants to see widespread opposition to its plans or have protests dominate the news agenda.
But David Cameron and George Osborne always expected there to be anger when they began to put their deficit reduction strategy into place.
They know they may well lose the popularity battle in 2011 but that this won’t matter if they win the war – the 2015 General Election.
This is why so many changes were announced so swiftly after the coalition took power. Ministers knew they had to get started if they wanted to turn things around within five years.
They hope by the time the next election rolls round voters will feel the benefits of a restructured economy rather than just the pain of the process.
Perhaps “people power” will be enough to change Osborne’s policies – but he’s not given any hint whatsoever that he’s willing to stray from his plan and reaffirmed this in the Budget just days ago.
Their line of attack today is that it is futile to stage a “march for the alternative” when the Unions and the Labour Party have barely set out what that alternative should be.
And this is primarily aimed at Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, who supports the event.
I’m told he’ll be talking but not walking – his team think it is more appropriate for the leader of the opposition to give a speech at the rally rather than wave a placard from the crowd.
He’s called today a “march of the mainstream” and joins the unions in insisting this isn’t a demo by a handful of people with vested interests, instead, it has attracted not just a broad selection of public sector workers but a significant number of people who use these services and believe they’ll be harmed by the Government’s approach.
The YouGov/ TUC poll backs this up to an extent, as it shows 52% back the aims of the march, versus 31% who don’t.
But according to the survey, its not just Labour supporters who agree with it. The figures suggest 40% of Liberal Democrats and 19% of Conservatives do too.
This is why the Government may have an uphill struggle to turn it around in the next four years.
While economic indicators will probably be the most important factors (if growth steadily improves and unemployment falls, Osborne will say his plan has worked) the government parties will have to win over some of these people if they’re going to do well at the next election.
Arguably it was the Conservatives’ failure to convince enough people that the public services were safe in their hands that robbed them of the majority they hoped for in 2010.
If they want one in 2015, they’ll not only have to retain the 19% of Tory voters who agree with the aims of the march, they’ll have to secure the support of thousands more people who are currently sceptical about Osborne’s economic Plan A.
As a result, I expect we’ll hear a lot of Conservative criticism of the unions and Labour but it won’t be targeted at the (law-abiding) people who take part today.