Manchester march:

Mass protest at Tory conference

Thousands of people have attended an anti-austerity protest near the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester.

Organisers the TUC said the rally was  to highlight an “unfair” Trade Union Bill.

Union leaders and officials from campaign groups addressed a rally in the city centre before leading the procession.

Singer Billy Bragg warmed up the crowd with a set on stage, changing the lyrics to his best-known songs to add topical references such as “take the money from Trident and spend it on the NHS”.

Four arrests were made.

A conference delegate was hit by an egg as the demonstration made its way through the city centre.

The Conservative conference is under way, with 12,000 delegates expected to attend over the four days.

A so-called “ring of steel” has been built around the conference venue and the nearby Midland Hotel.

Many of those gathered held placards and chantrf slogans against the cuts. Some were pushing prams, others in wheelchairs.

A few hundred feet away from the site of the Conservative conference, the sound of whistles and horns fills the air.

These people are angry, passionate and determined to have their voice heard.

Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, told the rally the protest was “sending a very clear message” to the government that they faced a fightback.

Paul Novak, assistant general secretary of the TUC, said: “The government is driving through tens of billions of pounds worth of cuts to public services right across the country and at the same time trying to gag the ability of unions to protest and try to defend services.

“There are 6.5m working people in this country who are voluntarily members of unions.

“The government is trying to force through an anti-democratic bill that puts real limitations on the right to strike and people’s right to protest. We think that’s absolutely unfair.”

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