Thousands of people took to the streets of Greater Manchester on Sunday (1st October) where the annual Conservative Party Conference has commenced in the Central Convention Complex. GM Police Chief Superintendent John O’Hare estimated “Up to 30,000 people” had come into the city centre to take part in “various protests”.

One of the largest of these protests was a 1.4-mile march from the Museum of Science and Industry to Piccadilly Gardens, via the Central Convention Complex. Around 2,000 people were in the crowd, which was comprised mainly of Labour Party supporters as well as trade unionists, Liberal Democrats, Socialists and some Antifa. Members of Liverpool Labour Students also attended as part of the Red Bloc – a united show of socialism equipped with plain red flags – representing UoL in Manchester.

Photo Credit: Liverpool Labour Students

Key views represented by protesters included anti-austerity and anti-war (specifically Trident), workers’ rights, as well as pro-NHS and pro-EU sentiments, the latter being particularly pertinent to Lib Dem protesters. Manchester is a historically left-wing city, St. Peter’s Square being the sight of the Peterloo Massacre, an important event in British and Socialist history. Many Socialists present were outraged that the Conference was being held only a few yards away from this location.

As well as this, of the 27 constituencies within Greater Manchester, only four are held by the Conservatives, with the other 23 being Labour seats. With this kind of political climate in the city, it is unsurprising that political activists and residents alike turned out in such high numbers.

Photo Credit: Jake Costello

The protest was largely peaceful, with O’Hare reporting that “no arrests were made”, however in the hours following the march, Greater Manchester Police (@gmpolice) tweeted that three arrests had been made during the day. Organisers ensured the event was positive and inclusive with representatives in attendance to maintain the safety of those present and to accommodate elderly and disabled protesters as well as parents with children.

Most marchers were young people who kept the protest enjoyable and non-violent with music –  singalongs included David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ and GALA’s ‘Freed from Desire’ –  as well as chanting (‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ being a crowd favourite). There were also drum squads, singing groups and performers dotted all around the city centre. This paints a different picture of the left when compared to those who undertook the recent decoration of Salford Bridge, which was denounced by prominent Labour figures including Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and MP Angela Rayner. While some protesters, particularly Antifa, carried signs with similar violent themes, most led an impassioned, positive protest in typical Mancunian spirit.

Photo Credit: Katie Reilly-Laing

Cover Photo Credit: Jake Costello (Instagram: jcostello96).