What a day! Sun shines on huge People’s Vote March

It’s been a wee while since so many people have taken to the streets of London to protest. The BBC reports estimates of a 700,000 crowd demanding a People’s Vote in unseasonably brilliant sunshine.

I’m not going to lie. Being in a space where I could see nobody but Lib Dems wherever I looked was pretty cool.

My day had started at 4:45 when my alarm went off. I boarded my flight at 6:15. The pilot then announced that due to forecast fog at Gatwick we wouldn’t be taking off for another hour and 45 minutes. But it might be earlier. It was actually much later.

Fortunately I was not bored. A text alerted me to the presence of Craig Harrow, the former Scottish Party Convener so we spent an amusing three hours talking about you all and solving the party’s problems in their entirety. If only they would listen to us.

I had a saunter round Borough Market with a friend – buying some gorgeous cakes and breakfasting on generous German custard doughnut on the way.

We jumped on a random tube at London Bridge to find Lucy Salek and a contingent from Lewisham Lib Dems.

By the time we had got to Wellington Arch, the assembly point for Lib Dems we were part of a pretty massive crowd.

A host of the Great and the Good spoke – Vince told us we would win this and we had to keep on demanding a People’s Vote, Tom Brake described his casual dress and EU beret as “revolutionary attire.” Ed Davey proved that leading chants at protests was not in the top end of his skill set.

Lisa Smart from Hazel Grove joked she was speaking to get a northern accent on the video. Amna Ahmad, Sarah Ludford, Caroline Pidgeon, Ian Kearns (a powerful speaker who joined us from Labour in June, all spoke about why Brexit was a disaster and how a People’s Vote was the only way to fix it.

President Sal Brinton was there but I am not sure she got the sign for “Bollocks to Brexit right. She went out of her way to thank all the members around the country for campaigning so hard to stop Brexit.

Then little Gabriel turned up. At just 3.5 months, this was his second protest march. He was wide awake but completely chilled about what was going on. His big brother Andrew looked on and was able to sample some Brexit fudge. The boys lasted till the end of the march too. Their Mum, Jo Swinson told us to keep going.

We were hanging about for ages to join the main march. Progress was slow as huge crowds overwhelmed the streets.

At one point, I walked within a few feet of Jarvis Cocker and completely failed to recognise him.

There were some people who couldn’t be there. I was marching not just for me and my family but for an old friend, Chris Forrester, a lovely lady without whose kindness I would not have survived university. Her opposition to Brexit is legendary but illness prevented her coming today. Someone had embroidered her name on a placard.

If you know of someone who would have been there and couldn’t or if that applies to you, let us know in the comments because you were with us in spirit and you shall be counted in our number.

It was all incredibly good natured. Thanks so much to all the readers of LDV who said hello. It is lovely to meet you and to know who is reading and contributing to the site.

It took pretty much four hours to get to Whitehall. Apparently the end of the march hadn’t even left Hyde Park.

Let’s hope today is the day that we really started to win the arguments not just for a People’s Vote but to stay in the European Union which has benefitted us so much.

There were some Good Dogs too

So I am now on a long train home. The 17:30 from King’s Cross to Edinburgh really ought to be called the Bollocks to Brexit Express as there are so many of us on it.

However, Saturday night is not without its trials. The drunk young men singing a few streets away are trying my patience a bit.

I have stacks of video but that is more than LNER WiFi or my data can cope with.

I will get home about 17 hours after I left but I am so glad I went. It was brilliant to be part of something so bright, positive and, I hope, game-changing.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Barry Lofty 20th Oct '18 - 7:50pm

    So glad there was such a great turnout and the weather was on our side also!
    My wife and I were with you in spirit if not in body, age and a lack of mobility prevented us from attending personally. Safe journey home Caron and every else who attended.

  • Great to see so many LibDems there. Many more of were there in spirit but couldn’t get to London. I’m sure there will be some who use this thread to be negative but the facts are that this party has always been strongly pro-EU, we were the first to call for a vote on the deal, and our conference has strongly endorsed that position. After today the momentum is with us. Let’s all get out and make it happen.

  • Rhiannon Leaman 20th Oct '18 - 10:47pm

    Thanks so much for making the trip down, Caron – and thanks to all LDV readers too. What a great day! We made our voices heard today… even if some of us could do with some chant practice 🙂

  • Liberal Neil 20th Oct '18 - 11:21pm

    It was a great day and, as you say, lovely to keep bumping into Lib Dems from all across the country.

    Whether we win or not, just like the Iraq march, at least we can say we did our best to stop the madness.

  • There were lots of Lib Dems elsewhere in the march too e.g. at least three members in our group from Salisbury for Europe (which covered quite a wide area of Wiltshire and Dorset).

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 21st Oct '18 - 12:03am

    @Rhiannon – it was clear that you were born to lead chants, as well as organise Exit from Brexit campaigns:-).

  • Venetia Caine 21st Oct '18 - 4:56am

    Three of us from Somerset, LibDems all, travelled independently, and I know there were more with other groups. So many there, we couldn’t get nearer than Trafalgar Square, so had a cup of tea in the National Gallery cafe, and went down to Parliament Square after it was all over. What a brilliant day!

  • Cass Macdonald 21st Oct '18 - 7:58am

    Alas, I could not be there due to pain and other issues, but I spotted the ITV live feed over Marble Arch before the march kicked off and all you could see was people and more people walking to join them. Absolutely incredible. So proud of to be part of the Lib Dems, even if I was unable to be among you!

  • William Fowler 21st Oct '18 - 8:46am

    News report started out at 700k people but by the end of the day they were saying over 500k… only to settle at 670k today. A lot of people, any way. Only annoying thing was a red banner saying stop the Tory Brexit when it is really parliament’s Brexit all signed and sealed by both Labour and Conservatives (in the legal sense of getting out of the EU in March) and there are equal numbers of dissenting Conservative and Labour MPs who want to stay in the EU (probably including Mrs May if she was ever honest with herself).

    Anyway, if LibDems are going to reform themselves as a centrist (albeit radical centrist) party maybe calling themselves the People’s Party would give them a nice reboot. Just a thought.

  • Philip Knowles 21st Oct '18 - 9:45am

    I couldn’t go because of a meeting I had to attend so I donated the £25 the coach would have cost to the campaign.
    It would be great if anyone else who wanted to be there but couldn’t would do the same.
    Nigel Farage’s trip to Remain voting Harrogate shows the state of the Leave means Leave campaign but they have heavy financil backing and, in the end, money will make a difference.

  • A great day and wonderful to be there. All the better for seeing old friends.

  • I was hoping for more than 100,00 but as soon as I got to Euston it was clear this would be a BIG march. Was anyone expecting that number to come? I was with Jane Dodds and others from Montgomeryshire. Nearly made it to Parliament Square but ground to a halt near Downing Street when there was no room to move forward. I see that one of the papers is reporting that officials are making contingency plans for a referendum, just in case. Let’s hope it happens.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Oct '18 - 12:06pm

    apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
    One placard said “What has the EU ever done for us?” The answer is a bit long for a slogan, but needs to be prominent in the campaign which must follow a genuinely meaningful vote in parliament. Dominic Raab’s idea of a meaningful vote on the Andrew Marr show is a travesty. Remaining in the EU must be an option.

  • Liberal Neil 21st Oct '18 - 12:06pm

    Barry – the numbers were way above what the organisers or anyone else expected.

  • Sue Sutherland 21st Oct '18 - 12:52pm

    Channel 4 news made a comment that it was the largest ever protest march that Jeremy Corbyn hadn’t been on!

  • Tony Greaves 21st Oct '18 - 7:14pm

    A good day out (sorry to miss you, Caron). But the fact that the “organisers” were apparently astonished by the numbers turning up (and my guess is that with all the hangers-on it was probably close to a million) just shows how out of touch they really are, stuck as they are in the day-to-day Westminster and national media based bubble.

    But a wonderful day out in the London sun, for all that. And so many people just did their own thing, enjoying the atmosphere. (But not the physical atmosphere perhaps – I had lunch next to Norman Lamont on Friday – don’t ask – and he asked why I was still in London. He said he hoped I would enjoy the “fresh air”. I reminded him it was happening in London.)

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