Whitehall, early afternoon, and a sprinkling of Unison activists wander along dragging their placards behind them. Their badges identified which 'cut' they were campaigning against. Prisons, NHS, schools, meals on wheels services and home care were causes those marching today were backing. Every one of them looked a reasonable sort - a bit like you or I - and a welcome relief from the usual depressingly partisan outlook of the unions.
I imagine there were lots amongst the march who were there purely out of spite, recognising an opportunity to vent their hatred towards the Tories. My rather forlorn lot making their way via Charing Cross to the South London suburbs, or from Waterloo to Surrey or the south coast, or from one of the north London stations to Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Peterborough or further north were there fighting for something they believe deserves to be protected.
These union sponsored types might be more likely to march and lobby their MPs, but all over the country there are small groups forming to 'Stop the Cuts' or 'Save our School'. Even at Conservative Party conference there were Conservatives backed by ad-vans, posters and a belief they were fighting for what's right (mostly spending on defence) taking their leadership to task on cuts.
They share a belief with the marchers that these services really do matter - they make people's lives better - but also they feel a sense of injustice. It may even be the case that these individuals jobs are at risk. Some believe public services are the glue that binds our country together, others may want one small local service they rely on to keep on going. Whatever they believe, whatever the reason they march, they can never be truly happy until something is done to reduce the hold the welfare culture has on so many in Britain today.
Spending on welfare, a figure the Conservatives used recently, has risen 40 per cent in ten years. Wow. It has risen 32 per cent since 1997. Still a wow. But spending on the welfare state has, apart from a few odd years, always increased as this article explains.
The challenge for the Government is how to buck this trend; how to change an accepted norm. The challenge is to find a way to shake up the system, in individual cases maybe give them a good shake (or kick up the backside), in other cases an arm around the shoulder. Only then will we reduce the number of people on out of work benefits from five million. That is five million who rely on money from the taxpayer to live their lives. Five million who cannot or do not add to the wealth of the country. Amongst those five million will be many terrible tales of sadness and wasted talent.
This country is in a mess. There is a huge gulf between those who fight for what they believe in - to protect what is precious to them whether a school, our armed forces or their job - and those who are unable or unwilling to show any fight at all. Until we have a society that rewards the fighters, makes battlers not whingers, motivates instead of mollycoddles and is firm but fair, the number of people feeling a sense of injustice is going to grow.