400 March Against The Library Cuts
September 22nd 2013
Waiting to set off
The rally in City Square
BubblesIt was fantastic to see so many kids on the march, many of them wearing the costumes of their favourite literary characters. I saw witches and worst witches, a Peter Pan, Fantastic Mister Fox, Tigger, Harry Potter, and many more. They made a great effort, and it's heartening to see young people with such a love of books.
A lot of people were blowing bubbles, and there was also a bubble machine going at the front of the procession. This was to mark the 32,500 or so young people who will be without access to a good library if these cuts go ahead.
The rallyAt the end of the route we had several speeches, although I don't have a full list of all the speakers. John Hough, the county councillor who leads the Labour group, urged everyone to carry on campaigning until the end of the consultation process on 30th September, and beyond if necessary. Gavyn Graham of Unison spoke out about the cuts, and the author William Hussey spoke to condemn the flawed consultation process.
David's SpeechDavid Hall stood up to give a short speech to the crowd, which I wrote and then generously made him deliver. Since my video of it is cut off in the wrong places, and full of shakycam and me shouting over the end, I'm posting a transcript below. I'd like you to imagine this speech in the voice of Tom Hiddleston, dressed as Galadriel. That isn't remotely how it went down, I'd just like you to imagine it.
"When I was young I adored the magic world of books: the Faraway Tree and Pern, the charm of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, and the sheer unadulterated terror of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Back then I considered these worlds to be the greatest kind of escapism. It wasn't until I was older that I realised, in spite of all the fairies, trolls, and dragons, the authors were really writing about us.
Which brings me to Tolkien, one of the 20th century's most beloved authors. When he wrote The Lord of the Rings he didn't choose a mighty warrior to be the centre of his story. Nor did he choose Gandalf, the wise and powerful, to carry the cursed ring. No, when it came to banishing Sauron's evil he chose one little hobbit.
Tolkien was writing after the second world war, when this country had been fighting a different kind of evil. He wanted to make the point that anybody, no matter how ordinary, how small, or how poor, could make a vital difference in the fight against evil. That everyone's contribution counted for something.
It's a lesson that will be lost to many if these cuts go through. When the Nine meet to decide the fate of our libraries I want you to remember that all it took was the work of one little hobbit to change everything. So, people of the 'Shire, don't let anyone say to you, "The budget has already been set; you have no power to change things". You're the only ones who have the power. These cuts shall not pass!"
Stephen PalmerLincolnshire Independent Councillor Stephen Palmer spoke just after David, and I think he was a bit miffed because we stole his Tolkien theme. But it didn't matter, because as you can see from the clip below his speech was still well received.
It remains to be seen whether Tory councillors such as Martin Hill and Nick Worth who are leading this assault on front-line library services will listen to people, or whether they will remain out of touch. What I was struck by on this march is the range of people who were willing to come out and protest. This isn't just a Labour party campaign. There were young and old, people of all party affiliations and none, authors, readers, and people from all the districts of Lincolnshire.
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