50,000 march against austerity cuts

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Around 50,000 people marched through Manchester in a union protest against austerity cuts on the opening day of the Conservative Party conference.

The aim of the protest was to highlight the impact of Government policies on jobs and spending across the health service, as well as the “rapid sell-off” of the most lucrative parts of the NHS to private healthcare companies, organisers said.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the protest – said to be the largest ever dealt with by the force – had passed off peacefully in the most part, with just two arrests for breaches of the peace.

After the march a rally was held where union leaders, politicians, celebrities and NHS workers addressed the crowd. Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham addressed the rally, calling it an “unbelievable show of action for the best health service in the world”.

He said it was an “incredible message of solidarity” to health service staff who were “under attack” from the Government.

At one point the protest march was over a mile long as it snaked through the city centre.