ANTI-AUSTERITY campaigners will stage a panda parade tomorrow to welcome David Cameron and the Tory faithful to Edinburgh.
The Prime Minister will be in town to address the Scottish Conservative conference, which is being held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre over the weekend.
But protesters will don panda outfits to remind Mr Cameron and his followers that there are more pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs. In fact, Edinburgh Zoo’s Tian Tian and Yang Guang outnumber David Mundell by two to one.
Demo organiser Willie Black said the campaigners would also be armed with zoo signs. He said: “We will be making the point that Tories are an endangered species in Scotland – but they are also dangerous and we don’t want them to be fed.”
The panda parade is just the first of a series of protests timed to coincide with the Tory gathering. On Saturday, more than 1000 people are expected to take part in a march and rally backed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress, anti-bedroom tax groups, disability campaigners and others.
And on Sunday, an “alternative” conference will debate issues from cuts to independence under the banner “Another world is possible”.
The Scottish Conservatives chose to hold their annual gathering in Edinburgh this year to give them maximum publicity in the run-up to the independence referendum.
In his foreword to the conference programme, Mr Cameron writes: “In just six months’ time people in Scotland will decide whether or not to walk away from the United Kingdom. This is a decision for Scotland to take, but which will reverberate throughout our country. The UK works and it works well; don’t let the nationalists wreck it.” But Mr Black said UK Government austerity policies were making ordinary Scots pay for an economic crisis they did not create.
He said: “If we’re all in it together, how is it massive bonuses are still being paid to bankers despite them making huge losses?
“Through our actions over the weekend we want to give the opportunity for as many bottom-up organisations to have their say and show their anger at the Tories.
“And we want to see if there is a way we can all work together to challenge the whole idea of austerity.”
Saturday’s demo will see protesters assemble at The Mound at 11am, with the march moving off at 11.30am and going up the High Street towards the Castle, then down Johnstone Terrace and via West Port and Semple Street to Lothian Road and Festival Square, where there will be a rally. Speakers will include Labour frontbenchers Neil Findlay and Jackie Baillie and human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar.
Ian Swanson – Page 24