Police clash with protesters near Tory conference
Hundreds have marched through the centre of Manchester, calling for the Tories to be kicked out of power.
A stand-off between police and anti-Tory protesters near the Conservative Party conference has ended peacefully.
Smoke bombs were thrown and demonstrators, some wearing masks to hide their identity, chanted “Let us out!” after police refused to allow a van join the march route because it did not have security clearance.
About 25 police officers lined up to block the road and stood silently as the chants continued.
Police vans and mounted officers were later sent to Liverpool Road as the protesters refused to move, and a force helicopter hovered overhead.
The group was trying to join the People’s Assembly march as it made its way through the centre of Manchester.
After about an hour, police searched the van and allowed it to be driven off.
The tensions erupted as the march set off after a rally at Castlefield Arena.
Hundreds of protesters gathered to call for the Tories to be kicked out of power.
Waving placards and chanting “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”, the crowd took to the streets in protest at austerity.
Public and Commercial Services Union boss Mark Serwotka called for a general strike on public sector pay to “bring the Tories down”, saying Tory policies were “literally killing people”.
Conservative cuts to health and safety regulations preceded the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, he told the crowd.
“David Cameron told us he has slayed the health and safety monster, but we now know they slayed men and women and children as they slept in their houses,” he said.
The Communist Party said it was giving Theresa May “notice to pack her bags and quit” and claimed “mass action will drive the Government out”.
Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union boss Mick Cash said the “only way do that through that is through a general election”.
Stephen Pennells, 63, from Manchester, turned up dressed as International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
He said: “I’m here to draw attention to the fact the Government is having its strings pulled by big business.”
Chief Superintendent John O’Hare, who is leading the Greater Manchester Police operation for the conference, said up to 30,000 people took part in protests in the city centre.
“No arrests were made during the marches and this is a testament to those who attended and the organisers who took responsibility for the events and worked closely with us to ensure a safe and successful operation,” he said.
“There is still a major policing operation in place to ensure everyone coming in to Manchester can do so in a safe and enjoyable manner and take advantage of everything our city has to offer.”