|Demonstrators take part in an anti-austerity protest march|
through central London on October 20.
Unions, anti-war campaigners, left-wing leaders, community groups and other activists poured down London's streets in a demonstration against reductions to public sector spending which officials are pushing through in order to rein in the Britain's debt, which stands at more than 1 trillion pounds ($1.7 trillion).
Although the austerity program has had some modest successes - the country's deficit has dropped slightly - the UK economy has shrunk for three consecutive quarters amid cuts at home and economic turmoil on the continent.
Brendan Barber, whose Trades Union Congress helped organize the march, said the message of Saturday's protest was that "austerity is simply failing."
"The government is making life desperately hard for millions of people because of pay cuts for workers, while the rich are given tax cuts," he said.
Britain borrowed 13 billion pounds in September alone, and with other European countries - including next door neighbor Ireland - struggling to make good on their debt, and there is a general consensus that the UK budget needs to be rebalanced.
The protesters urged the Conservative-Liberal coalition government to come to realise that its austerityprescription for the recession-hit country had failed.
They argued that spending cuts are hitting jobs, services and living standards, and called for a new approach which puts the focus on growth and an economy that works.
"Ministers told us that if we only accepted the pain, recovery would come," Barber said. "Instead we have been mired in a double dip recession."
Similar protests were also held in Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital, and Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city.