British papers disappointed at cuts demo violence

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British newspapers expressed disappointment on Sunday that the biggest protest in London since the 2003 demonstration against the Iraq war was overshadowed by the violence that erupted afterwards.

More than a quarter of a million Britons marched peacefully through the capital to protest government austerity cuts on Saturday, but a group of demonstrators later went on the rampage, casting a blight on proceedings.

They hurled fireworks and paint at police, attacked shops and the iconic Ritz Hotel, as well as occupying luxury food store Fortnum and Mason.

The leftwing Observer weekly regretted that "the generally good-natured mood was soured by violent and destructive attacks on symbols of wealth including the Ritz, banks and a luxury car dealers."

The Independent on Sunday asked: "Should we allow the violence of a tiny minority to detract from Britain's biggest demonstration in eight years?"

"Ritzkrieg," screamed the front page of the rightwing Mail on Sunday, above a picture of black-clad, masked rioters hurling metal tables at the windows of the hotel.

The Sunday Express feared the violence did not bode well for next month's wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, which will see huge crowds on the streets of the British capital.

"Violence at march sparks new fears for Royal Wedding," it warned.

"Is this what April 29 will be like?"

Some tried to focus on the march itself, which the Independent on Sunday said was "a warning that the coalition parties will pay the ultimate price that can be exacted in a democracy if they do not ensure that the burden is more equitably borne."

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, which came to power last May, has introduced stinging public sector cuts to tackle a record deficit.

© 2011 AFP

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