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9,000 Tooled Up and Ready for Action - and That's Just the Police
- Tense atmosphere as London 'celebrates' May Day

POLICE are set to heavily outnumber protesters in today's May Day demonstrations, lending weight to the theory that the forces of law and order are deliberately stoking up an increasingly tense atmosphere on London's streets.

6,000 police men and women are already on duty, many sporting Robocop-style helmets and armed with batons, specifically to deal with the protesters, who are reckoned to to number in the region of 7,000. But any sign of serious trouble will see Metropolitan Police bosses bring an extra 3,000 officers into play.

The balance of forces is further skewed in the police's favour by the fact the demonstrators are made up of several dozen small groups, each of which is set to conduct its march or event at different times throughout the day.

Already, up to 500 cyclists have biked en masse through central London, causing traffic snarl ups, but the days's biggest drama is expected in the late afternoon when demonstrators are set to head for Oxford Street.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, once the darling of the left, has upped the ante with calls for the police to seek the identity papers of demonstrators, a strange call from a man once associated with a campaign against police stop and search powers. "I would hope that attention will be paid, even before any trouble starts, to those attempting to conceal their identity," Livingstone said.

Amongst the range of issues being highlighted by today's events, the one that brings most campaigners together is globalisation. Some, like the anarchists who have attracted most of the frenzied media coverage, favour localism as a an alternative to global capitalism; others, such as the Socialist Alliance, which plans to stand over 100 candidates in next month's general election, draw their philosophy from Marxism.

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