Socialist Worker

100,000 protest against the war

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2040

Up to 100,000 joined the London anti-war march last Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Up to 100,000 joined the London anti-war march last Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A huge demonstration filled the streets of central London last Saturday calling for all occupying troops to be withdrawn from Iraq, no replacement of Britain’s nuclear weapons system, and no attack on Iran.

Up to 100,000 people joined the protest, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, CND and the British Muslim Initiative. The march once again showed the depth, breadth and vibrancy of the anti-war movement.

Meanwhile, 4,000 people joined an anti-war and anti-Trident “Bin the Bomb” march in Glasgow.

These protests will lead into the People’s Assembly, scheduled for 20 March. And demonstrators heard calls for immediate and militant protests if there is an attack on Iran.

Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, told marchers in London, “Tony Blair says the war on Iraq is not his fault. He took us into war on lies. He is responsible for the death of 655,000 Iraqis.

“Blair wants to site the Star Wars US nuclear defence system here. He wants to spend money on Trident, not on hospitals and schools.

“Blair had to announce the withdrawal of 1,500 troops from Iraq this week. Our movement made him announce that.

Iran

“They want to send extra troops to Afghanistan. We want the troops home from there too.

“We are fed up with a government that is addicted to war. This war is spreading from, Afghanistan to Iraq, Somalia and Lebanon. Now they want to attack Iran.

“If they do we will be on the streets in even greater numbers. We will demonstrate, strike and take action until all these wars are at an end.”

Respect MP George Galloway said, “Tony Blair must go now before he does any more damage. Not content with the death and destruction he has caused all over the world, he is planning with Israel and George Bush another war against a Muslim country – Iran.

“I warn him that there will be riots in Britain if he takes us into that war.”

John McDonnell MP, the left wing challenger for the Labour leadership, told the marchers, “This tremendous demonstration shows the anger of the British people.

“We want a peace prime minister, not a warmonger in 10 Downing Street.”

Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, said, “London is proud to have this demonstration here today. The overwhelming majority of its population oppose war and the next generation of nuclear weapons.

“A new world is being formed of people who don’t accept the US’s agenda.”

Solidarity was brought to the marchers from Judith LeBlanc, the co-chair of the US United for Peace and Justice.

She said, “The majority of American people want the war to end. There’s no way forward for the people of the world without ending this war.”

Augusto Montiel, a Venezuelan MP, told marchers, “I bring an embrace of friendship to the whole British people from president Hugo Chavez.

“Hugo Chavez has given us hope. I see hope in the faces of people here.

“We need peace, solidarity and cooperation for everyone around the world.”

As usual the police pumped out misinformation about the march numbers.

Early on Saturday afternoon they stated that 2?3,000 were on the march.

This was later upped to 10,000, a figure widely

quoted on television and in the Sunday press.

After complaints from the demonstration organisers, the police upped their estimate to 20,000 – still a gross underestimate.


Marchers’ fury at Bush and Blair

The anti-war movement is growing rather than waning. Protesters in London reflected the deep feeling over Iraq and other issues.

Mike, a member of the Ucatt builders’ union, said “I am really angry watching the news about the Middle East.

“We have done nothing but harm there, yet they want to go on and attack Iran.

“I am totally disillusioned with Tony Blair.

“What is crazy is that he believes that what he is doing is right.”

Susan, a pensioner from Cambridge, said, “I think of the children they are going to bomb in Iran and the ones they have already killed in Iraq and it makes me furious.

“Blair seems out of control. It was really important to protest today.”

Beth, a student who is a member of CND, said, “I think that one innocent death is one too many.”

Pat, a school student from London, said, “I had been sitting back and watching.

“I really wanted to demonstrate because Blair doesn’t listen. He is like a dictator.”


War What Is It Good For single

Thousands of marchers downloaded the spoof Tony Blair record for peace “War What Is It Good For”.

At the start of this week it was heading up the charts. You can help it rise higher and win publicity for the anti-war movement.

If you have a mobile phone, just text PEACE1 to 78789.

You will be charged £1.50 and sent a text explaining how you will get Tony’s peace record or buy online at www.stopwar.org.uk

All profits go to the Stop the War Coalition.


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