Socialist Worker

Gordon Brown faces anti-war anger everywhere he goes

Issue No. 2053

Protesting in Bristol last Saturday (Pic: Jo Benefield)

Protesting in Bristol last Saturday (Pic: Jo Benefield)

Activists are bringing home the anger millions feel against the war on Iraq to Gordon Brown and the Labour deputy leadership contenders by organising protests at hustings meetings around the country.

“In Bristol around 40 people, mainly anti-war activists, lobbied the Labour Party hustings last Saturday,” said Jo Benefield.

“Inside there were around 250 Labour Party members and trade unionists from across the whole of the south west of England.

“The choice of venue – an isolated site outside the city – reduced the numbers attending and the possibilities of lobbyists talking to those going in.

“Despite this around 40 of those attending signed the Stop the War Coalition’s open letter to Gordon Brown calling for the troops to be brought home from Iraq and a change of foreign policy.”

A Unison union member who attended the hustings told Socialist Worker, “All the deputy leadership candidates spoke left on issues such as workers’ and migrants’ rights and the importance of council housing.

“Jon Cruddas scored some points on the other deputy leadership candidates by asking why, if they agreed with left policies on these questions, they had not done anything about them while they were ministers.

“Gordon Brown swept in during the afternoon and was forced to admit that Iraq had been ‘divisive’.”

More than 100 noisy demonstrators lobbied the Sheffield hustings event last Sunday.

Jan Wilson, the leader of Sheffield council, confronted Gordon Brown over Iraq inside the event.

She said, “There’s a great big shadow whose word has not been mentioned here today, and you must tell us how you’re going to tackle the way people feel about the Iraq situation.”

The pouring rain could not dampen the spirits of the protest called by Sheffield Stop the War Coalition outside the Sheffield United football ground.

Brown also faced an angry protest from workers at Remploy, who are fighting massive factory closures.

In a street meeting organised by Stop the War while the demo continued, a Remploy GMB union shop steward, and Labour Party member, got a huge cheer when he said, “Sack the board. And bring the troops home.”

Other speakers included trade union officers and a former Labour Party member who had left over the Iraq war.

There was also a good response from Labour Party members attending the event on Sunday morning.

“Around 30 Labour Party members going to the hustings signed the Stop the War petition,” said Phil Turner from Sheffield Stop the War Coalition.

“We believe the protest will give us the momentum to build a large Sheffield contingent on the Manchester demo on 24 June.”

Unison union members working at the Greater London Authority organised a highly successful workplace Stop the War meeting on Friday of last week.

“Around 40 people came to a lunchtime meeteing to hear Kate Hudson of CND and George Solomou of Military Families Against the War,” said a Unison member.

“We discussed attending the Manchester protest.”

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Tue 29 May 2007, 18:53 BST
Issue No. 2053
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