Support is growing for next weekend’s anti-war demonstration outside the Labour Party conference in Manchester.
Students and trade unionists from across the country will be travelling to make their protest.
“The spread of the war to the Caucasus, the threat to Iran and the continuing chaos in Iraq makes it vital we get to Manchester,” says Paul Belina from Aberdeen university.
He is among those building a Stop the War group on campus, using the demo as a launch pad to bring activists together.
Last week some 400 people crammed into a Stop the War Coalition meeting in Vauxhall, north Liverpool, with Stop the War president Tony Benn and convenor Lindsey German.
This was held in a social club in a solidly working class area. Maeve, a Liverpool university student, described the meeting as “awesome”, saying how much she loved listening to Tony Benn.
“There were a lot of local people there – it had a real local feel,” Dan from Liverpool reports. “There were lots of new people and students, especially considering that it held was out of term time.”
He thought the turnout was due in large part to anger over the role of Nato and the British government during the recent war in the Caucasus region between Russia and Georgia.
Mark Krantz, the convenor of Manchester Stop the War Coalition, also reports that the Georgia crisis has added new urgency to the Manchester demo.
A packed public meeting of 140 held in Manchester last week heard journalist and author Seumas Milne, writer Terry Eagleton, Stop the War’s John Rees and CND activist Rae Street explain how the war in Georgia was a turning point in international relations.
Seumas told the meeting, “Putting pressure on the government for a change in direction is absolutely central. We should not underestimate the importance of this moment.
“Gordon Brown is very vulnerable. The majority of the British people want the troops taken out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and they want a break with the US war drive. Now is the time to turn up the heat.”
He added, “The Stop the War Coalition is a very important movement in this country. It has shown real staying power. Today it is needed more than ever.”
Ian in south east London told Socialist Worker, “We held a Stop the War stunt in Lewisham on Saturday to build for the Manchester demo.
“We dressed up as the war criminals – I was George Bush! It got a fantastic response from people. It was a very good way to engage with people and everyone was energised by the experience. We’re planning another walkabout this Saturday.”