GEORGE BUSH'S visit to Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency in the north east of England last Friday went as badly for the warmonger as the rest of his visit. Around 1,000 people from across the north east protested against Bush and Blair. They gathered just 200 yards up the road from the Dun Cow pub where Bush met a few hand-picked residents.
School students refused to go to school. University students, trade unionists and pensioners chanted together. Many people were attending their first ever demonstration. The police closed down the area, preventing many people from joining the protests.
School students were turned away from Sedgefield Community College when Bush visited because they wore anti-Bush badges. Lauraleigh Woodward, a student at the school, said, 'He is causing disruption and disturbance in our community. The real people of the north east aren't welcoming Bush here. The security is so tight around the school it is like Sedgefield concentration camp.'
Richard Wanless from Sedgefield Against War told Socialist Worker, 'Bush and Blair are the two biggest terrorists on the planet. People don't want Bush here. Because of this visit they've turned this area into a police state. I used to be a member of the Labour Party. But New Labour has hijacked the party.'
Barry Chambers, the chair of the Blackhall Labour Party, said, 'When New Labour finally comes to an end we'll see these last few years as wasted. Bush and Blair are the enemies of democracy. I am very disillusioned with the Labour Party.'
Developing the movement
THE largest demonstration in British history on 15 February. The next biggest on 27 September last year. The largest demonstration during a war in March, and now the biggest weekday march for decades. The Stop the War Coalition has created an unprecedented political mobilisation in Britain, and has helped to stamp the crime of the war on Iraq firmly on Tony Blair.
Last week's demonstration showed Iraq is going to continue to undermine him. There was huge support for taking the power of the anti-war movement into an electoral challenge to Blair in next June's Euro elections.
After a momentous year, the Stop the War Coalition has set itself the task of focusing and developing the movement against Bush's ongoing 'war on terror'. It is sending a big delegation to the Cairo anti-war conference in two weeks (see page 10).
The anti-war movement across Europe has already called an international day of action on 20 March next year. The stop the war movement has been a political earthquake in Britain. Its aftershocks are being felt over many other issues and struggles.
Protests echo around world
THE LONDON demonstration made the headlines elsewhere in the world. There was a whole page in the Italian left wing daily Liberazione. From Finland to South Korea, the US, India and New Zealand, both the build-up to the demonstration and the march itself made the main news bulletins.
The demonstration was on the front page of many papers in Greece: 'A Rumbling NO From 300,000 Londoners' said To Ethnos. 'Earthquake In London Caused By Demonstrations' said Eleftherotypia.
Coverage in the Arab press
THE ARAB press was watching events in London. The pan-Arab daily Al-Hayrat said, 'The Stop the War Coalition includes sections of British society ranging from the 'Socialist Workers' to British Muslim youth to many student unions.'
The fall of Bush's statue dominated the front page of Jordanian daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm on 21 November. For the Lebanese paper Assafir, 'The atmosphere in London yesterday recalled the mood which brought a million people to Hyde Park on 15 February.' Syrian paper Tishreen said, 'Bush Leaves London Disappointed After A Storm Of Criticism And Protests'.
Iraqi daily Azzaman reported that protesters had followed Bush as far as Tony Blair's constituency. The Arab nationalist daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi said that Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad was torn down under the protection of US tanks, 'whereas the statute of Bush fell at the hands of demonstrators who came to express their views in a democratic manner'.