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No hiding place for Bush in Britain

The planned protests against George Bush's visit to Britain from 19 to 21 November have created a furore in the press

Issue No. 1876

'BUSH FACES fiery Welcome'. 'Presidential visit Sparks Bush bonfires'.

Those headlines, in the Guardian and Times on Monday, show the panic in the British establishment over protests against Bush's visit to London in ten days time.

Already Bush's state procession down the Mall with the queen has been cancelled. 'An unprecedented security operation is being put in place to protect George Bush and his entourage from mass protests and potential terrorist attacks when they arrive in London,' reported the Independent on Friday of last week.

'Scotland Yard has cancelled all police leave for the three days, which will be the first state visit paid to Britain by a president of the US in more than 80 years. From Mr Bush's perspective, television images of him being confronted by thousands of furious protesters on a visit to what is supposed to be America's closest ally could further dent public confidence in the US in his abilities.'

New Labour is fearful that anti-war protests could wreck Bush's high profile visit.

This is the same anti-war movement that Blair claimed has had no impact on British politics! Campaigners were seizing every opportunity to stoke up feeling against Bush in the run-up to his arrival.

This included turning bonfire night into anti-war protests.

The pro-war Observer highlighted these last Sunday when Mary Riddell wrote, 'The action starts this Wednesday when protesters will be burning him in effigy on Guy Fawkes night.

'Burning George, the Stop the War Coalition promises, will generate a 'warm feeling'. But not, naturally, the comforting glow that Tony Blair envisaged when planning the first state visit by a US president.'

She went on to refer to the 'civil disobedience' that the Stop the War Coalition is encouraging when Bush arrives.

Senior police officers are muttering about how the government wants them to police such protests.

Their crackdown on demonstrators who held protests against the Chinese leader Jiang Zemin's state visit to Britain in 1999 was exposed in the press. New Labour ministers were forced to distance themselves from the police's heavy handed tactics.

Now officers have been warned to avoid laying into anti-Bush demonstrators and to allow protesters to display anti-Bush slogans.

Tony Blair desperately wants the furore around Bush's visit to calm down. The official line from Downing Street is merely that the visit is an opportunity 'to deepen our close relationship with a close international partner'.

But protesters across Britain are furious that Bush, up to his neck in the blood of Iraqi and Afghan people, will get the red carpet treatment in London. Coaches are being booked across Britain to ensure the biggest possible 'welcome' greets Bush in a national demonstration on 20 November.

Events in local areas are also being planned during the three-day visit.

Over 250 people attended a meeting in Northampton last week, which George Galloway spoke at, to discuss how to build the protests against Bush's visit.

A further 200 gathered at a similar meeting in Southend the following night. Some 150 people staged an anti-Bush 'Monsters on Parade' protest in Brighton on Halloween night last week.

Such meetings give a glimpse of the potential to mobilise mass numbers of people into taking to the streets against the US warmonger.


Our Itinerary

  • Sunday 16 November

    Screening of Born on the Fourth of July, introduced by Ron Kovic, in London.

  • Tuesday 18 November

    Public rally in London-speakers include Tony Benn and George Galloway.

  • Wednesday 19 November

    'Alternative state procession' through London. March to the US consulate in Edinburgh. Demonstrations in other cities across Britain.

  • Thursday 20 November

    National demonstration in London organised by the Stop the War Coalition, the Muslim Association of Britain and CND.

  • Friday 21 November

    Mock trials of Bush for war crimes in London and Edinburgh.

    'Goodbye George' concert in London.


    His Itinerary

  • Wednesday 19 November

    Ceremonial arrival in Britain. Private lunch with the queen.

    In the evening there will be a state banquet hosted by the queen. Guests will include members of the royal family, Blair, the Archbishop of Canterbury and big business leaders.

    Bush and his wife will stay in Buckingham Palace.

  • Thursday 20 November

    Bush will hold talks with Blair.

    In the evening Bush will hold a banquet for the queen and invite high-profile US citizens living in Britain.

    Before Bush leaves he will visit the Cenotaph, the memorial to Britain's war dead.


    Protest checklist

    1 - Hand out leaflets and posters around workplaces, schools, university campuses, and streets in your area to build for the protests against Bush.

    2 - Sell Stop Bush badges to people you meet.

    3 - Build for occupations and protests at universities during Bush's visit.

    4 - Book coaches and sell tickets to get the maximum number of people to London to wreck Bush's plans in Britain.


    Stop the War Coalition

    Contact the coalition for publicity material for the anti-Bush protests and with details of what's happening in your area - Phone 020 7053 2153/4/5 or go to www.stopwar.org.uk


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    Article information

    Features
    Sat 8 Nov 2003, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1876
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