Socialist Worker

Massive protests to greet Bush's visit

'Security fears overshadow plans for Bush visit,' ran a headline in the Financial Times on Tuesday

Issue No. 1876

THE MEDIA are waking up to the prospect of massive protests wrecking George Bush's state visit to Britain in three weeks time.

The Financial Times report says, 'Police are facing massive street protests as they thrash out the final arrangements for George W Bush's visit.' The Stop the War Coalition have refused police demands to keep protests away from parliament and Whitehall, the article says.

This has sparked fears among government officials that the coalition's planned protests could turn Bush's visit into a 'propaganda disaster'.

That's exactly what thousands of anti-war activists are hoping for. Bush will be a guest of the queen at Buckingham Palace, but plans for a triumphant procession have been shelved for 'security reasons'. Now officials have admitted they are scared to let Bush visit Blair's own Sedgefield constituency, reports the Financial Times.

It's not just the Financial Times that is reporting the growing protest movement. Roy Hattersley, Labour's former deputy leader, wrote in Monday's Guardian, 'Has anyone yet explained why President George Bush is about to make a state visit to the United Kingdom?'

Hattersley encouraged people to show how they feel-by writing postcards rather than joining the 'hooligans' who will be trying 'physically to disrupt his progress'.

But around the country thousands of anti-war activists are already organising against the Bush visit, and many are prepared to disrupt the warmongers' parade. Tuesday's Financial Times station Down under rattles warmonger


Huge protests met George Bush when he visited Australia last weekend, reports JARVIS RYAN

THE Australian government organised the biggest security operation in Australian history to 'protect' the US president. Whole suburbs of the capital, Canberra, were closed to traffic when Bush's convoy was on the move. F/A-18 fighter jets patrolled the skies.

Protesters were banned from assembling outside the front of parliament and forbidden from marching to the US embassy or the prime minister's lodge. But all these efforts could not stop a day of magnificent defiance. Green senator Bob Brown became an instant hero after he heckled during Bush's speech. Brown attacked Bush over the detention of two Australians at the Camp Delta concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay.

Eighteen year old Ahmed Habib, whose father Mamdouh Habib is being held at Camp Delta, was dragged out of the viewing gallery after he yelled out, 'Hey Bush, what about my dad?'

Outside more than 3,000 people rallied and defied police efforts to stop them marching. When the march got under way the feeling was electric. Amid a sea of banners and placards, protesters chanted, 'Bush is a terrorist! To stop the war we must resist!'

The demonstration was overwhelmingly young, militant and anti-capitalist. There were solidarity demonstrations around the country. The biggest and most lively was a brilliant 5,000-strong march to the US Consulate in Sydney the night before the Canberra protest.


Getting going

GHADA RAZUKI works in the Stop the War Coalition office in London. She told Socialist Worker, 'The issue of Bush's visit is really getting people going. The local groups have been revitalised. People just hate Bush's guts, for many different reasons. It's the same feeling you got before the 15 February demo-such diverse people are getting involved. And we got one e-mail saying, 'Would it be possible for you to have an effigy of Bush at the rally for people to throw eggs at-my mum would really appreciate that.' 'Where people use the Stop Bush petition, they get people queuing up to sign it. We need the petitions in by Monday 10 November.'


Petition scores

RICHARD FROM Manchester reports, 'I left a copy of the petition on my desk at work. When I came back five minutes later, it had been passed round and filled in. When we used the petition on Market Street on Saturday we were literally mobbed. People didn't just want to sign, they wanted copies to take away and use with their friends and workmates. And there were loads of school kids who walked out of school when war started last March talking about what they will do this time.'

A council worker from Newham, east London, told Socialist Worker, 'We have already organised stalls at work, collecting signatures on the Stop Bush petition. People have taken away petitions to use in their sections-a few have joined the union. And it was the same when we did a stall in East Ham last Saturday. People must have taken away about 60 petitions-they felt really confident to use them themselves.'

'When I rang round our Stop the War group I found lots of people were doing stuff. One woman put a Stop Bush poster in her window and so many people said it was really good that she took the petition down her street.'


New energy

ACROSS THE country local groups are getting organised to build the protests against Bush, and with renewed determination and energy. Maxine from Stoke Newington reports, 'We held a local meeting in my area of Stoke Newington with around 20 people. We decided we wanted to get the momentum going around the Bush visit. We're going to dress as Grim Reaper Bushes and go around on Halloween. We have arranged to leaflet all local workplaces and to talk to union reps. The local meeting was bigger than the one we held in the run-up to the start of the war.'

For more information, petitions and publicity material contact the Stop the War Coalition-phone 020 7053 2153/4/5/6 or go to www.stopwar.org.uk


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