Anti-war activists were out in force across the Greater Manchester area last Saturday to organise opposition to the war and a huge presence at the anti-war march on 15 February.
'The response on the streets has been amazing,' says Richard Searle of the Stop the War Coalition. There have been stalls in almost every area in Greater Manchester today. There are lots of places that have coaches booked that didn't have coaches last time, like Stockport and Gorton. And there are local meetings taking place all over Greater Manchester in the next few weeks.'
Dave McNally explained, 'We plan to leaflet every house in Chorlton about the march. We've got four coaches booked from Chorlton and two from Whalley Range. Rick from Whalley Range says, 'I've been really surprised by the take-up. This is the first time a coach has been organised from Whalley Range to a protest. 'We've filled a coach and a half already. I've spent this morning going round shops putting up leaflets. Shopkeepers have been more than willing to display materials.'
A local mosque has now asked for 100 seats on the Whalley Range transport-so more coaches will have to be booked. Dave Roberts tells how 'there's one coach organised from Eccles near Salford.'
Ameen Hadi adds, 'In Oldham the local coalition has booked four coaches. Twenty people came to an organising meeting last week. Local churches and mosques have agreed to do collections for us. One of the most important things that's coming out of it is that it's bringing the Asian, white and black communities together in an area the Nazi BNP is targeting.'
Rita McLaughlin is a GMB union member who lives in Prestwich. 'Three of us have leafleted the council estate that I live on for a local meeting where people can discuss what we can do against war,' she says. Activists are also organising to get big delegations of students.
'We've got six coaches booked already. I think we might have to get another four,' says James from Manchester University. 'In my student halls people are coming up to me and asking me for tickets.' Fergus Alexander, another student at the university, says, 'I've started to set up an Architects Against the War group on my course. There's a statement by Richard Rogers and other prominent architects against the war that I'm using. I've organised a meeting for the first week in February that two lecturers are going to speak at. I stood up in my lecture last Friday and let people know this was going on. My lecturer made me put my e-mail address on the board and everyone took it down.'
School students are mobilising too. 'Between 15 and 20 people in our year are definitely against war. About ten will come to the march,' explained Matt Kelly and Phil Ardale, 15 year olds at St Ambrose School near Altrincham.
'Why I stood up to Tony Blair'
Iain Wilson hit the headlines last week when he heckled Tony Blair at a meeting in Camden, north London. Iain told Socialist Worker:
'There was no way I couldn't do what I did. There were so many people who would have liked to ask these questions-I had the chance to do it. The whole event was so stage-managed. It was for a select, invited few, but the issue of Iraq affects everyone. They are afraid of the fact that the majority of the trade unions and students are against the war. Tony Blair is just one person. We are the vast majority. If we all stand together we can stop the war.'
'Over 100 local people turned out on a bitter cold and windy Saturday in Sedgefield at the heart of Tony Blair's constituency to call on their MP not to lead Britain into war,' reports Alan Docherty.
'The vigil was organised by former Labour Party members and the local vicar. It is now likely that a coach will start from Sedgefield for the 15 February demo.'
'Over 1,000 protesters rallied at Fairford, Gloucestershire, before marching towards the nearby US air force base last Saturday,' reports Jeff Brewster. 'The event was organised by the 'Gloucestershire Weapons Inspectors' to protest at the proposed use of the base to attack Iraq.'