Socialist Worker

Build the march Blair fears most

Issue No. 1837

THE BIGGEST demonstration in British history is set to take place next Saturday. The anti-war march is already expected to be so big that it has to have two assembly points. It is no wonder the government is panicking. Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, tried to ban the march from its usual rallying point in Hyde Park.

She even claimed she was worried about what might happen to the grass. New Labour suggested moving the rally to the outskirts of the city, proposing the Millennium Dome. The Stop the War Coalition refused point blank. Jowell then came up with the Mall, until the government realised a massive demo on the steps of Buckingham Palace would be 'a PR disaster'.

The Stop the War Coalition insisted on Hyde Park, and Jowell caved in. Blair and his cronies showed their desperation to clamp down on what they know will be a massive show of popular opposition to the war.

The movement has challenged Blair's ministers to reflect the anti-war feeling of millions across Britain or be swept aside. Blair himself admitted to MPs this week he is putting his whole political career on the line by backing Bush's drive for world domination.

The anti-war movement in Britain is in a uniquely important position. For all the US's military might, the Bush regime knows it will be taking a huge political gamble if it has to go it alone. The anti-war movement in Britain has already helped spur the growing movement in the US.

It is also inspiring protests in the region of the world that Blair's fears unrest most-the Middle East. The bigger our movement, the greater the pressure on Bush's weak link-Blair. That's why veteran campaigner Tony Benn is right to say that Britain has a 'virtual veto' over the war.

We have to let Blair know his political future is finished if he tries to wage war in our name. That message should fill the streets of London on 15 February. Every day in the run-up to the demonstration is vital.

Whenever the march is raised and leaflets are handed out they are snatched up in workplaces, colleges and estates all over Britain. People who have never been on a demonstration before want to march. Campaigners who have approached people who have not shown interest in protest before report a great response.

Every home leafleted, every student and worker asked to come on the march is a step towards putting millions on the streets in Britain and across the world next Saturday.

The more people inspired by the mass protest, the stronger the movement will be afterwards. We will be better prepared to be involved in the sort of action that is needed to stop Bush and Blair's killing machine.

Train drivers in Motherwell, Scotland, have given an example of that action. Drivers working for English Welsh & Scottish Railway stopped another train carrying munitions for the British military last week. The rail workers have been stopping such trains since early in January.

The drivers have scheduled a strike over pay for 15 February, but they have agreed to make an exception for trains taking protesters to the demonstration.

Seizing the time

IN THE next few days everyone has to make sure that they:

  • Hold a meeting on local streets and estates, in colleges and at work.

  • Leaflet streets, workplaces, colleges, and train and tube stations for the demo, and poster and sticker everywhere.

  • Pin an anti-war badge on themselves, friends and family, and put up a window poster.

  • Hold stalls to sell tickets for the march outside shops, workplaces and colleges.

  • Above all...ask everyone to come on the march.

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