ANTI-WAR activists are mobilising for the next focus in the movement to stop war on Iraq. The Stop the War Coalition has called for a day of action - 'Stop Your City, Stop the War' - on Thursday 31 October.
'31 October is an important day,' Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told marchers on Saturday's demonstration. 'It is the next staging post. There should be demonstrations and civil disobedience. If we work together we can stop this war.' Fellow Labour MP George Galloway added, 'On 31 October all over the country people will occupy universities, public buildings, and sit down in the street and demonstrate their disobedience.'
This action comes on top of the call by Tony Benn that people should organise civil disobedience on the day any war against Iraq begins. Salma Yakoob from the Muslim Association in Birmingham gave her backing at the rally:
'Our politicians have been silent for too long. I support Tony Benn's call to stop what you are doing, even for a few minutes, to stop war. The temporary disruption will help stop permanent disruption of another country. It is amazing that an anti-war movement is this strong before war has even started.'
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, explained at the rally, 'The anti-war movement is growing by the day. We are making history today and the whole world is watching us. When we say we don't agree with Tony Blair it gives heart to people round the world. We've done all that is humanly possible to build this demo. On 31 October we want local demos, civil disobedience and student occupations. Turn out on that day and do everything locally to stop this war.'
Lindsey stressed that opposition would continue, whether or not the United Nations backs a war. 'Our message is, don't go to war even if a UN resolution is cobbled together. If war is wrong today, it's wrong next week too. There should be no war under any circumstances. This is about oil - about the rich waging war on the poor. Tony Blair wants to found another empire. The people who lived under the British Empire didn't benefit from it, people over here didn't benefit, and they don't want it coming back in any form.'
George Galloway said, 'Whatever the decision of the UN Security Council, millions will oppose this war for oil.'
Talking to Socialist Worker on the march
'THIS demonstration shows Blair and his acolytes that there is a huge popular movement against the war. I hope it shows people in the US who are against the war that there is mass opposition here, because they are crucial to stopping it. This war is ultimately about economic interests. Privatisation is also about economic interests. Many people are now making the connections between these issues. It is up to the leadership of the left to show the links and build a wide opposition to Blair.'
Ken Loach, film director
'TODAY IS also an opportunity to link up with other issues, such as the firefighters' pay campaign. They are all aspects of the same issue - a government that is not acting in the interests of ordinary people at home or abroad. The prospects are the best they have been for many years to build a left wing movement. What we need is the maximum unity against the war, and in support of workers who are taking action.'
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS civil servants' union
'MANY OF my members are saying that if there is enough money for war, why isn't it being spent on further and higher education - scrapping student loans, and ending low pay and casualisation? The same message is coming from across the public sector. We are seeing the coming together of different movements. Today there will be thousands of people going back to build the resistance.'
Paul Mackney, general secretary of Natfhe, the college lecturers' union
'MANY TRADE union leaders have taken a principled position against the war, and so have rank and file members. In 1997 people wanted to see a more compassionate and caring country. Now Tony Blair is completely out of touch with that sentiment. That is why there are also a series of industrial disputes, particularly over low pay. Whether they lead to major confrontations will depend on what the government does, and on the organisation and determination of the movement.'
Mick Rix, general secretary of Aslef, the train drivers' union
Stop the War Coalition 020 7053 2155 www.stopwar.org.uk