There was an atmosphere of defiance and jubilation as tens of thousands of people poured into Trafalgar Square in London on Friday to protest against Donald Trump’s visit.
The square was packed. At one point each of the five roads leading out of it was a solid mass of people.
Organisers said 250,000 took part during the day, a superb achievement on a weekday, and a sign of how much Trump and his views are hated.
Some people had erected a mock wall outside the National Gallery for protesters to scrawl their messages for Donald Trump. Sayed from London told Socialist Worker, “We're all here, we're from all walks of life, it’s a carnival of resistance.”
“It's not just about Trump's Islamophobia, it's about what he says about migrants and women too.”
He added, “We're not just against Donald Trump—but against the politics of Trumpism.
“You can see it in some parts of Europe. We've got to come out and stand together like we're doing today.”
Across the way at the other end of Trafalgar Square people took it in turns land blows on the mobile “Punch Trump” stand.
As some groups of people left to go home, more came to replace them. Theresa had come with her family in the afternoon because “we don't agree with anything that Trump stands for.”
“It's everything he says and does,” she told Socialist Worker. “He's sexist, he's racist, he banned one section of people from coming to the US.
“He's everything that we're not.”
Steven, a teacher from east London, had come with one of the delegations of trade unionists who joined the rally after work. “I've come to show that we're opposed to Trump,” he told Socialist Worker
“It's easy to just be against him and stay at home, but it's important to come out and send a message.
“His racist and bigoted opinions do matter. What he says has an impact, not just in the US but here too.”
Huge cheers ripped through the crowd when Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn took to the stage. And chants of “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” continued to sporadically break out in the crowd throughout his speech.
Corbyn told the crowd, "Our democracy comes from popular action, our right to demonstrate in this Square was hard fought for and hard won, the right of women to vote was hard fought for and hard won.
“We're asserting our rights to demonstrate and live in a world that's not divided by misogyny, racism and hate."
Some of the loudest cheers came when he slammed Trump's warmongering and racism. "We come together because I wish to live in a world of peace not war," he said. "I wish to live in a world where refugees are not blamed for the wars that they are victims of.
“When we divide ourselves by xenophobia we all lose, when we unite around common objectives we can all win.”
Frances O’Grady, the leader of the Trades Union Congress, said, ““Pack your bags Trump - and take Boris with you.”
A speaker from the Muslim Association of Britain pointed out that the fascist supporters of Tommy Robinson are marching on Saturday, describing the mobilisation as “a mark of what Trump represents.”
Sabby Dhalu from Stand Up To Racism underlined this. “Tomorrow Tommy Robinson's fascist and racist supporters are marching to say Trump is welcome," she said. "Please join us tomorrow to say these streets belong to us.”
The protest in London had a real energy and determination—and there were many others around Britain. There were over 10,000 in Glasgow, 3-4,000 in Manchester and the same in Sheffield, 1,500 in Leeds, 1,000 in Birmingham—and 600 in Exeter. Around 250 took part in Southampton and one activist described it as "The biggest protest here since the Iraq War."
From the moment he arrived, Trump’s visit was made possible only by keeping away from ordinary people. It was like a Theresa May election campaign on steroids.
Far from being a triumphant tour, it is a sign of extreme weakness. It has not alleviated May’s crisis, it has intensified it by linking her to a disgusting and widely loathed figure.
Trump has been whisked from one group of filthy rich businessmen and fawning Tories to another without any attempt to engage with reality.
The size of the anti-Trump demonstrations is a huge boost to everyone fighting racism, sexism and austerity. Trump’s visit has seen a break in the recent pattern of “don’t demonstrate, wait for Corbyn to be elected”.
The marches for the NHS and the Trade Union Congress demonstration this year were much smaller than similar events in 2017. But the anti-Trump protests have been magnificent.
This needs to be built on—against racism, sexism, austerity, climate change denial, war and for Palestine.
The protests underline the potential to build a bigger mass movement against the far right, the toxic forces that idolise Trump and want to replicate his racism - and go even further.
A crucial battle takes place on Saturday 14 July, when the supporters of fascist Tommy Robinson gather in central London.