Socialist Worker

Scaling the fence that protected the Gleneagles elite

Thousands of people defied police lies and intimidation to demonstrate against the G8 summit in Gleneagles last week, writes Keir McKechnie

Issue No. 1960

Protesters advance towards the fence that surrounded the G8 summit (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Protesters advance towards the fence that surrounded the G8 summit (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The march by more than 10,000 people against the G8 summit being held in Gleneagles Hotel last Wednesday was the culmination of five days of protest against the rulers of the world.

It was also a great victory for the movement as people ignored police threats to ban the march and travelled to the town of Auchterardrer to make their feelings known.

At 9am on Wednesday the police told the G8 Alternatives group, which had organised the march, that the demonstration had been cancelled for “public safety”.

They used a number of roadblocks throughout the Stirling and Dunblane area by other protesters as a pretext for banning the march. The police started boarding coaches across Scotland saying that G8 Alternatives had cancelled the demonstration. The police announced on national TV that the march had been called off.

MPs, MSPs, trade unionists and other campaigners exerted pressure on the police to get the march back on. The police then said that they would allow 2,000 to demonstrate. We said that was not acceptable.

The fact that we had thousands of people descending on Auchterarder and the support of the Scottish TUC and the Fire Brigades Union forced the police to cave in.

We had won a complete victory. People assembled in a huge contingent and we marched up to the fence that surrounded the hotel where the G8 was meeting.

The march was noisy and angry, but peaceful. The police used camera crews to film people, which agitated many protesters.

Around 50 to 100 people ripped the fence and were met by a sharp riot police charge. People scattered. Police wanted to have a clear show of force to justify the £150 million spent on security.

Police from different divisions had their numbers covered up. Protesters were harassed when they entered a field by the fence.

Police horses charged demonstrators and flew a Chinook helicopter over the march.

It was totally over the top. This was shown by the fact that there were just two arrests on the day.

The response of the people of Auchterarder was the complete opposite of the police. People had stuck up posters in different languages saying “Welcome to Auchterarder”. They waved at protesters from their windows and some participated in the march.

The march had a great spirit against George Bush and Tony Blair’s policies. It was led by Africans and linked the issues of poverty and war.

It got within 550 yards of the summit — within sight and earshot. It was a victory for the movement and for the right to protest.

The success of the protest has had a big impact on the left in Scotland and helped to pull people together. It has changed Scotland radically. This mass protest was the most effective way to take on the G8 leaders and their neo-liberal policies.

Keir McKechnie was the chief steward on the G8 Alternatives march

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Sat 16 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1960
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