The magnificent demonstration last Saturday was the best possible answer to a warmongering government and its many allies in the media.
The mood was defiant, with a sense that the chief warmonger would not be in Downing Street for much longer. It reflected the majority opinion in Britain much better than the government with its refusal to admit any role in the disaster in Iraq or to sanction the only course which would improve the situation – bringing the troops home.
Three years on and this government has learnt not a single lesson from the disaster it has created in Iraq. Tony Blair would do it all again. Defence secretary John Reid tells us that demonstrating against the war is only helping the terrorists.
He also tells us that most Iraqis support the occupation of their country, despite a poll conducted by his own ministry of defence which showed that 80 percent of Iraqis questioned wanted the troops to leave.
Even those who banged the drum for the war three years ago are falling out. Independent columnist Johann Hari has written saying his reasons for opposing the war were all wrong.
Francis Fukuyama, one of the original architects of the Project for a New American Century, has admitted the war in Iraq did not follow the crazed blueprint of the US and has been a mistake. Iyad Allawi, an Iraqi politician courted by the US, has said the country is descending into civil war.
The international anti-war movement has proved to be the only consistent opposition to this madness. Saturday shows the movement is growing again around the world. In Britain we have an especially important job to do. Blair is on the rocks and we need to intensify the pressure.
Next week there will be demonstrations against the visit of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the north west of England. Every Stop the War group should try to meet this week to discuss future activity. We need a barrage of action, debate and discussion in every locality. Groups should plan a programme of events for the next few months.
The response to the demonstration was very encouraging, with coaches filling up from towns and cities around the country. We are only scratching the surface of our support – there were far more people who would have come on the demo if we’d been able to get to them. Our task in the coming weeks is to reach out to them.
Local Stop the War meetings should take place weekly or fortnightly. They should be constituted as broadly as possible with participation from across the coalition – different political parties, peace groups, CND members, religious groups, ethnic minorities, trade unions, students and school students. Don’t just depend on the regular activists, bring in the new supporters as well.
Plan local activity over the next month. Street theatre, local demos, protests at government ministers, protests to highlight the attacks on Iran, vigils, film shows, public meetings, debates, election hustings, are all potential means of mobilising and publicising our cause.
Try to hold a public meeting over the next few weeks to gather support in each locality and to make the case for the troops to leave Iraq and against an attack on Iran. Publicise the Stop the War Coalition conference on 10 June which will be a chance to get the movement together to debate the way forward and how we organise.
Sign the statement initiated by Tony Benn for a tribunal to investigate the legality of the war.
On Saturday we showed how the movement encompasses a range of issues from Guantanamo to Palestine to Venezuela and how it is capable of mobilising on a truly mass scale. We should reproduce that on a local basis because anti-war feeling is growing and because we may face an attack on Iran which will further escalate this war.
However much the commentators and politicians oppose the war, they will do nothing to stop it. Only the movement mobilised on the streets can do that. Saturday shows we have the power. If Blair is prepared to do it all again over Iran, we have to be prepared to do it all again too.
Lindsey German is the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition. Go to www.stopwar.org.uk