The anti-war movement, in all its power and dynamism, is set to converge on Manchester for a national demonstration on 23 September.
The protest, organised to coincide with the Labour Party conference, is a chance to make sure Tony Blair is driven from office with the voices of the anti-war majority ringing in his ears.
Last weekend Stop the War Coalition activists in and around Manchester took to the streets to help ensure the biggest possible turnout from the north west of England.
In Rochdale members of Littleborough and District Peace Group and Rochdale Stop the War organised some street theatre to build the protest. They used a “Blair-in-a-bin” to catch the attention of local residents.
They plan to push their “plastic PM” all the way from Rochdale town hall to meet the Manchester demonstration.
Campaigner Philip Gilligan said, “It will be a long walk to Manchester on 23 September and we shall need to set a brisk pace to get the ‘Blair-in-a-bin’ to Albert Square for 1pm.
“However, it is very important that we deliver the clearest possible message to the likes of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Reid - that it is time to go.”
Local students are also expected to turn out in large numbers, according to Manchester University student union president Rob Owen.
“We have already printed plenty of leaflets to hand out when students return for the new academic year,” he said. “The student union is backing the demonstration - we have a massive banner advertising it on the union building.”
Protesters from the north west of England will be joined by demonstrators arriving in coaches from towns and cities across the country. Transport to the demonstration is organised from Inverclyde to Plymouth and Aberystwyth to Norwich.
A “peace train” will be bringing protesters from London to Manchester.
In Scotland the T&G union is supporting the demonstration by providing free buses for all T&G members who want to go.
Some 70 people in Tower Hamlets, east London, turned out to hear speakers including Craig Murray, the diplomat turned human rights campaigner, and Rabbi Abbi Cohen from Neturei Karta, an organisation of Orthodox Jews opposed to Zionism.
Local CND activist Sue Davis told Socialist Worker, “Everybody mentioned the 23 September demonstration - there was a great sense of how we have all got to be there.”
The Stop the War Coalition is urging local groups to build the protest by:
- Holding public meetings.
- Organising street stalls.
- Visiting workplaces, community centres, mosques and churches.
- Holding press conferences at which local MPs, councillors, trade union officials and celebrities can give their support to the protest.
- Arranging for the widest possible distribution of leaflets and stickers.
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