Socialist Worker

Reasons to march in Manchester this weekend

by Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition convenor (personal capacity)
Issue No. 2019

From Beirut to Brighton Tony Blair faced anti-war protests last week. Now all roads lead to Manchester. This weekend the Labour Party conference is coming to town - and the anti?war movement will be there.

Anti?war sentiment has grown over the summer, fuelled by the criminal attack on Lebanon and topped up by the disastrous news coming from Iraq and Afghanistan each day.

Tony Blair has been broken by the Lebanon war. He has been forced to say he will go within a year, but most people would like it to be much sooner.

The strength of feeling was shown at the TUC, meeting in Brighton last week. Some delegates walked out during Blair’s speech after holding up “Time To Go” placards. Others wore Stop the War T?shirts calling for the withdrawal of British troops.

There is little sign that Blair is listening. In his TUC speech he went out of his way to defend his record, even though he took no questions on the war after the speech.

Blair’s legacy will be the war - his image always that of a warmonger. The protest in Manchester will reinforce that image, forcing the war on to a conference agenda that is always sanitised to prevent debate on the issue.

The demonstration is about what we do next. It will send a series of messages - time to go for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, no attack on Iran and hands off Lebanon, and no Trident replacement which would cost £25 billion.

George Bush and Blair’s foreign policy has been a disaster. We have growing instability in the world, a greater threat of terrorism, hundreds of thousands dead, and Britain has now joined the US as a pariah in many parts of the world.

This week Manchester will be an anti?war city and you can be part of it. Military families were to set up a peace camp in Albert Square on Thursday.

Anti?war activists were to take to the streets on Friday to publicise the demo.

This Saturday, the march will begin in Albert Square and encircle the conference centre where there will be a “die in” before marching through the city centre back to Albert Square for a rally.

Coaches are coming from across Britain - from Broadstairs in Kent, from Cornwall, from west Wales and from the north of Scotland. Brothers and sisters from Ireland will join us.

On the Sunday there will be an alternative conference at Manchester University.

Why is the Manchester demonstration important? Because it sends a message to Blair that his time is up.

Because it sends a message to his successors that they cannot get away with following the same foreign policy.

Because it will be seen across Britain and will show the strength of feeling against the war.

Because it will be seen in the Palestinian refugee camps, in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Lebanon and Iran, and across the world. And because that will show the world that there is a mass anti?war movement in Britain determined to bring its government to account.

For full coverage of the demonstration go to Reports and video of Manchester Time to Go demonstration

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