It’s said that Tony Blair was actually in Downing Street when we marched past on Saturday.
It was two noisy hours of 100,000 people booing, chanting, leaving children’s shoes at the Cenotaph, staging sit-down protests – all determined to show their anger at government policy and to demand an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.
Let’s hope Blair heard it – although his recent messianic statements about a global battle between good and evil suggest that he is increasingly losing all contact with reality.
We are always asked by the media, “Will the government listen to your march?”
If they had listened to anti-war protesters, we would not be facing disaster across the Middle East. We would not have the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and we would not now have the invasion and bombardment of Lebanon.
Even once loyal Labour MPs and cabinet ministers are waking up to this reality. Many who trooped into the division lobbies behind Tony Blair over Iraq are now calling for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon.
Our demonstration has strengthened their opposition, has built support inside the trade unions and has mobilised large sections of Arab and Muslim opinion in Britain.
It is a tribute to the depth and breadth of the anti-war movement that we could mobilise those numbers at a week’s notice in the middle of the summer holidays.
Blair has not faced so great a political crisis since he took us to war on Iraq. Now is the time for us to go on the offensive.
The prime minister talked of an “arc of extremism” across the Middle East in his US speech last week. But the real arc of extremism is the one that spans the Atlantic between London and Washington.
Our job is to break that link and force Blair out of Downing Street. This is the only way we can begin to deliver peace with justice in the Middle East.
Last Saturday’s march has helped galvanise support for further local and national anti-war initiatives.
It will be a major springboard for the mass protest at the Labour Party’s annual conference in Manchester on 23 September.
Every Stop the War group, every trade unionist, every socialist, should do everything they can to make this the protest that marks the end of Blair’s rule.
Lindsey German is national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, which organised last Saturday’s Ceasefire Now demonstration. For more details go to www.stopwar.org.uk
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