Sydney rally numbers, now and then

Nick Fredman nfredman at
Sun Dec 1 19:12:59 MST 2002

Woops, I didn't realise I had sent the post re the Sydney rally that
Bob Gould gave a rather stern reply to, and sent a slightly different
version this morning (maybe on the list now), which maybe made it
clearer that I wasn't suggested the 1991 Sydney anti-war coalition
was somehow bigger and better - I said the obvious comparison is with
the pre-war 1990 rallies, cf to which last Saturday's rally was
several times bigger. However I do stand by my recollection that the
Jan 15 1991 Sydney rally was bigger. At the time I was helping with
the PA on the Town Hall steps, standing next to English lefty singer
Rory Mcleod, who said something like "cor blimey" as the masses kept
streaming in. Checking  Green Left, issue no. 1, 18 Feb 1991, the
numbers for this round of demos nationally seemed to larger than last
Saturday's, for the fairly obvious reason that everyone had just
watched a couple of days of brutal bombing on telly. Numbers for
subsequent rallies dropped off quickly but here's the summary of the
first round:

>The big January 19 marches and rallies had usually been called a
>month or more before for "the first >Saturday after war breaks out".
>Even so, that didn't leave much time for advance publicity, which
>makes >the big turnout all the more encouraging.

>The Melbourne march was generally estimated at 50,000 or more, while
>40,000 to 50,000 >demonstrated in Sydney. Adelaide had 15-20,000,
>Brisbane 6000, Perth 4000, Hobart 3000-5000, >Lismore 2000 and
>Darwin 500. Several hundred people demonstrated outside Pine Gap,
>and there were >actions also in Townsville, Wagga, Gosford, Albury
>Wodonga, Bendigo and Ballarat.

To make a point about the effectiveness of the current Sydney
coalition our great empiricist Bob seems none too interested in
checking the facts about this particular matter ("biggest anti-war
rally since Vietnam") - not that this proves anything either way, as
I've hopefully made clear now. In any case I completely agree with
Bob that organisational forms are completely tactical questions, more
important are the political questions, eg though I think open mass
meetings in a new and growing movement are inherently more inclusive
and democratic than a delegated structure, the fact that now all the
main anti-war forces agree on principled demands is more important
and a great improvement on 1991.

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