Largest demo in British history

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 15 14:50:09 MST 2003


(posted to alt.politics.socialism.trotsky by Alex Prianikoff)

Over a million people marched against War on Iraq in London today, February 
15th.  The official police estimate for the numbers attending was 750,000, 
although the main organisers, the Stop the War coalition, were claiming 2 
million over the p.a. system at the end of the rally in Hyde Park.

Organiser John Rees was quoted by the BBC as saying the turnout had been 
fantastic with an "electric atmosphere but also very serious and determined".

Demonstrators gathering at the end-of-march rally heard speakers, including 
Former US presidential candidate  Jesse Jackson,  ex-minister Mo Mowlam, 
London's mayor Ken Livingstone, actress Vanessa Redgrave, human rights 
campaigner Bianca Jagger and former MP Tony Benn.

The march began at two assembly points, the Embankment for a march past 
Westminster, and Gower Street,  near the University of London, where 
marchers from the North of England and Midlands assembled. The two marches 
converged two hours later at Piccadilly, which was jammed tight 
with  people carrying placards produced by the ‘Daily Mirror', Stop the War 
Coalition, Socialist Workers Party and Muslim Association of Britain.  Most 
people were content to pick up whatever placard came to hand, regardless of 
their affiliation.

By 5.30 when the speeches had already ended, marchers were streaming into 
the park with no end in sight. Large numbers dispersed into the Marble Arch 
and Knightsbridge areas, still holding their banners and the tube stations 
were closed until past 6.30.

I can't give any independent estimate of the figures claimed for the march, 
as I never got to the rally being too involved in stewarding, leafletting 
and collections.

Many people had never been on a demonstration before and came up to thank 
the Stewards for organising the event.  One woman handed me £20 for a 50 p 
badge.

The STWC leaflet "If War Breaks Out" was snapped up faster than it could be 
handed out.  It calls for mass meetings, walkouts and sit-ins and mass 
occupations of city centres across Britain.  It also calls on a recall TUC 
conference to discuss national strike action, a call echoed by 5 union 
General Secretaries last week. However it was undoubtedly the largest 
demonstration or rally I've seen and probably the largest in British History.

There is now a mass base for the Stop the War Coalition's arguments, which 
will give Blair and his allies in New Labour serious concern when making 
their calculations in the next few weeks.

www.stopwar.org.uk PO Box 3739 London E5 8EJ


Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org


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