London report - 2 million march

T.Hartin t.hartin at qmul.ac.uk
Sun Feb 16 06:55:40 MST 2003


Hi Comrades,

well I've run out of superlatives (and lost my voice). London joined the
rest of the world in doing something very special yesterday. As on
journalist wrote today "The unprecedented turnout had shocked the
organisers, shocked the marchers". I hope that is nothing in comparison
with what it has done to Blair.

I have no figures yet on paper sales or anything like that. The SWP had 20
or 30 stalls but apart from the initial arrival at the tube station were
pretty much invisible due to the size of the demo.

Anecdotally on the march figures... I could easily put our component of
the march at double what is was last time (400,000 in Sep. Don't forget
that component was only 1/2 the march. I arrived at 11am and streams of
people were choking every lane and street. I arranged to meet friends on
the opposite side of the river from the assembly point (to make things
easy we thought). There were so many people on that side alone it took us
2 hours to get across bridges to get to the demo proper. We were human
gridlock. It becomes very difficult to follow a route in that case and a
flood of people proceeded down every parallel path as well.

The mix of banners was a delight as always.. there was this time much more
of a genuine representation of society. There were the Indian workers
association, carribean groups and drummers. Too many places to
mention...West dorset against the War, Cornish Ravers against the War,
Pagans against the War - a beautiful quilted banner from Swansea (ain't
never seen that at a demo before). The vast majority did the 6 hour march
to Hyde Park. As I left as darkness fell Picadilly was still wall to wall
protestors.

Every newspaper today carried a massive colour picture of the demo with
the title "biggest march in British history". In fact it was FOUR times
the size of VE day (end of WWII) - the previous biggest I believe. One
mainstream paper - The Mirror joined the coalition to the point of running
petitions, printing placards. Their front page pic on the day was a
beautiful piece of agitation (check it out on the web). Their inexperience
showed out a bit though - their placard sticks were way to big and the
fastners too flimsy. Though to even see a mainstream paper attempt to
enter the hirtherto preserve of the Demo Left was a sight to behold.

I should not forget to mention glasgow which saw 100,000 protest as well -
that too was unprecedented. Where do we go from here? I expect Blair and
co. will hope for a dampening down of the furore in the next few days. It
is clear that we must move to civil disobedience and strike action very
soon. One hopes that the Left Trade Union leaders were as inspired as the
rank and file (i.e us).

YFTR,
Tony

--
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Department of Physics            | Tony Hartin
Queen Mary College               | TEL/FaX: +44 (0)20 7882 5054
Mile End Road  London  E1 4NS    | e-mail : t.hartin at qmul.ac.uk
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