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(en) Freedom 6319 5th Oct. 2002 - When protest isn't enough

From FreedomCopy@aol.com
Date Tue, 22 Oct 2002 09:12:04 -0400 (EDT)


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The anti-war march in central London on 28th September was followed
by the usual widely-disparate claims about numbers - anything from
150,000 to 400,000. The difference this time round of about 250,000,
however, is telling in itself. Even allowing for the inevitable tendentious
distortions, it reveals that there were simply too many people to allow an
accurate estimate.
Even if the claimed totals are meaningless, there are other indicators of
scale that can be of use. When the front of the march reached Hyde
Park, there was still a massive throng backed up at Embankment that
had been waiting for up to two hours. A solid column filled the roads
down Whitehall, and all the way down Piccadilly to Hyde Park Corner.
It took four hours to complete the route.
An 'official' figure, then, is irrelevant: regardless of which figure one
takes to be correct, this was the largest anti-war demonstration London
has seen in recent years and perhaps ever. Even the lowest estimate of
150,000 reveals a steady groundswell in opinion against the war. Add
those who were unable to attend, and the countless numbers in cars
saluting the march with their horns, and it seems fair to say Blair's
long-awaited dossier has failed to resonate.
The press the following morning, however, will have made depressing
reading for many: inflated commentary about John Major's amorous
transgressions that, if they reveal weaknesses in his sexual judgement,
reveal nothing new about the flaws in his political judgement. There was
scant evidence that editors had found it a struggle to dignify such
titillation with the political significance needed to justify its monopoly of
the front pages. Coverage of the demonstration was beggarly and, fitting
a beggar, neatly tucked away out of sight.
The press is an industry and, like any other, needs to return a profit to
survive. Increasing profit margins is the hallmark of a successful editor,
and cheap smut sells better than the wanton expenditure of foreign lives.
Even if a million angry protesters had choked the capital last Saturday,
the sexual diversions of a rising cabinet minister would always have
eclipsed their concerns. Merely demonstrating is never going to
influence policy makers. Widespread public opposition to the poll tax
only forced the Tories to execute their embarrassing turnaround (and
their leader) because of a concerted campaign of civil disobedience. The
state needs to be hit where it hurts: the law.




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