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(en) DA #26 - Solidarity Federation magazine - The big one

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 17 Apr 2003 12:47:18 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

People came out because they are sick of the hypocrisy
and lies of the politicians. For a decade, Blair and cronies
ignored numerous early day motions condemning
Saddam's treatment of his people. Has he suddenly woken
up to the Iraqi suffering? Wheeling out tiny groups of Iraqi
dissidents who say we should bomb their countryfolk
gives the game away. As Jesse Jackson said, the war
does not pass the smell test. A pre-emptive strike against
Iraq will destroy any modicum of moral authority, and all
because Saddam conceals weapons of mass destruction?
If Bush wants to know how many his father sold them, why
doesn't he just look at his sales receipts?
It was impossible to say exactly how many people were
at the anti-war demonstration on February 15th in London.
All we know is that it was many more than the laughably
inaccurate police 'estimate' of 750,000. Between 1.5 and 2
million would be nearer the mark. Certainly, it was the
biggest demonstration in British history.
Many on the march were protesting for the first time.
The atmosphere was good, and people came up to our
little group asking what the red and black flags stood for.
They were rewarded with a leaflet, and hopefully they
went away with a better impression of anarchists than the
one peddled by the media.
Mercifully, the size of the crowd meant that the paper
sellers were also swamped, so they were only really in
evidence at the beginning and the end. The rest of the
time was spent on a stroll through the (very cold) streets
of London, with occasional singing and chanting thrown in
for good measure. Every now and then, a ripple of noise
went through the crowd like an aural Mexican Wave, only
to return the other way some time later. A nice, and
effective, way of mass communication.
We passed the time laughing at the variety of
home-made banners that showed the inventiveness and
humour evident in the crowd. One simply read, "War is
Silly", whilst
another opined; "We have guided missiles and misguided
men". Cynical references to oil were abundant, and
included the plaintive; "How did our oil get under their
and the rather more direct; "Special Offer: 1p off each
gallon of petrol for 1 million dead Iraqis". Everyone
concurred with the wisdom of one woman's placard,
"The only Bush I trust is my own".
In Hyde Park, there was music as well as the
predictable speeches. Mo Mowlam managed to get up
people's noses by declaring that; "This is a peaceful
demonstration" and
that "those who have come here to commit violence should
restrain themselves." There was absolutely no evidence of
any intended violence. Although no longer in the cabinet,
she clearly cannot resist New Labour control freakery. The
irony of having Mo Mowlam (known as 'Mrs. Churchill'
since her T.V. championing of Winston as the greatest
Briton) address a crowd on the morals of war-mongering
was not lost on one contingent, who brought a banner
asking, "Who gassed the Kurds in 1924? - Winston
Since most people didn't need to be told why they were
marching by the invited speakers, many left as soon as
they got to Hyde Park in order to start making their way

The local constabulary were their usual helpful selves -
at Green Park, the boys in blue could be spotted sending
people back into and across the oncoming march,
towards a locked underground station. We weren't sure
which crowd management technique this came under, and
remonstrated audibly with the gentlemen in question
when a crush
began to develop. It was particularly heartening to have
immediate support from a number of women who had
children with them, who warned our Wonderful British
Bobbies; 'Get
your act together'. This was a nice bit of authority-
flouting, which came from people who had probably never
protested against anything before in their lives, let alone
considered questioning a police officer. Sweet!
Overwhelmingly, the march showed that people are
beginning to question the lies that are fed to them daily.
Even if many people on the march were there for the
issue of the war, they have taken the first step of seeing
through the spin and the misinformation over Iraq. It's
only a first step, but maybe - just maybe - they will
start to question the bigger lies about our political and
economic system. Here's hoping.

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