Brian B | 25.02.2007 20:34 | Terror War
As usual the speeches had already started by the time of arriving at Trafalgar Square. There the marchers were treated to speeches from amongst others Caroline Lucas, Galloway, Lindsey German, Sami Ramadani. I can't remember all the names. At the end was what I think was one of the more important elements of the rally, which was a video shown of the Mayor of Hiroshima sending a message about the anti-war protest. This Mayor said (although I cannot remember the exact words) that anti-war protest in London showed that protest against war and Trident showed that the deaths and suffering of thousands in Hiroshima had not gone in vain.
At the very end STW allowed Brian Haw to speak. He was very energetic and for once there was someone shouting louder than Galloway. His message included repeated calls to remember the kids affected by war with his shouts of 'It's the kids stupid'. Brian Haw also asked why there were not 5 million people marching against the massacre of kids which is a good point. Excellent stuff and it was good that he was allowed to speak, although only at the very end when a lot of people had already left to go home.
Overall I thought the speeches were a little bit better than last time I went to a march. However there was more emphasis placed on pulling the troops out of Iraq, no attack on Iran and no Trident replacement. I did not hear all of the speeches because they had all started by the time I arrived, the sound was not clear enough from where I was standing and I spent a bit of time looking at the various stalls. However from what I could tell there was not much mention of Afghanistan. Blair announced that 1600 troops would be pulled out from Iraq. Then almost immediately after that annoucement it became clear that at the same time another 1000 would be sent to Afghanistan. Obviously this announcement was too late to be considered at the time of the organisation and slogans to be decided on for this march. It has however been obvious that the offensive against Afghanistan has been escalating for nearly a year now. I heard Jeremy Corbyn MP mentioning Afghanistan but where he called strongly for troops to be pulled out from Iraq he did not call for the same for Afghanistan.
In the latest newsletter from Voices in the Wilderness (p4 in Feb/Mar '07 edition) they say "With the fall of the Taliban in Oct 01 Afghanistan fell off the agenda of the UK anti-war movement. As the civilian death toll continues to mount, there is a desperate need for it to be placed firmly back on it." I think that now is the time for the war against Afghanistan, which is already in progress (as opposed to Iran) to be brought back to prominence within the anti-war movement.
One group that had a stall at Trafalgar Square was calling for a strike on Tuesday March 20th 2007 with an authorised demonstration in Parliament Square. I would think that some people will find it hard to strike, with people in employment not having any right to strike especially on a political issue (correct me if I am wrong). However see website at http://peacestrike.org.
A flier from CND was publicising a lobby on the day of a 'Commons' debate on Trident replacement some time in March 1-6pm and then a rally afterwards 6-8pm. The date for this was not stated. There is a website at http://tridentvoteday.org.uk
An important question for me would be will this march have made even one iota of difference. Well perhaps due to the incessant repetition of calls to buy the new song from the Stop the War coalition by texting the number that was flashed on the video screen a thousand times or through buying on the internet, maybe the song might reach the top 40. However on the subject of Iraq, Blair has already announced a phased pullout of troops, so will the march have made any change to the prospects of bringing forward this pullout at all and will Trident be abolished. I honestly cannot see how any of that will be stopped due to the march or petition to stop any attack on Iran. There were also requests for donations to STW, but would I want to continue paying towards this organisation when it took a fairly neutral position at the time of the general election and rejected calls for a stronger position to call for voters to select candidates and parties opposed to the Iraq war?