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Brian B | 19.03.2006 11:46 | March 18 Anti War Protest | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Social Struggles | London

Personal account of the anti-war rally at Trafalgar Square in London and comment on the Stop the War movement.

My account:
I believe the anti-war movement needs to reflect on current tactics. I am someone who has supported the Stop the War Coalition for three years. I have been on every single national march but this time I had enough doubts that I decided not to go on the march this time. I went straight to Trafalgar Square - to see what people running the stalls were saying and also hear what the speakers were saying. It is clear that the coalition is short on finances with their calls for more donations. I did not donate anything because I am not inspired by the message and policy coming out from the Coalition, and I suspect that others are probably in a similar position.

Speeches on Iran - I believe that it was (but not certain) Andrew Murray who was helping to support the war agenda painting a picture against the 'regime'. Before we know it we really will have a war if this continues. It will not be supporting the people of Iran if they are invaded by the war criminals.

Jeremy Corbyn - Stop the War introducing Jeremy Corbyn an anti-war activist within his party is just wrong. He is working for the war party and I believe it the influence of the likes of him that watered down the official position at the time of the general election last year, which was that local groups should tell people merely to consider the positions of the candidates when deciding who to vote for (see It is exactly this position that meant that my local group was against any stronger position who felt that they could not take a stronger position and stuck hard to the baseline position of the Stop the War Coalition. This meant that while I was anti-war I could not present an anti-war position at election time. I could not believe it was happenning as I was helping out on a stall in the town centre, knowing that the Blair government. Considering the positions of candidates is what voters do anyway so that was not even a campaign. The alternative which was put forward as an alternative position at the Stop the War annual conference by the Green Party was to say people should not vote for the warmonger candidates and parties. This was strangely voted against by a majority at the annual conference of the Stop the War Coalition. This was very disappointing and meant that individuals like me could not present a message saying not to vote for pro-war candidates. My view is that that election was (or should have been) the most important time for the anti-war movement since the Iraq war started. I am surprised that no-one in the movement is talking about this issue. I tried discussing this to one woman helping to run a Socialist Worker stall at the rally, who listened but I believe she was in denial and asked if the official position did not mean vote anti-war then what did it mean? My answer was that it was basically a very weak position. Okay, it's hard to accept this is happening especially if you have invested your spare time for three years. I can understand the view that not everyone can get involved in direct action and I would prefer a democracy-first approach, but if the Coalition does not want to take a position at election time and does not want to use direct action then how do they want to stop war?

A 'mood' was created by speakers saying that they could 'feel' that Tony Blair's judgement day was coming (saying it will not be god that judges you but us, and we are judging you). This was just sinister. They provided no evidence that Tony Blair will not just continue doing what he is now. It was like something from George Orwell's 1984 (and shown on the anti-war coalition's own 'telescreen in the Square'). Perhaps they expect us to have some blind belief that something is happening.

To top this all off when the Stop the War activities ended (quite early at just after 4 o'clock), I went off to Parliament Square and spoke to a few people there. I heard from one of the supporters of Brian Haw that he had asked Tony Benn if he could speak at the rally in Trafalgar Square, thinking that Benn was a supporter, and that as the President of the Stop War Coalition he could pull a few strings. However Brian was refused permission (Benn saying it is not just him that decides) when there would have been plenty of time to allow him to speak. I was also told by this supporter of Brian Haw that it was not the only occasion when he has been refused at the marches. I was very surprised when I had previously assumed that Brian Haw was unable to speak because he had to save his place at Parliament Square - not the reason. While Brian Haw was thanked by one of the speakers for being there they denied him the opportunity to speak. Why is an anti-war coalition censoring the message put out at marches and what are they afraid of?

Overall I thought the speeches were the least inspiring of any of the marches I have been on previously. At the end of the day partipants in the anti-war movement need to realise that if you have taking a particular approach for three years and it's had no effect then. The Stop the War Coalition wanted me to march but I am afraid that my decision (and it was a hard one, not taken lightly) was that if they want someone to march against Tony Blair then they could do it themselves this time.

To discuss the war, yesterday's march and any other anti-war issues please see the mini discussion forum that I have set up at this address:
Please be aware that this is currently experimental and quite basic as I have not set up a discussion forum like this before and is on an internet account with limited memory space.

Brian B
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Display the following 7 comments

  1. Benn, Blair's agent, speaks so that ***you*** will remain silent — twilight
  2. Where's the proof? — Kev Connor
  3. Re:Where's the proof? — Brian B
  4. If you’re unhappy with the STWC, change it! — Kev Connor
  5. Re:If you’re unhappy with the STWC, change it! — Brian B
  6. Out on the edge of lunacy... — Sarah Barryment
  7. Re:Re:If you’re unhappy with the STWC, change it! — Kevin Connor


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