LONDON – Tony Blair may be President Bush’s only European ally in his drive for war on Iraq. But the people of the UK today forcibly demonstrated their opposition to forcible regime change.
This afternoon, at least 350,000 people from all over the United Kingdom descended upon the corridors of power for a massive and peaceful “Don’t Attack Iraq/Freedom for Palestine” march and rally, Sept. 28, here.
The action was the largest of its kind in the UK in 30 years. It was dramatic, and so large that it was truly impossible to guage its size. Certainly it numbered in the hundreds of thousands of people of every ethnicity, age and class.
Recent polls show that 70 percent opposed Britain joining a U.S.-led military action. “There is not just opposition to the prospect of war – there is boiling anger,” asserts Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War Coalition.
The turnout was a shot across the bow of Prime Minister Tony Blair and a preview of next week’s Labor Party Conference.
The demonstration was jointly sponsored by the Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain. It was endorsed by 12 national trade unions, numerous Muslim and anti-racist organizations, Members of Parliament and the Mayor of London.
Organizers have called for another “Don’t Attack Iraq Day” for Oct. 31.
“Opposition to this war in this country is the most incredible coalition I have ever seen,” says Jeremy Corbyn, a Labor MP.
“Since Sept. 11, Islamophobia has spread across the UK and activated the Muslim and South Asian populations,” said Asad Rehman, national organizer for the Stop the War Coalition and chairman of the Newham Monitoring Project. South Asians are the largest group of color in the UK, numbering about 15 percent in London alone.
“I didn’t go on earlier demonstrations but I am now because the countdown to war has started and I find it terrifying,” explained marcher Jemma Redgrave.
Robert “3-D” Del Naja, of the pop group Massive Attack, says “I am marching because I feel very disheartened about our government and the way it reacts to America and American foreign policy.”
Meanwhile, in Parliament, Labor Party members are staging a revolt against Blair’s Iraq policy. They warn that the 56-strong rebellion of this week is just a warm-up. Blair also faces powerful opposition at next week’s national Labor Party conference.
Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, the third largest in the UK, declared his opposition to what he called the U.S.’s “imperialist” policy.
Bob Wing is the editor of War Times (www.war-times.org). The article here is excerpted with permission.