LONDON – Over 400,000 peace protesters poured into central London Nov. 20 in a deafening display of anger at “Texan terrorist” George Bush’s state visit.
Campaigners traveled from all across Britain and abroad to add their voices to the massive protest against Bush’s murderous campaign of preemptive war. Workers took days off and children walked out of school to join the Stop the War Coalition’s march, which snaked through the heart of the capital, bringing the city to a standstill.
The demonstration was the largest ever seen on a weekday, continuing the coalition’s track record of record-breaking rallies.
Bush and his entourage were clearly rattled by the size of the demonstration, with his cavalcade sneaking out of the back entrance to Downing Street 10 minutes before marchers entered the area near Whitehall.
Camden school student Eleanor Fairbanck said that she had ignored threats of detention or suspension to attend the protest. “What Bush has done and is doing is totally wrong,” she said. “That’s why so many people are here today – they see through him.”
Organizers had hoped to see 100,000 people at the event, but before the procession had reached its destination in Trafalgar Square, numbers were closer to 200,000 and were swelled even further when workers joined the rally after 5 p.m.
As the evening wore on, organizers toppled an 18-foot golden papier-mâché statue of Bush, in a parody of the stage-managed destruction of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad. The crowd counted down before the Bush statue was toppled and a mighty roar shook the square.
Leading figures in the peace movement addressed the crowd, condemning the warmongering president and his fawning conspirator Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said, “We’ve had a massive turnout today and we’ve shown the world what we think of Bush, Blair and their rotten war.”
Peace-campaigning parliament member George Galloway agreed: “Tony Blair added insult to injury by bringing this ignorant, foolish and dangerous man to these shores and I think we are speaking for the majority of the country.”
Lecturers’ union NATFHE General Secretary Paul Mackney noted that Bush had hoped that this British visit would boost his re-election chances next year, “but we’ve rained on his parade. … We will not tolerate this ridiculous visit by this absurd man, which is costing us millions,” he said.
Muslim Association of Britain spokesman Anas Altikriti congratulated protesters for “telling George Bush to his face how we feel and what we want.”
Caroline Lucas, a Green deputy to the European Parliament, praised protesters for the huge turnout. She observed that, while the prime minister may be an ally of the criminal Bush administration, the British people are not. “The problem is not just Bush but also the man who invited him,” she said, referring to Blair. “He is equally guilty as he took us to war in a mesh of lies.”
Dismissing government accusations that protesters were “anti-American,” Lucas said, “We are against the U.S. administration which has turned the country into the worst rogue state in the world.”
Reprinted from the Morning Star (UK).