MANCHESTER, England — Thousands of peace protesters descended on this northern British city last weekend to tell Prime Minister Tony Blair to “take your wars and privatization with you when you go.”

Over 60,000 marchers from across Britain crammed the city center on Sept. 23 to march for peace and against a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons. Protesters encircled the meeting place of the annual Labor Party conference in the afternoon sunshine to cast a cloud of shame over Blair’s foreign and domestic policies.

At one point, the noisy demonstration fell silent as participants staged a great wave of symbolic dying to remember the countless lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

While British and U.S. private security companies and oil tycoons fill their pockets with blood money gained from these wars, speaker after speaker at the Albert Square rally roared, “Enough is enough, Blair and Bush.”

Muslim Association of Britain speaker Sondes Malik condemned the government’s “disgraceful” inaction as Israel killed over 1,000 Lebanese people this summer.

“Britain is led by war criminals and we want justice now,” she added.

Human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger warned: “There is more torture in Iraq now than under Saddam, and many children are starving to death. You cannot export democracy at the barrel of the gun, Mr. Blair.”

Veteran peace campaigner and former MP Tony Benn demanded an end to “this nonsense about the war on terror” and refuted media claims that protests like this were pointless. “I have been on enough marches and seen many movements succeed, such as that against South Africa’s apartheid.”

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German dismissed suggestions that Blair was on his last legs because of internal party bickering, which has intensified in recent months. “It is our movement against his wars which has finished him off,” she insisted. She also had a message for heir apparent Gordon Brown — “change policy or we will be back on the streets.”

Respect Coalition MP George Galloway made the observation that Blair and Brown were “two cheeks of the same arse.” He advised Brown to “cut the embryonic cord connecting us to U.S. foreign policy” or his premiership will be as stormy as his predecessor’s.

Military Families Against the War co-founder Rose Gentle praised Manchester’s “huge” support for the group’s three-day peace camp outside Blair’s luxury hotel. She had a message for the prime minister: “Before you go, do the honorable thing and bring our boys home. Don’t be a poodle — stand up to U.S. warmongering.”

Former air force surgeon Malcolm Kendall-Smith, who was jailed for refusing to go to Iraq, spoke of the “cracks” which are beginning to appear within the army as more and more soldiers wake up to the truth about their mission.

“The facts are clear,” he said. “The U.S. and Britain are the aggressors and responsible for countless deaths. The war is illegal and criminal.”

— Morning Star, UK

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