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50,000 March To End The War
At least 50,000 people marched through central London on Saturday demanding an end to war on Afghanistan. Protesters poured into London from all over England and Wales. The Socialist Party's contingent queued for one hour and 40 minutes to get out of Hyde Park; an indication of how big the demonstration was.
This shows that a sizeable anti-war movement exists in Britain even at this early stage. Blair will not be able to dismiss this demonstration or ignore the huge display of anger and indignation at his prosecution of the war on Afghanistan.
Thousands of young people have been stirred into political activity by the onset of Bush and Blair's war. Our contingent was mainly made up of young people and was led by a group of school students.
Also significant were the hundreds of Muslims who took part; for many of them it was their first political demonstration. The anti-war movement needs to welcome their involvement and build upon it.
200 people listened to Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor, and other speakers outline the Party's analysis of the war at a street meeting at Speaker's Corner. Hundreds queued up to sign our petition and join the anti-war campaign.
We all need to re-double our efforts to build this campaign into a genuinely mass movement. Anti-war groups need to be established in every school, college and workplace. Coaches should be booked now for the next national demonstration on 18 November. Where Socialist Party members booked coaches for Saturday's demo they were all full.
All the indications are that November's demonstration will be even bigger. The first reports of civilian casualties are coming in. What we said all along is being vindicated- there is no such thing as a precision bomb or smart missile.
Many ordinary Afghans will be killed and injured in this bloody conflict. The big powers never go to war in the interests of the poor and the oppressed but only ever in their own interests. This war will not solve the problem of terrorism or put an end to reactionary regimes in Afghanistan.
As this becomes apparent to more and more people the movement will grow; let's ensure that it is a powerful force that puts an end to this war.
In The Socialist 19 October 2001: