Demonstrators in London braved atrocious weather to voice a strong, concerted response against the airstrikes in Iraq and the extension of war into Syria.
THE DEMONSTRATION on 4 October 2014 was an important marker in the campaign against Iraq war 3. More than 2000 demonstrators braved atrocious weather to demonstrate at short notice against the airstrikes now being carried out in Iraq and the extension of this war into Syria.
The demonstration, called at short notice, was a springboard for activity round the country. There were delegations from among other places South Wales, Manchester, Birmingham, Ipswich, Cambridge, Reading, Liverpool and Nottingham.
There were also protests in Newcastle and Glasgow.
Demonstrators heard speakers from national unions Unite and NUT, from civil liberties campaigner Victoria Brittain, fashion designer Katherine Hamnett, journalist Seumas Milne, NUS executive member Aaron Kiely, a speaker from the Kurdish community in London, and from Stop the War and CND.
The speakers put a very different case from that usually heard by politicians and media. They all condemned ISIS, and there was a minute's silence in memory of Alan Henning, and the civilian casualties of the airstrikes. But many argued that ISIS was a product of previous government foreign policy, and of funding and support from western allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Others argued that it was the war on terror itself which had created more terrorism through its policies which created grievances in Muslim countries. Airstrikes and supposedly humanitarian intervention have made the situation worse in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.
The urgent need now is to use the vitality on the demonstration to spread the message across the country. Cameron has said that this is going to be a long war, so the anti war movement needs to build a strong and concerted response. We are asking all our supporters and members to do the following.
1. Help to organise and build local groups. This campaign needs to be taken into every town and city in the country. At present majority opinion supports air strikes (but not ground troops), and this itself is a turnaround from early August where opinion was fairly evenly divided. It is hardly surprising that this shift has taken place, given the terrible beheadings and the sense that something has to be done, but it is one that we can go some way towards countering.
2. If you have an existing group, or one which has lapsed into inactivity, now is the time to get it going again. Contact old and new supporters, call a meeting, if necessary elect new officers, and plan activity. If you are starting from scratch, try to organise a get together of a few people and launch an activists meeting from there. We can help with materials, speakers etc.
3. Get out on the streets. Petitions and stalls, vigils and protests, are all relatively easy to organise. In every case, we will win new people around us.
4. Hold a public meeting. You should try to get speakers who refelct the breadth of the anti war movement. We will always provide a STW speaker if requested.
5. Get together a letter to your local paper with people from the area signing, go for a range including trade unionists, faith groups, community activists, MPs and councillors if appropriate, local celebrities.
6. Plan activities in the event of any extension of the war.
7. Try to win affiliations from local trade unions and other bodies. Collect donations to help fund activities and pay for transport for demonstrations.
8. Join the anti war and peace block on the big TUC demonstration in London on 18th October. We want an anti war message to come through loud and clear as part of the movement against austerity
9. Send us your ideas and suggestions for campaigning.
10. Join Stop the War Coalition, we need to increase our membership to fight these wars.
Speeches from the demonstration rally
Jeremy Corbyn MP