On the question of war against Iraq Blair likes to portray himself as representing the opinions of the majority of people in this country. Opinion polls actually show the opposite is true. On Saturday, September 28, this was confirmed when the biggest anti-war demonstration ever seen in London took place with around 400,000 people taking part. This shows the real mood in Britain today.
Originally the police were claiming only 40,000 people had turned up for Saturday's anti-war demonstration. Actually that is the figure they had been expecting and had planned for. They were very soon forced to admit that there were 150,000 on the demo. But even this is a gross underestimate.
The real figure was much closer to 400,000. The demonstration left Embankment at about 1 pm. At 6 pm people were still filing into Hyde Park when all the speeches had already finished! Jeremy Corbyn, a left Labour MP, pointed out that the anti-war demo took as long to file past as the Countryside Alliance demonstration a week earlier, so they were probably of the same size. The media claimed that the Countryside Alliance demonstration was 400,000-strong. The media and the police always try to play down the size of left-wing demonstrations. In the case of the Countryside Alliance, because it was backed by rich Tories, they probably played up the size of the demo.
The anti-war demonstration attracted people from all walks of life. Some newspaper reports tried to play down the significance of this demonstration, trying to get the message across that ordinary people in Britain are not really bothered about this issue. But they are very wrong. There were many trade union banners on the demonstration. Important national trade union leaders had actually given their official backing to the protest.
Such a huge participation in Saturday's demonstration is part of a wider process taking place in Britain. It shows that a huge wave of subterranean opposition is now coming to the surface. The next period will be completely different to the one we have been through. A new period of class struggle is opening up in which millions of workers and youth will be looking for an alternative to this rotten capitalist system.
October 1, 2002