FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Taking It to London’s Streets

by TARIQ ALI

 

London: Saturday 28th September. It was a beautiful clear blue sky. No mists but a great deal of mellow fruitfulness. The Stop the War Coalition— a united front that includes socialists of most stripes, liberals and radicals, pacifists and the moderate Muslim groups—-had expected 200,000 people, but the mood in Britain was uneasy and large numbers of people, many of them conservative or even apolitical, had decided to swell the march.

The week before the march, New Labour issued the so-called Blair dossier, a farrago of half-truths and stale facts was a very crude attempt at war propaganda. It backfired miserably. Blair was at his worst. The grinning disk-jockey in clerical mode. Everything reduced to a pseudo-morality tale.

War-talk and piety is such an ugly combination. It may have convinced his ghastly cabinet, a bunch of mediocrities, most of whom would find it difficult to gain employment elsewhere.

Blair prefers it like this: in the land of the blind, the one-eyed beggar is king.

The DAILY MIRROR, a leading London tabloid devoted 8 pages to denouncing the dossier and Blair. This newspaper has turned decisively after 9/11, in sharp contrast to its rivals and ‘betters’.

The only pro-war piece in the paper, hallucinatory on every level and published to give the White House a voice, appeared under the byline of the former NATION columnist, Christopher Hitchens. The man with the Orwell-complex has fallen really low. He will fall further.

No war in Iraq; Justice for Palestine were the themes that united everyone present on Saturday 28th September. .Murdoch’s Sky TV reported 400,000 . Irish radio insisted there were half-a-million. Channel Five News said ‘over a quarter of a million’. Only BBC TV reported the ‘police figure’ of 150,000.

Let’s be modest. Let’s accept that there were over 350,000 people who came from all parts of the country to show their contempt for Tony Blair and his backing for Bush’s planned war against Iraq.

I met people, old and young, who had never been on a demonstration before. Rites of passage. And the mood was one of defiance and anger.

The new wave of trade-union leaders who have been elected to defy the New Labour Thatcherites were solidly against the war. Bob Crow, the 40–something leader of the railway workers denounced Blair in vitriolic language. So did Mark Serotka from the Civil Servants Union and others.

Then there was Tony Benn and George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn (the last two still Members of Parliament) spoke for the Labour Party members opposed to Blair.

It was the Jewish sabbath. So the contingent of Hassidic Jews could not speak, but their moving plea for Palestinian rights was read by a young Muslim from Leicester.

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, was also there strongly denouncing the Prime Minister. Many Londoners heaved a sigh of relief when Blair refused to let Livingstone back in the Labour Party. No longer needing to suck up to the New Labour leadership, Livingstone shifted his position once again. Sometimes opportunism can lead in the left direction.

Nobody on the demonstration was taken in by the talk of a UN-led war being somehow more acceptable than a Bush-Blair attack. The British peace movement, for one, will not be taken in if the permanent members of the UNSC allow their arms to be twisted and their purses filled by the Bushmen.

Here the movement will continue. And when the bombs begin to drop there will be acts of non-violent civil disobedience all over the country.

We need the same in the United States.

TARIQ ALI is an editor of New Left Review and a frequent contributor to CounterPunch. This article is extracted from his new book The Clash Of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads And Modernity, published by Verso.

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail