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).

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail