UK marches to a different drum

Submitted by Anon on 21 March, 2003 - 2:24

Over the last two weeks many cities in the UK have seen their biggest demonstrations for years, and in some cases ever. Here are some reports.

The biggest demonstration in York in living memory was proclaimed from the speakers' platform outside York Minster on Saturday 15 March, as police estimated that almost 5,000 protestors rallied against the war. Organised by York Stop the War, the march and rally was attended by groups from as far afield as North Lincolnshire and Scarborough.

The rally was addressed by Lindsay German and Asad Rahman of the national StWC, as well as Frank Ormston, speaking on behalf of the York Socialist Alliance.

The demonstration was characterised by the large numbers of young people on it, including many school students. Unison apart, the unions had a very low profile, compared to the many obvious "first-timers" in attendance.

Richard Bayley


Between 3-4000 people marched through Leeds on Saturday 15 March. Feeder marches came in from Harehills, Beeston and the University. The crowd was very diverse with lots of "protest virgins" and a large number of homemade banners and placards.

The make up of this march confirmed the emergence of a new young generation prepared to make their voices heard on political issues. A number of Leeds schools saw walkouts or lunchtime sit-in protests on 5 March, and many of the pupils who took part were on the demo. The idea that young people are apathetic or switched off from any concerns outside their own world has certainly been discredited over recent weeks.
There a good turnout from the Asian community and one of the most successful multi-cultural schools in the country, Primrose High School, came with their own banner. There were many local trade union activists, but the union presence was not as great as it should have been.

The rally heard speakers from the school students, the Coalition, MAB, and Labour MPs who have voted against war.

Supporters of the Alliance for Workers' Liberty produced a large "No To War, No to Saddam" banner and similar placards. Together with comrades from the Worker-communist Party of Iraq we marched behind this banner and distributed the Appeal for international solidarity and a democratic foreign policy. The response was entirely positive.

Pat Murphy


On Thursday 6 March about 3,000 people marched through Edinburgh from the American embassy to the Scottish Parliament.

Many people were present who have never been on a march before.

Police tried to push people out of the street into the dead end in front of the Parliament, to enable traffic to pass but that was not possible. There were just too many people.

Peter Burton


On 8 March between 10-15,000 marched through Manchester in the pouring rain. Our Manchester Alliance for Workers' Liberty "No to War, No to Saddam" banner went down well with everybody except the left! As did our placards with the same slogan. Virtually every leftie I have ever met was there. The nearness of war and the actual real likelihood of British troops being involved does not seem to have diminished anti-war sentiment.

Mark Catterall


Nottingham also marched on 8 March, with about 2,000 people.

The speaker from the Worker-communist Party of Iraq, comrade Jasm, made a particularly pointed remark about opposing Saddam and got a good cheer.

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