TAKiNG THE STREETS OF EDiNBURGH – DAY TWO

Jul 02, 2005

Second report from the streets and campsites of Scotland

Saturday 2 July
Up early as it’s hard to sleep in a tent when the sun’s up. The local people have arranged for us to use the hot showers in the neighbouring sports centre – they open at 8am, are plentiful and so appreciated. There’s a queue but plenty of showers to accommodate everyone. Round the other side of the centre, they’re selling tea coffee, biscuits and rolls. there’s even a free internet room with four terminals in it. Now that’s proper camping for protesters!

9.30am Group of GR folks go down to the Meadows to set up the stall. Myself and a few others hang around for the feeder march into town – the one we were promised last night. I’m thinking it’s a long schlep into town, and start wandering at 10am, the appointed time, that seeing as there’s a free bus service into the city, perhaps everyones decided it’s not really the day for an extra 5 mile march? Half an hour later we decide this is most definitely the case, we get the shuttle bus.

11am The day has really hotted up, the fields are packed with people – it’s hard to tell how many because there’s three main fields for the assembly. The ‘radical’ elements have been ‘ghettoised’ in the Stop the War field, but it’s not that bad, there’s anti-war placards everywhere. the Basil Fawlty attitude of “Don’t mention the war” hasn’t prevailed. We get the massive banner out and think of joining the march. We make our way towards the gate and join the queue. The queue isn’t making much progress, so we wait. And wait. And wait. It’s a good sign, a slow start means a huge march. We wait for a couple of hours before making much progress at all, after a while we find ourselves suddenly stuck behind the National Union of Teachers contingent. They spend much time at work telling people not to push in, then as soon as they’re out of school….

1pm Nip off to get a coffee, and happen to walk into the other stage area where Walden Bello is speaking. He rails against the war, drawing links between poverty and war. the organisers really didn’t want this, but he goes down very well indeed.

3.00pm The banner and the contingent we’ve formed gets to march, I’m at the stall in the blazing sun, fending off a couple of lively 6/7 year olds from Leeds who think violence on such a demo is just fine, if it’s directed against the bloke on the Globalise Resistance stall. By all accounts the reaction to the GR contingent is very positive. Any idea of a rejection of an anti-war, more radical message on this march by anyone apart from the leaders of Make Poverty History is dispelled.

4.30pm The Stop the War Rally starts, there’s a pretty impressive line up of speakers, ones I’ll get to hear quite a bit over the next few days I reckon. Highlights of this rally were Walden Bello, who thanked people for helping him to get on the MPH second stage, Trevor Ngwane, George Monbiot, Lindsey German, John Rees and the finale from George Galloway. The police surround the rally, it’s announced later that they had ‘intelligence’ that there might be an attack on the rally and they were protecting us. Bizarre.

6pm The pubs are packed in Edinburgh, and the prices much more similar to London than the local in Niddrie we tried last night. There’s a celebratory atmosphere in town, and almost every pub has an MPH or G8 Alternatives poster in the window. Not many police to be seen, probably ‘dealing with’ street parties somewhere.

the rest of the day is a bit fuzzy in my mind….

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