The Battle to get to Gleneagles

Jul 02, 2005

Wednesday morning 4am torrential rain in the campsite means my cheap poundstretcher tent is getting waterlogged at a super fast rate, “it will subside” i think but no it keeps on raining so in the end I give up, get dressed and head for the dryness of the large marquee on the site that has been used as a space for the evenings collective meetings.

Many of the security guards looking after the camp are also in there, getting shelter. A feisty discussion starts up about global capitalism- can we get rid of it? how? Most of the guards are on less than minimum wage, so they don’t need to be told about the shitiness of neo-liberialism they live it everyday, we talk about the miners, the 70′s and loads more, can ordinary people fight back and win? We explain more about the movement, how it’s been building the breakthrough’s its had, they’re on our side there’s no doubting that, so when 9am comes round they say “Good luck!” and we’re off to Gleneagles!

…or so we thought…

The first wave of buses come and go, leaving about 200 of us at the gates of the camp, no buses….10.30…no buses….11…no buses have a quick discussion and decide to go into town to the other bus departure point where we know about another 800 or so are still waiting to.

So onto the shuttle bus from the campsite to get us into town, the bus drops us off on the the other side of town to where the other contingent are so we form up and make a spontaneous march through Edinburgh holding our blue ‘Shut Down the G8!’ banner, people come out of the shops as we’re chanting ‘whose streets, our streets’, ‘our world is not for sale, put the bankers into jail’ and the perrenial fave ‘a-anti-anti-capitalista!’

As we go over the bridge we see the other protestors waiting, the police look edgy, and come to surround us, huge cheers go up as we meet the others. Bizarrely we are right outside of one of Edinburghs poshest hotels, we hear later that Sir Bob and George Clooney are inside, they were due to make a statement to the press but police had advised them that it was best not to in the circumstances!

We all march off -surrounded by hundreds of police- down Princes Street in full view of the mainly sympathetic shoppers out on the high street. Shouts from the crowd make it clear that police are denying our right to protest (we find out from friends at Gleneagles that the police had told the bus company the march was banned and to send all the buses back to the garages), the march splits some think it’s too late (it was around 12.30) to get to Gleneagles, some fear getting on buses will lead to being stopped and searched for hours in side roads (as was happening to the early coaches), they went off continuing to protest down Princes Street and ulitmately to face more violence from the Manchester police later- the rest of us move toward a few coaches that have miraculously turned up and were parked on the edge of the high street.

The bus drivers refuse to go, their boss still was saying it was banned, they try to drive off-we sit in front of the buses to stop them, Haidi Guliani, whose son Carlo was murdered in Genoa, locks herself into the first bus and refuses to move. Some people who are VERY angry have come up on Bob’s say so “Where is the organisation they say?” We say Bob can’t help you, but if there’s space on our bus you can come. BBC TV crews wander around mistakenly assuming that we’re all here because Bob told us to be! I get interviewed and put them straight we are here to protest the war criminals Bush and Bliar, and to shut down the G8 not to ask for crumbs off the table (ok, I doubt it went out!)

Eventually after ages of negotiation we are allowed on, then quite bizarrely we are given a police escort out of Edinburgh onto the motorway, driving through red lights as we go! Free at last we speed up the motorway and there we are – Gleneagles – we get directed by the cops into a set of small local side roads near Auchterader the nearest town, finally we stop as a line of East Midlands police block our bus from going any further. We get off, the senior police officer says “The march is over – you’ll have to go straight back to Edinburgh!” Oh no you don’t mister! You could feel the mood of the protestors, tired but defiant! We have come this far we ain’t going back! Again a few quick negotiations and yes we are allowed through on foot! Again we form up and march behind our lovely ‘People Power – against war, privatisation and racism’ banner’ the local folk clap and cheer as we walk up Auchterader’s unfeasibly long high street to finally reach the rally sometime near 4pm – 7 bloody hours after we set out – for a 60 mile journey!

Once at the rally it’s obvious the march is not over thousands are coming back down from the area nearest the fence, having got to the fence in Genoa and blockaded successfully at Evian I couldn’t resist wandering up to see the flash point, as I do (effectively doing the march backwards) I see loads of friends, and finally get to the field and the fence, where moments before the menacing riot police stood a few metres away, batons at the ready, had been released from a Chinook helicopter! Experience tells me not to hang around, the fun of breaking through the fence has happened and now the police look ready to start getting heavy so back down to the rally field I go, to catch a few speeches from Trevor Ngwane the great South African activist and a few others.

On our way back we get a bit friendlier with our bus driver, who although a bit huffy on the way up (probably becasue of the police buggering him about sooo much), turns out to be a communist! As we career past Murrayfield stadium as we re-enter Edinburgh he makes the point that there are little to no police officers there despite the fact that there are 50,000 inside listening to the last final ‘push’ against the G8, yet look what we had to deal with – too bloody right!

And so we fought and we won, the police tried everything they could to stop us getting to Gleneagles (a legal demo, agreed by the scottish parliament remember) but we got there – but the worrying outline of the police state that is going to be required to police the inequalities that their future will bring us is already there; and the Labour MP’s who voted through the ID cards bill should hold their heads in shame you are a DISGRACE!

BUT the movement did it, it showed that it will not be cowed or sold out by those corporate shills Bono and Geldof, and if our discussion with the security guards, bus drivers and people on the streets are anything to go by, ordinary people understand the problem only to well, which means we need to keep going, keep growing, to make sure that there is a movement capable of connecting with the ordinary people desperate for another world so their is an future based on hope and peace and not the barbarism of ongoing war and horror of environmental collapse.

noel douglas

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