Time to Go – Manchester 23rd September 2006

Sep 25, 2006

Stop the War Demonstration

Incredibly, between two typically Manchester days of rain, Saturday 23 September was a bright and sunny and cheerful day, and masses of people packed the streets of Manchester for the Stop the War demo. A small number of us were on the London Peace Train and were privileged enough to have top class speakers and entertainment laid on. Bianca Jagger, Tony Benn, Craig Murray, Yvonne Ridley and our very own Alex Callinicos all spoke at meetings up and down the train, with Stop the War using Globalise Resistance ideas, tactics, and labour in getting the train discussing and fired up for the protest.

The demo itself was a joy, not sure how long the protest was, but we had a huge impact on the city and it’s population. Circling the GMEX conference venue and passing by the site of the Peterloo massacre way back in 1819, and loads of speeches at the end, notably the editor of the Lancet who gave a rip-roarer, along with many of the familiar names. In the Square at the end of the protest, Noel Douglas, from GR staged a guerilla art exhibition using images which condemned the war, alongside a rather nasty portrait of Tony Blair sitting in pastel splendour, alongside many really hard hitting smaller images of victims of war. These violent pictures were taken as ‘trophy’ pictures primarily by US soldiers in Iraq. The contrast was stark, the sanitised picture of Blair, with the direct effects of his policies, pictures that are usually kept from our view. The police were also interested, and tried to stop the exhibition from being suspended from sticky tape stretched between two lampposts in the square, but they relented saying “If we get one complaint, that’s all coming down”. We got thirsty before the complaints started. Then in true ‘we’re not organising this demo’ style, the pubs and northern prices beckoned.

 

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