Tagged: Tony Blair

We Are Many: 15th February 2003 Nine Years On

Nine years ago today more than fifteen million people marched against the Iraq war in cities all over the world. Over a million of those were in London, despite the freezing cold – and I was one of them.

I’ve been on many huge demos since that day, but never one quite that big or quite that impassioned. Almost certainly the biggest demonstration in British history, it brought together people from all walks of life and from all over the UK – all of whom were demanding one thing: that Tony Blair’s government must not go to war against Iraq.

In an article published in The Observer the following day, Euan Ferguson described the remarkable turnout:

There were, of course, the usual suspects – CND, Socialist Workers’ Party, the anarchists. But even they looked shocked at the number of their fellow marchers: it is safe to say they had never experienced such a mass of humanity.

There were nuns. Toddlers. Women barristers. The Eton George Orwell Society. Archaeologists Against War. Walthamstow Catholic Church, the Swaffham Women’s Choir and Notts County Supporters Say Make Love Not War (And a Home Win against Bristol would be Nice). They won 2-0, by the way. One group of SWP stalwarts were joined, for the first march in any of their histories, by their mothers. There were country folk and lecturers, dentists and poulterers, a hairdresser from Cardiff and a poet from Cheltenham.

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2010: The Politics of (In)difference and Similarity

Now we’re a month into it, I suspect that it’s still too much to hope (perhaps) that 2010 will be a better year politically than the last. I suspect things will pick up where they left off at the end of last year and we’ll get another twelve months of bitching and moaning – but very little action on behalf of our elected ‘representatives’ in Westminster. Quelle surprise.

I can’t help being so cynical. I used to be a full-blown idealist (and I still hold firm to an arguably idealistic belief in the necessity of peace, equality and fairness, despite everything), but the more I learned about and the more I understood the way the political system in this country works, the less convinced I was by its weasel words (ie, not at all), and the less I believed in the possibility of it being an agent for and a necessary force in creating positive change.

Cynicism comes naturally after that.

2009 did little to disabuse me of this belief. All in all, it was a pretty sorry year, politically speaking –  although no matter how much you despise the government of the day (and no matter how enjoyable the schadenfreude), it is never comfortable viewing to watch them dig themselves deeper and deeper into a pit of infamy; that same pit of infamy which Tony Blair played such a prominent role in originally (re) opening up back in 1997.

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