Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/276/24496
FOLLOWING ON from the massive 400,000 strong anti-war demonstration of 28 September, the Stop the War Coalition called for a day of action against war with Iraq on 31 October.
The Socialist Party was actively involved in building for support for action in many areas. Below we bring reports of some of the anti-war actions that took place in England and Wales.
Building The Action Against The War
THE LARGEST event was the 4,000-strong demonstration outside Parliament which included thousands of students from the LSE, Goldsmiths and other London colleges.
Speakers pointed out that the real debate against the war was taking place there and not in the Houses of Parliament opposite.
Socialist Student members at Brunel University, West London, walked into lectures urging students to join a protest. As the protest weaved its way round the lecture theatres, tutors found themselves unable to compete with the anti-war chants.
The protest finished in the main canteen where our slogan of 'education not war' drowned the lunchtime din and then marched down to the main demo in central London
In Waltham Forest 200 protesters led by sixth form students formed a lively demo that stopped the traffic for a short time and drew a lot of support from people rushing home from work.
Over 100 students at Warwick University took part in a lively protest outside the Senate House. Around 200 students voted overwhelmingly for an anti-war motion, including the demand to occupy the Senate House, at an Emergency General Meeting of the students union.
We marched to Senate House only to find the security had locked the doors - so instead we blocked the entrance. A well attended meeting afterwards agreed to to set up a Stop the War group at the university.
In Liverpool over 300 people blockaded Lime Street from 6pm to 6.30pm, stopping the traffic. There was a good atmosphere, with a large number of young people on the protest.
In Manchester the day began with University of Manchester students blocking the road, continuing with a teach-in, a demonstration of 100 at 1pm, and then an occupation by 70 students for several hours before joining the main demonstration.
600 students, workers, and youth marched through Manchester demanding an end to Bush and Blair's war.
Over 70 students and staff from Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan University temporarily occupied a lecture theatre in the Business School to symbolise the commercialisation of education.
This was the beginning of a series of short occupations throughout the day, which included the local offices of the BBC. This action was kindled by the media's reluctance to cover any of the events or actions being taken across the country against war with Iraq.
The day culminated at 5.30pm as hundreds of protesters gathered outside Yorkshire Television studios. The protest was made up of workers, students and a large contingent from the Muslim community including many young women.
3-400 protested in Bristol. A new Socialist Party member Katy, did a speech against the war at her workplace after getting her boss to agree to add 15 minutes on to the dinner break.
In Leicester Socialist Party member Richard spoke at the beginning of a couple of lectures to hundreds of students about the campaign.
Leicester SP members then set up with banners, megaphone and petitions outside the SU building.
Virtually all students agreed that the war was a case of imperialist aggression by a US administration keen on paying its oil industry backers.
Hundreds marched through Leicester on 2 November. The police had banned the march from going through an area with a high Muslim population.
This is the third time the Leicester Campaign to Stop the War has been affected by police bans. The march went ahead but there was a heavy police presence to make sure we followed the police imposed route.
The rally in the city centre was chaired by Socialist Party member Steve Score and speakers included Josie Nicholls on behalf of the Socialist Party, the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq, the Indian Workers' Association and Muslim organisations.
In Brighton, a lively, passionate and entirely peaceful action was broken up by riot police. Armed with pepper spray and batons they charged into the retreating demonstration from behind.
At its height about 1,000 people took part in the march around the town centre, including many students and first-time demonstrators.
Many people came out of their homes to join the march along its route, whilst others threw open windows and rushed out onto their balconies to call out their support.
Cardiff Socialist students' society organised a demo of over 70 students to march from the students' union to meet the main demo in the city-centre.
We got to the Bevan statue just before 6pm and continued chanting until the rest of the 300 strong demo arrived.
We then marched to the US consulate with Lyndon, a new member of International Socialist Resistance (ISR), on the megaphone.
We had two banners, one from our Cardiff society and another thanks to the Pontypridd Socialist Students who came down in support.
Outside the US consulate the main chant was 'one two three four we don't want your bloody war, five six seven eight spend the money to educate' with Lyndon leading the way.
Members of Socialist Students and the Socialist Party were interviewed by the BBC for Panorama.
What's Happening Next?
AFTER THE success of the 31 October day of action, the Stop The War Coalition discussed what actions should follow to maintain and build the momentum of campaigning against the threatened war on Iraq.
Another national demonstration has been pencilled in for 15 February 2003, which is being billed as an 'Occupy London' day. There is a strong possibility that action against Iraq could begin before the demo - possibly in early January - and the Coalition is also encouraging local groups to organise actions in the run-up to the demonstration and acts of civil disobedience on the day military action starts.
The Coalition has also agreed to organise a national conference - to be held at the Camden Centre in London on 7 December.
This will be a delegate conference, where national and local affiliates will be entitled to representation and also any individual who is affiliated to the Coalition will be entitled to vote.
Socialist Party members who are in affiliated organisations should urgently try to ensure they can become delegates to the conference and put forward nominations and resolutions.
Resolutions and nominations for the Steering Committee should be sent to office of the Stop the War Coalition by 1 December.
The address is: PO Box 3739, London E5 8EJ. Tel: 020 7053 2155/6 or email to email@example.com.
Please send copies to Ken Smith, Socialist Party representative on the Stop the War Coalition Steering Committee at:
Socialist Party, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In The Socialist 8 November 2002: