Between “50,000” and “60,000” people have demonstrated in the English city of Manchester to protest against the War in Iraq, Afghanistan and former war in Lebanon. The protestors want British troops withdrawn.
This is the first time a protest of this scale has been held out of England’s capital, London. It was Stop the War Coalition’s “Time to go” demonstration outside a conference arena where Labour delegates will meet.
The demonstrators began their journey in Manchester’s Albert Square and marched on a circular route around the city centre. Marchers demanded to get British troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq and for Tony Blair “to go.”
What they said
There was a strong regional turnout for Stop the War’s first national demonstration outside of London, with vast contingents from the north west of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands. An estimated 1,000 protesters travelled down from Scotland in coaches.
Many of the demonstrators were family members of killed British troops in Iraq. They held banners and camped outside the conference centre and hotel where Blair was staying. Blair is in Manchester for a labour meeting to be held today for 5 consecutive days.
Speakers included Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition and Rose Gentle from Military Families Against the War. Trade unions were represented by Tony Woodley, general secretary of the T&G, and Unison’s deputy general secretary Keith Sonnet.
Former Labour MP, George Galloway, who has been blunt in his previous addresses said “Blair is about to fall, not because of the economy, or a great social issue, he is about to fall for one reason … it is the wars, and the obscene Monica Lewinsky relationship he has entered into with George Bush.”
Soumaya Ghannoushi of the British Muslim Initiative, said “We stand for justice and liberation, while they stand for tyranny and oppression.”
The next speaker stunned demonstrators, it was none other than journalist Lauren Booth, who is the sister of Tony Blair’s wife. She lambasted Blair over his role in the Israel-Lebanon conflict. “I want him to feel ashamed!… that he didn’t push for an immediate cease fire in Lebanon and let it be flattened,” she said. “Yo Blair – it’s time to go, Blair,” she added.
The British do not support the “war on terror” and have recently prevailed in putting pressure on their Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to step down. The recent conflict in Lebanon when Blair flabbergasted his nation by supporting Israel had gone “too far” and was the catalyst in the official declaration of signatories to eliminate Blair as Prime Minister if he did not step down voluntarily. Blair announced he will exit parliament within a year.