The Stop the War march today was truly amazing. It was only the third march I’ve ever been on (the first being immediately after September 11th when we were all terrified the US would lash out in retaliation, and the second last autumn, also against the impending war). My wife and I got to the Embankment at about 2pm and shuffled along with the good-humoured and highly cosmopolitan crowd, a great swathe of ages, backgrounds and political persuasions. There was a fantastic sense of humour present on the placards people were holding, such as a picture of Bush with his head split open in Monty Python fashion and an arrow pointing in saying EMPTY WAR-HEAD, a wooden placard stick with BUSH IS A PLANK written on it, and a picture of Blair’s face with his eyes replaced with Bush’s and the slogan BLUSH. This image was a very shrewd revamping of the old Tory “demon eyes” campaign, where Blair’s eyes were replaced with the Devil’s during the 1997 general election. We all thought that was very tacky scare-mongering at the time, but who’s the tacky scare-mongerer now, eh?
I attach a few photos, including some from Hyde Park. We got there too late for the speeches, partly because we stopped into a café in St Martin’s to thaw out after the 90-minute trudge from Embankment to Trafalgar Square. By the time we got to the rallying point it was nearly dark and there were all these little groups of people huddling around tiny bonfires they’d made from placards and leaflets to ward off the bitter cold. Overall it was a very positive day. I carried a “Not in my name” placard all the way home and two complete strangers stopped me to chat for a moment about the march, both of them supportive and one of them saying he was from an army family but still disagreed with taking military action on this occasion. Surely I was dreaming – strangers? Talking to each other?? In England??? It’ll be highly ironic if this (potential) war ends up bringing people together more effectively than politicians ever could.