Stop The War – Mass Demo 15 March


Stop the War: a mass movement to celebrate and defend

Socialist Worker

The 15 February 2003 demonstration reminds us of the strength of the anti-war movement and shows the importance of the upcoming 15 March protest, writes Andrew Burgin

The fifth anniversary of the great anti-war march of 15 February 2003 was celebrated by the anti-war movement last week, as a high point of a truly unique mass movement that brought millions of people into political activity and ultimately led to the downfall of Tony Blair.

The anniversary was also marked by the mass media — which gave a somewhat mixed appraisal of the day.

One has to admire the Guardian newspaper for its chutzpah — on the anniversary the paper devoted a section of its editorial in praise of the march.

Not mentioned was the paper’s own support for the Iraq war nor its previous editorial position of not covering marches at all.

Nevertheless times change and now not only is the march to be considered as a wonderful event but we were also treated in the same edition to a long article on the march from quirky Guardian journalist, John Harris.

That the Guardian devoted a substantial section of their G2 supplement to the march is to be applauded and it is always good to see the photographs of the march — they show the incredible size and breadth of the anti-war movement that is difficult to express in words alone.

The article itself is a different matter. The main question Harris asks about the march is rather bizarre. He says, “Britain had never before seen a public outcry like it. So why haven’t we seen one again since?”

He states that the march and the movement which built it “failed to develop into anything with real political oomph”.


You don’t have to agree completely with former Chinese prime minister Zhou Enlai — who when asked in the 1970s to comment on the effects of the French Revolution, said that it was “too early to tell” — to believe that the effects of the largest demonstration in many hundreds of years of British political history may still be playing itself out.

After all British and US troops remain in Iraq and are now even more heavily engaged in Afghanistan than they were in 2003.

Harris rips the march from the movement which created it and tears it from what came before and what came after.

Rather than 15 February 2003 being seen as the high point in a long campaign against the “war on terror” Harris reduces the march to an isolated event which fell into the laps of the organisers by chance.

The organisers, he says, soon managed to whittle away this with “crushingly unimaginative tactics”. Presumably he means by this more marches.

Contrast this with Tony Benn’s approach — “The Stop the War movement is the most powerful and influential popular political movement of my lifetime and possibly of any period of our history.”

It is not a question of the honour of the movement or a question of defending the role of the SWP, which is criticised in the article, in building the anti-war movement, but the necessity of recognising the historic importance of this campaign — a campaign which still has some way to travel.

The marches are the backbone of our movement but they represent only a small part of our day to day activity.

Later this month the Stop the War Coalitions begins a series of nationwide rallies with Hassan Jumaa of the Iraqi oil workers’ union. We have worked closely with the Military Families Against the War campaign to support their demand for a public inquiry.

We have held a series of international peace conferences which have brought activists from across the world together to campaign against the “war on terror”.

There have been days of action against Islamophobia, in defence of civil liberties and opposing an attack on Iran. We have worked with artists and others to create events and exhibitions opposing the war.

And there has been much more — not least a campaign of direct action including sit-downs, banner drops and strikes and school walk-outs.

Lies and deceit

Where John Harris does hit the mark is in his account of the gap between the politicians (those who began the war) and the people (those who opposed it) and who exposed the lies and deceit that were used to promote it.

This week the government was forced to reveal the first draft of the “dodgy dossier” — and we will see the full extent of the “sexing up” of the intelligence by Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell.

We are in the middle of a long campaign to bring these politicians to account and to bring all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is why we make no apology for calling for people to work as hard as possible to build the international day of action and the London and Glasgow demonstrations on Saturday 15 March.

The movement remains mobilised.

  • Dream on, kiddies …

    The rest of us will bring civilised life and rule to the Iraqi people with or without you lot.

    “The fifth anniversary of the great anti-war march of 15 February 2003 was celebrated by the anti-war movement last week, as a high point of a truly unique mass movement that brought millions of people into political activity and ultimately led to the downfall of Tony Blair.”

    I think we noticed your effectiveness (!?) FOUR AND A HALF YEARS LATER Blair retired. But if you think it was anything to do with you, you understand politics even less than even I had ever imagined.

  • roman

    blair is a liar and Traitor of the worst kind…

  • Ashley

    If by civilised life you mean terrorising your citizens, big brother, failing economies and general unjustice I bet they can't wait (you'd better behave or we'll bring democracy to your nation next).

    I'm intrigued to find out why you believe we have a right to force our values on to other nations. Do you see these people as inferior or backward in some way because they don't have the endless consumerism that our country is based on? If you think that democracy is spread using cluster bombs and killing civilians (80% of casualties in most modern conflicts are civilian, a significant increase over the past) then you 'understand politics' less than you think (or you just understand propagandised politics rather than what the words are supposed to mean)

    Some people believe blood to be more precious than oil. If you don't think this war is about control of oil (and/or poppy fields) then you are either delusional or daft (do you think we'd be there if their main export was sugar or potatoes?).

    Do you really think Afghanistan and Iraq are out to get you/us?

    Do you really think Saddam could have attacked UK territory with WMDs in 45 minutes (he would have had to have made them first!).

    Don't you think that North Korea (a nuclear power who have fired test rockets at Alaska in the States) is more of a threat than Bin Laden in a cave?

    Do you think that the increase in police brutality here and in the US is to keep terrorists down?

    I'm not sure who said it but I think the quote is pertinant, 'A mind is like a parachute, it only works when it's open'

  • Spook Buster

    Watch out!

    The MI5 driven UK 911 Movement and the MI5 driven WAC will be on hand spreading disinformation.

    Like usual.

  • Ashley

    What telling us wild and wacky stories about only 3 steel framed buildings in history having ever collapsed due to fire damage and it just so happens that all 3 of those happened in the same day within a few hundred yards of each other?

    Or about them digitally altering the BBC news story reporting live about the collapse of WTC7 half an hour before it happened and with it in clear view on the TV?

    Yes these pesky MI5 buggers, now where were we? Oh that's it, go back to sleep, football's on tomorrow, have you seen what Britney's done now, there's a half price sale at DFS, go back to sleep.

    Nighty night

  • Spook Buster

    Come on Ashley youve seen them trying to derail STW meetings all over this country.

    Connect the dots: Machon and Shayler infultrated STW and were kicked out. They convinced a bunch of truthers they should call themselves the 911 truth campaign and got them to wreck STW meetings.

    I have many questions about 911 and I dont buy the official shit.

    I just dont trust MI5 who are obviously controlling the UK 911 campaign and subsequent groups like J7, MWH and WAC.

    Do your homework.

  • J A Blacker MSc IMI

    T.Blair, or should one say, Mr Treason , is the most despicable type of international war criminal and low life CON MAN.

    He started a dirty war based on Fake terrorist events, 911 & 77 and then moves office leaving us to pick up the pieces and the results of his dirty tricks and lies & mass murder of women & children.

    Remember, it was Mr. Treason Blair and Mr Danger Bush who used every deceitful tick to get us into a war in which the criminals then bombed women & children with Depleted Uranium WMDs.

    Is there anything which Hitler did which even comes close to such EVIL? Perhaps.

    Mr Treason and Mr Danger are the most Total satanic Bile, who have committed crimes against humanity on such a horrendous scale, yet most public have absolutely no clue.

    WAKE UP you morons – They have commited a silent Genocide which will last until the ends of time – 4.5 Billion years.

    They made Terrorism – not try and stop it!

    J A Blacker MSc IMI (Physical Systems) (Lancaster England)

    [email protected]

  • ellman

    You 9/11 Truth Kiddies are way over your heads. Go back to your legos.

  • Malandro

    Some people are so blind, wake up you idiots! Blair's a terrorist!