Iraq: 15 February – Scotland – 80,000 protest as Blair addresses Scottish Labour conference

At least 80,000 people marched in the biggest demonstration Scotland has seen in 30 years. They came from all corners of the country, from the Islands to the cities to the smallest towns and villages. Firefighters, trade unionists, peace campaigners, pensioners, young people by the thousand thronged onto Glasgow Green. Whole families came out to protest, many of them never having attended a demonstration before. The Muslim community was out in strength as were political activists from the SNP, the Lib Dems the Labour Party and the Scottish Socialist Party.

15 February. No to war in Iraq. cwi reports from around the world. Scotland.

80,000 protest as Blair addresses Scottish Labour conference

Extra trains and buses were laid on and yet hundreds were turned away from the train and bus stations as all the available transport were full.

They came to protest against war and, in particular, to march to the Labour Party conference where Tony Blair was due to speak at 2pm. Blair moved his speech to 10.15 am and had left the country by 11.20.

It took over two hours for the march to leave Glasgow Green and three and a half hours before the end of the march arrived at its destination.

Although there was a strong pacifist mood and some illusions in the UN, especially concerning the role of France and Germany, the response to the idea of a socialist alternative to war was shown by the thousands of International Socialist (CWI Scotland) leaflets that were snatched up and by the 200 copies of the International Socialist paper that were sold on the demo. Comrades from the Socialist Party from North East England also joined us and sold 102 copies of The Socialist.

In particular the idea of a school and college strike against the war was enthusiastically received. Young people, especially school students, mobbed the Youth Against The War stall. 50 young people gave their names and details to join the campaign and many of them were interested in the ideas of the International Socialists. Over £100 was collected for our campaign fund, as well.

Need for a socialist programme

Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan spoke at the rally and made a very effective anti-war speech. The SSP also had a strong presence on the demo and got a good response from the protestors. Unfortunately nowhere in the SSP’s paper, ’Scottish Socialist Voice’, was socialism even mentioned, never mind a clear explanation given of the need to struggle for socialism in order to end war.

The International Socialists will continue to put forward a socialist programme in the anti-war movement as well as taking concrete steps to organise walkouts and strikes in schools, colleges, universities and workplaces.

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