I went up to the London march from my Cotswold village, plunk in the middle of David Cameron’s constituency. One friend from the village came too, and I’m sure there were other sympathisers. But not many.
The march was wonderful. We were in the front third or so, so couldn’t tell how big it was, but people kept reporting that the last third hadn’t even started moving. Police photographers were snapping us all along the way, but so were many other, more supportive people – journalists and others, many having climbed high up on balconies, statues and traffic lights, risking their necks to get a good picture.
When we got to Hyde Park it was still relatively empty. Then it started to fill and fill, and finally we were standing in that vast space squashed together as tightly as in a lift. That was probably the most amazing and moving experience of all – if we were filling Hyde Park we must surely be a million!
Afterwards, things were more complicated. Some of my family didn’t agree, and the Iraq march became a taboo subject between us. And after the war had started, and a new march was called, I was one of those who felt they could not partake in a public protest while soldiers were fighting. Perhaps that was wrong, and I’ve worried about it ever since.
But the first Iraq march was a historic moment, and I’m very proud I took part. I remain a member of the Stop the War movement, and am a strong supporter of the Occupy movement too. I think you’re right that there is a new and growing recognition of the importance of protest – or rather an old and growing one. I was a protester in the 60s, and am still one now. I’m just thrilled the world is catching up with us!