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London, UK

London, UK

I’ve been on protest marches for various issues since I was a teenager, including the notorious anti-poll tax demo that ended in mass riots (and was the death knell of Margaret Thatcher’s leadership). But nothing prepared me for the sheer size of the anti Iraq invasion demo. I was with a huge group of friends, colleagues, friends of friends, friends of colleagues, colleagues of friends. In the runup to the invasion, I just remember thinking that there is something we are not being told about this war, because nothing the government had ever said made an even partially convincing case for yet another foreign invasion. It just seemed like a madness had gripped them. During the march we stopped off to use the toilets in a pub in the west end, and I remember queuing for ages because there were so many people on the streets, and chatting to all sorts of people who’d travelled from all over the country. There were a couple of older women – maybe in their 60s – who reminded me of my mother who is not at all politicised – and they said they had travelled from somewhere in middle England and had never been on a demonstration before but just felt this was so important. And there you had ‘Worcester Woman’ – the Blair government’s target floating voter – saying loud and clear do not do this! But they ignored each and every one of us, even Worcester Woman. The damage done not just to Iraq and the middle East by that decision, but to the cause of democracy and peaceful protest, still reverberates through this country today. It was a massive mistake on so many levels. I do wonder how Tony Blair sleeps at night. The man who brought a huge breath of hope with his election chose to conclude his time in office by betraying our hope under a heap of despair and mistrust in Labour that lingers today.