Knowing London very well and in particular the route the march was taking, having been on previous stop the war marches, I managed to see many parts of the march on the day – I waited for the front of the march to appear in Whitehall and joined it after the first thousand of so people had filed past. Already the atmosphere was electric, good natured, diverse, purposeful.
I let myself fall back several times to observe the march from the sidelines but there were no voyeurs today – everyone in London seemed to be supporting and joining the anti-war message.
As I came to piccadilly circus it was obvious the march was huge but just how huge I did not know until I arrived in Hyde Park – the organisers had erected a display showing the estimated number of people on the march and every 10 minutes or so, whilst speaker after speaker came to the stage, it increased – 500,000; 600,000; 700,000 and then turned 1 million.
On leaving the speakers stage Hyde Park had been turned into a party venue and looking down towards piccadilly there were still hoards of people marching.
An extraordinary day and one I will never forget. My heart was filled with hope that surely this march would make a difference – sadly it became the final nail in the coffin for me of ever believing that politicians would listen to the people.
Thinking about these times also brought back memories of the student walk out protest on, I think, 19th March – the day of the parliamentary vote. The sight of uniformed school children performing rolling blockades of the traffic in Parliament square with the police powerless to stop them was also extraordinary and gave me hope that future generations have the gumption to fight oppression.