Friday, February 15, 2013

Was the big march against Blair’s war in vain?

10 years today. The smudgy pink thing is my ticket to the biggest march in British history. I was bus monitor for bus no 19 from York. Or it might have been bus 17. I know it was a prime number. We sent 21 buses in all. Did we waste our time? Most people, even those who went, will tell you yes, but Peace News is trying to get us to think differently.

Peace News has dubbed 11 March 2003 Wobbly Tuesday, one of the great secrets of the Iraq war, kept secret not by state censorship and repression, but by media and academic self-censorship.  They say it’s time for the British anti-war movement to finally shake off the lie that the astonishing anti-war mobilisation of early 2003 had no effect whatsoever on the British government.

Though we all thought we had marched entirely in vain, the truth is that on Wobbly Tuesday the Blair government panicked. The Sunday Telegraph later reported that "Mr Hoon’s department [the ministry of defence] was frantically preparing contingency plans to 'disconnect' British troops entirely from the military invasion of Iraq, demoting their role to subsequent phases of the campaign and peacekeeping." (Sunday Telegraph, 16 March)

This is taken from a website set up by peace activist Milan Rai.

In the publicity for Ian Sinclair's The march that shook Blair: An oral history of 15 February 2003, to be launched later today, Peace News suggests that “on this evidence, the big march was shock and awe from the bottom up; it came within a hair’s breadth of derailing the warmongers and still shapes our politics today.”

Sadly when it comes to war a hair’s breadth is the difference between life an death.

1 comment:

  1. Your closing sentiment sums up my feelings. Blair may have 'panicked', but he still went to war. The million people marching in London with us on that chilly February day were not there merely to induce head-scratching, but to save lives.

    It is interesting to learn that we did have 'some' effect, but in truth I think the lasting effect of that episode was making government realise that they can actually do whatever they want, no matter how much objection there is.