A video from Britain which was on YouTube said about itself:
Manchester Iraq Demo. 15th February 2003
I couldn’t get to London on 15th February 2003 because of health reasons. But I did attend a local demo in Manchester in Piccadilly Gardens. Before I set off, I watched the huge London demo on TV news. There were shots of the march from a helicopter hovering over Parliament.
The news man in the chopper was obviously gob-smacked at the sheer size and scale of the demo. I recall him saying excitedly: “I’ve never seen anything quite like this!” The footage from the chopper showed the streets along the route from Hyde Park to Parliament completely full of demonstrators–wall to wall all the way. And this was only part of one of two separate legs that set off from opposite sides of London.
And then the camera panned to the left showing the march extending onwards away from Parliament to the point where the two legs of the march converged and then onwards into the distance-wall to wall all the way. My family was watching and they were expressing amazement at what they were seeing. That footage has never been shown on TV since to my knowledge and probably never will for many years to come. I wonder if anyone recorded it?
Several members of my family–including my twenty something daughter who is not normally interested in politics–attended the Manchester march which was tiny in comparison to the London demo, but still inspiring.
The gathering in Manchester built up to around a thousand people. We marched down to the Peace Gardens in St Peter’s Square and held a spirited rally. I filmed the whole thing. This clip shows some of it. I phoned up the local TV offices–BBC and Granada–and offered the footage to them. The BBC man said he wasn’t interested and I got the same brush off from Granada. I even phoned up the national BBC–it was a sort of wind up to rub their bloody noses in it–but they were not interested in hearing about even more people marching in the “provinces”.
I later saw on the web that there were local demos in various other British cities in addition to London and Manchester. 700 marched in Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.
Does anyone know of any other local demos on the Glorious 15th?
Visit the Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition website:
We didn’t stop that war, but may have stopped the next
Five years ago, the biggest political protest in our history served to explode the myth of public apathy
Wednesday February 13 2008
Five years ago this week most readers of this newspaper were making plans to go on a demonstration. More surprisingly, just as many Daily Telegraph readers were getting ready for the same event. For most of those who marched against the Iraq war on February 15 2003 it was the first time they had ever demonstrated for or against anything in their lives. It was a protest such as Britain had never seen before, all-embracing in its diversity and imposing in its unity of purpose.
While there are always arguments over the size of demonstrations (the 2 million-or-so figure we claim is supported by considerable polling and photographic evidence), there is no dispute that this was not merely the country’s biggest political protest, but the biggest by a substantial order of magnitude.
Two things are obvious about the demonstration to “stop the war”. First, the millions on the march were right. Not just right on balance, but right on every single aspect of the question. There were no weapons of mass destruction, Iraq did turn into a bloodbath, the invasion did not help resolve the crisis in the Middle East, and it did damage the cohesion of our own society and imperil our civil liberties while not making us one whit safer from terrorism. So the people were smarter than the politicians.
Second the demonstration did not stop the war. Our hope had been that mass protest could drive the British government out of its aggressive alliance with Bush and that the latter, isolated internationally as a result, would come under intensified domestic pressure. We came very close, as Donald Rumsfeld made clear. In the wake of February 15, Washington told Blair he could stand down our army if he wanted to.
The prime minister ignored that offer and the people he represents alike. However, failing is not the same thing as making no difference. February 15 has cast a long shadow over British politics since, and contributed to Blair‘s departure from office under circumstances – in public odium and with an exasperated party – scarcely of his choosing. What war have we stopped? The next one, perhaps.
The demonstration was the apex of a broader movement which touched almost every part of society in 2003. This included the greatest-ever engagement of British Muslims in active politics, thousands of school student walkouts, peaceful civil disruption in towns across the country, local authorities coming out against the war, and train drivers declining to move munitions for the invasion.
See also here.