In February 2003, Blair's Government tried to ban what was to become the biggest protest demonstration in British history, claiming that they were worried about the safety of people 'walking on the grass' in Hyde Park.
Now, New Labour in Manchester is trying to go one better by attempting to ban a peace camp by bereaved military families on the pretext that 'Providing facilities for the campers would not be logistically possible.' This is an extraordinary claim from a council that found it perfectly logistically possible to provide facilities for over 5,000 athletes and officials in the 2002 Commonwealth games.
The activists who plan to pitch tents in Albert Square on the 21st and stay until the Time to Go demonstration on the 23rd, have been told that the ban is for their health and safety.
Rose Gentle (pictured above at her son's funeral ) whose young son Gordon was killed in Iraq said, "We think it's because it's the Labour conference and they don't want us going and voicing our opinions because Mr Blair is going to be there. They say it's health and safety. They said they don't want drunks thinking it's somewhere they can sleep. But we've got our own security."
She accused the council of 'doing New Labour's bidding' and repeated that they still intend to go ahead with the camp.
Labour NEC member and Peace veteran, Walter Wolfgang, who was violently ejected from last year's Labour conference has accused officials of behaving like 'heavy handed idiots'. Mr Wolfgang said: "These are people who have lost members of their family who are members of the Armed Forces in a war which should never have taken place.
"They have got every right to protest, and I think we will find they will protest. Whoever is responsible for this are idiots. This is very heavy-handed and sounds like it comes from the same people responsible for the treatment given to me last year. They are very foolish to do this."
On February 15th 2003 New Labour were forced to back down. Now their minions in Manchester are taking on some of the most determined and courageous protesters we have ever seen. Let's hope that Manchester City Council also have the sense to back down and reverse this shameful decision.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW TO HELP:
You can visit the Peace Camp to offer your support from Thursday 21st September, or send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to visit the Military Families against the War website at:
Click here to send a protest e-mail to Manchester City Council at: