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We Will Defy Government Ban on Anti-War March

STWC | 03.10.2007 16:52 | Anti-militarism | Iraq | Repression | London

Stop the War President Tony Benn has delivered a letter to the
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to make clear why our Troops Out
demonstration at Parliament on Monday 8 October will take place,
despite the ban by the government and police. It is essential
that the voice of the antiwar majority in this country is present
at Parliament when Gordon Brown makes his long awaited statement
on Iraq.

That is why we are asking every anti war activist to sign the
letter protesting against the ban, to join the demonstration on
October 8 and to do everything possible to publicise the protest.
(Sign here:

Stop the War has designated tomorrow, Wednesday 3 October, as a
day of action to build support for the demonstration and to
create a mass sign-in campaign, using a special NOT ONE MORE
DEATH postcard, designed by eminent artist David Gentleman. The
postcard calls for troops out now and for the British government
to break with US war policies. (See postcard here:

It is our basic right to demonstrate. As Tony Benn says, "The
authority for this march derives from our ancient right to free
speech and assembly enshrined in our history, of which we often
boast." This is why Tony will be joined on our march by Labour
Party NEC member Walter Wolfgang, musician Brian Eno and many
more soon to be announced.

Comedian and broadcaster Mark Thomas, announcing his
participation, said, "This is a ham-fisted attempt to prevent us
from demonstrating. We will ignore the ban. We have the moral and
logical high-ground. I will be marching on Monday 8 October."

Stop the War has been inundated by phone calls and emails from
across the country, expressing outrage at this attack on our
right to protest peacefully, many saying they will be travelling
to London to join the demonstration, both to insist that all
British troops are withdrawn from Iraq and to defend our civil

The situation in Iraq is worsening by the day, with hundreds
being killed each week and the virtual collapse of most public
services. The cause of this horrific suffering is George Bush's
occupation and British troops are only in Iraq to give him
political cover. Every day the troops remain prolongs the death
and destruction for the Iraqi people.

Our demonstration will call for the immediate withdrawal of
British troops from Iraq. We will also call for all troops to be
withdrawn from Afghanistan, for an end to the British
government's subservience to US foreign policy and for Gordon
Brown to oppose George Bush's current threats to attack Iran.

We urge everyone who has opposed our government's war policies
and who has been appalled by the repeated attacks on our basic
rights to join our demonstration.

Speakers include:
MARK STEEL, comedian and writer
BEN GRIFFIN, ex-soldier who served in Iraq
GEMMA TUMELTY, president, National Union of Students
LINDSEY GERMAN, national convenor, Stop the War
BILLY HAYES general secretary, Communication Workers Union
More details and updates:


To: The Right Hon Jacqui Smith MP
Home Secretary
House of Commons
Monday October 1st 2007

Dear Home Secretary,

I am writing to you as President of the STOP THE WAR COALITION,
to give you advance notice that there will be a demonstration in
Trafalgar Square the day Parliament meets calling for the
immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq and
Afghanistan at which I shall be speaking along with others.

Afterwards many of those present - including myself - will be
marching along Whitehall to the House of Commons to meet MPs and
urge them to support this call for a withdrawal, as I shall be
doing in approaching Malcolm Rifkind my own local MP. We shall be
doing this in an orderly manner and I am making available to
those who wish to have one, a postcard over my printed signature
as a Privy Councillor, asking the police, and others to assist
them. I enclose a copy of this postcard.

The authority for this march derives from our ancient right to
free speech and assembly enshrined in our history, of which we
often boast and which we vigorously defended in two world wars.

I am copying this letter, and its enclosure, to Jack Straw, the
Commissioner of the Metropolis, and as a courtesy, to the Prime

I hope that you will be able to re-assure me that those who
demonstrate and march down Whitehall will enjoy your full support
and the support of the police. But it is only fair to tell you
that the march will go ahead, in any case, and I will be among
those marching.

Yours in peace

Stop the War's open letter to Gordon Brown calling for the
withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq will be published in
The Guardian on Wednesday 3 October in a full page advert funded
by supporters of Stop the War (See

- Homepage:


Suck Parliament: STWC's begging letter to the police

07.10.2007 16:43

Inspector Stuart Cornish
New Scotland Yard
05 October 2007

Dear Stuart,

Following the decision of the Metropolitan Police to agree to the banning of our long planned demonstration on October 8th we write to make our position as clear as possible and to ask for guarantees regarding the safety and security of those attending the event on the 8th October.

1] We met with you on four separate occasions to discuss the planning of the demonstration on the 8thOctober. In the first three meetings there was never any question of not being allowed to demonstrate. Only in the very last meeting did you say that you could no longer facilitate the demonstration.

2] The grounds on which you have made this decision is spurious. The sessional order, as you have admitted, is subject to different interpretation at different times but it should never be used to suppress the right to legitimate and peaceful protest. The civil liberties organisation Liberty has written to Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison that, 'this proposed restriction on peaceful protest is a disproportionate interference with the vital democratic rights of free expression and free assembly'.

3] Since 2001 we have arranged with the cooperation of your department 20 demonstrations. These have included the largest demonstration in British political history on February 15th 2003 and also the demonstration to protest at the visit of US president George Bush on November 20th 2003. On the latter nearly 400,000 people marched through Whitehall by the House of Commons on a weekday while parliament was sitting. There was no attempt to prevent this march using the sessional order. All our demonstrations have been peaceful.

4] On the 8th of October we intend to march to parliament. There will a large number of elderly people and families with children attending our event. We strongly request that the Metropolitan Police do not endanger the safety of those attending, either by the use of riot police or through the use of mounted police. Our stewards will be working to facilitate a peaceful protest and we ask for that same cooperation from your officers.

5] We have no intention of disrupting parliament or preventing MPs from attending parliament. In fact the opposite is the case - our protest seeks to make parliament act in the interests of the vast majority of the people of this country who want British troops withdrawn from Iraq.

6] It is a matter of great concern to us that our previous good relations in regard to the planning of legitimate public protest have broken down. You will have received advice that your decision to ban our protest is of dubious legality and we ask you one more time to review your decision in respect of our march.

Andrew Burgin
Lindsey German
Chris Nineham
Stop the War Coalition

Orwell was a patsy


Display the following 8 comments

  1. This is much more — People
  2. STW pulling their finger out — Myshkin
  3. stw — fiik
  4. This is more ........ — corneilius
  5. Nice days work, all 'round. — corneilius
  6. police brutality at antiwar demo a typical response to peaceful protest — cress lucid
  7. Sham — Cassandra
  8. permission was granted — tin foiled one