Friday, February 14
Politicians are Out of Step with the People
War is Pretty Much Inevitable - But That Doesn't Mean Protest is Pointless, Either in the Short or Long Term
Natasha Walter, Independent.co.uk, February14, 2003
It was only a few weeks ago that commentators were shaking their heads over the almost invisible nature of the resistance to war. How things have changed. At the moment, we can only guess at the size of tomorrow's protests, but anecdotal evidence is talking big. ...
More unusual protests, such as delegations to Iraq, have been helping to raise awareness of particular issues, such as the plight of civilians.
And more confrontational protests have also begun, and will develop further with the beginning of the war. The tolerance for direct action has been growing over the last few years, and already more than 4,000 people in Britain (including myself) have signed a pledge to support civil disobedience, such as blocking roads, when the war begins.
But right now, a straightforward show of people out marching makes a very straightforward point very well: that the politicians are out of step with the people. In Britain, recent polls symbolize a crisis of legitimacy for our Government that, come tomorrow, it will have to work hard to dismiss. The march represents the people; the Government does not. According to a midweek BBC poll, the march represents about 90 per cent of the people in Britain (unless the UN gets behind war) and the Government represents about 10 per cent.
Because of this massive public support, even its opposers are finding it hard to marginalize the march. As we all know, peace marchers in the Sixties were a hippie rabble, and those in the Eighties were scruffy dykes; but who do we have here? Since even Daily Telegraph commentators are saying that they and their friends will be there, it could be anyone.
Even people who believe that war may ultimately be necessary, depending on how things go with the weapon inspections, will still go on the march to put the case that more time is needed right now. The few journalists who are totally against the march are trying to tell us that it will be dominated by old-style Trotskyites or new-style anti-Semites, but that is pretty weedy scaremongering. [...]