New Internationalist

Stop the War: The story of Britain’s biggest mass movement

Issue 380

Someone, in this story of the remarkable mobilization of outrage that brought two million protesters out onto the streets of London, points out that it failed. It did not stop the war. But the observer continues, the ‘15 February movement’ achieved ‘enough to shape the course of politics on the issue of Iraq, Britain’s relation to the US and how Britain is governed’.

It’s certainly true that during the recent British general election just one fifth of the electorate could bring itself to vote for Tony Blair’s once popular Labour Party. Only the outdated peculiarities of the country’s first-past-the-post electoral system made it possible for Blair to form a majority government.

Richly illustrated, Stop the War vividly captures a defining moment in a continuing struggle for democracy. The posters that shouted out ‘Not in my name’ are as relevant today as ever. And the protest badges that neatly twisted the leader’s name to ‘Bliar’ have become increasingly easy to justify.

It’s just a shame that its field of vision was not wider in capturing the international scale of the mass protests that occurred around the world on 15 February 2003. But with contributions from schoolchildren to intelligence officers, seasoned campaigners to ‘virgin marchers’, Stop the War does present an inspiring diversity of people-power. It captures the buzz and creativity of the movement, and the political art it has spawned. And authors Andrew Murray and Lindsey German provide a narrative that carries you along with ease.

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