It was the biggest protest march in London since Iraq – and it will achieve as much

The masses on the march: This overhead view shows clearly the strength of feeling in support of democracy. But Theresa May isn’t listening.

When British citizens converged on London to protest against the UK’s participation in the Iraq War, it was estimated that between one million and two million people marched.

They achieved nothing. Then-prime minister Tony Blair was determined to take his country to war in the Middle East, on the basis of information we now know to have been nonsense.

On October 20, 2018, the British people again gathered in London, to demand a “people’s vote” on the UK’s membership of the European Union. As many as 670,000 people were estimated to have attended – a number only surpassed in the 21st century by that 2003 march against war in Iraq.

And it will achieve nothing. Current prime minister Theresa May is determined to take the country out of the EU, on a mandate that was influenced by arguments we now know to be nonsense. Even the BBC has confirmed that the Conservative government isn’t going to budge:

Aerial photograph shows the number of people attending was huge:

Social media commentators have praised the commitment of those who took part:

And some have even admitted that another referendum may not help:

But Downing Street won’t move.

At best, the demonstration makes it clear that there is significant opposition for the direction in which Mrs May and her government are taking the UK.

This may present some solace to us, if our fears are realised after March 30, 2019.

By then, if she gets her way, Mrs May will have started implementing the changes Brexit will allow – stripping working people of the rights they fought hard to win, turning the UK into a sweatshop for the poor and a tax haven for the rich.

It won’t help anyone. If predictions are accurate, all British citizens are likely to be worse-off as a result of Brexit.

Mrs May has already been told. The problem is, she just won’t listen.

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  1. Barry Davies October 21, 2018 at 7:32 am - Reply

    Well the gammons who bothered to turn out didn’t match the multi aged cross ethnic and gender turn out to save the nhs and that Ione didn’t have any effect either.

    • Mike Sivier October 22, 2018 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      You need to look up the correct definition of the slang term “gammon”.

  2. Growing Flame October 21, 2018 at 9:21 am - Reply

    I went on the march. It was as huge as they say. I went on the anti Iraq War march as well. Both had that “thousands taking over all the streets ” feel as well.

    We cannot reduce the impact of a campaign effort to just asking whether those in power will change their minds or not. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The march represented a huge body of progressive opinion that will be buoyed up by the turn-out.

    If the Tories cannot come up with a well-fudged “deal”, the message of the march will still resonate. Even if they can create the illusion of unity behind an obvious fudge, the arguments will rage on, with UKIP and the Right Wing screaming “betrayal!”

    The recent stories of Companies transferring work to the mainland of Europe and the work to turn the M26 into a huge lorry-park, will continue apace. The march demonstrated that there is a huge body of opinion that wants another democratic choice. The mass media , already(Sunday), choosing to downgrade the significance of the demo,will still try to pretend that the whole deal is effectively done.

    But one of the arguments against the further referendum is that it is too soon after the last. Yet, with each passing day, the original referendum drifts into the distant past. Soon, a critical point will be reached, when the stories of disaster grow louder and the time for another look will have grown closer, not least because of the numbers of young people who were unable to vote in the first referendum, clamour for their own say.

    Believe it or not, as a member of the Labour Party, I quite appreciate why Jeremy Corbyn is holding back on this issue till the last possible moment. We need to maintain pressure until the situation is right. That doesn’t mean that Labour members should , personally, opt out of campaigning. When the proverbial has hit the fan enough, we need to have established our credentials as fellow campaigners. We need the huge number of active, motivated people of progressive opinion on the march to see the Labour Party as their natural home.

  3. nmac064 October 21, 2018 at 9:36 am - Reply

    I went Mike and I’m proud of it. When my two Grandsons asked me, “What did you do in the Brexit campaign Granddad?” I can look them in the face and tell them that I tried my best for their future.

    • Carolyn Adams October 21, 2018 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      well done, be proud!

  4. Tris Stock October 21, 2018 at 10:01 am - Reply

    As a Leave voter myself, I am just as concerned about what the Conservatives wish to push through upon our exit from the EU as any other concerned and informed citizen is, but a People’s Vote is most assuredly NOT the least worst option.

    If disenfranchising the voters of the single largest national election in British history, by supporting another vote that realises that, isn’t the worst single option, I suggest you aren’t paying attention, or you don’t understand democracy.

    I have heard it said on numerous occasions that the PV isn’t the rejection of democracy, but that it is more democracy. But this is superficial and dangerously disingenuous. If its purpose is to support democracy, then why – should it be successful – does it implicitly disenfranchise the voters of the 2016 vote? It sets a precedent for the proposition that setting aside any future elections a minority didn’t vote for, has no validity. In short, it is using the methodology of democracy, to usurp democracy, full stop.

    By all means, support the PV if your wish, but I caution those that do. What you are supporting is the rejection of democracy, out of hand. Whither then your voice, your rights? You will have been the architect of your own disenfranchisement, and will have set for yourself the cushion at which to kneel to an eternal Conservative government that will gladly take you at your word on this matter, remove your right to vote, and add it to those rights you fear you will lose by not supporting the PV. Hyperbole? Ask yourself this: What extent do you feel this government will go to, to remain in power, when offered a legal precedent that usurps the nation’s expressed wishes in national votes? Then ask yourself if that is a worse option than the PV.

    Beyond dangerous and disingenuous, it is perhaps the most stupid proposition I could imagine.

    • Mike Sivier October 22, 2018 at 6:43 pm - Reply

      The referendum wasn’t an election. And another vote would not disenfranchise those who took part in the 2016 vote – in the same way that a general election does not disenfranchise those who voted in the previous one.

      I voted in 2016 and would appreciate another chance to vote on this, in the knowledge of everything we have learned since then – all the lies and illegalities from the Leave campaigns.

      You may suggest that every election campaign features lies, if not outright illegalities, and nobody demands a new election when they are discovered. This is because politicians tend to say that circumstances have changed and they must adapt to new situations. In the case of the referendum, this option is not available as it is a statement of will from the British people. The only way to find out of that will has changed in response to new information and the circumstances that now present themselves is to have another vote.

      So you are mistaken. A new vote is not a rejection of democracy but an affirmation of it. In the light of what we know now, it seems clear that anybody opposing such a vote is rejecting democracy – and I wonder why they would do so.

      You claim that another vote will pave the way for an eternal Conservative government that will remove the right to vote – but haven’t you noticed that this is exactly what the Tories are trying to achieve? Be assured that among their first actions after Brexit will be legislation to remove your hard-won rights. You will only have yourself to blame if you stand against a measure that could prevent that.

      I question your suggestion that those who support a people’s vote are stupid. It seems to me that this is an attempt at peer pressure – because nobody wants to be considered lacking in intelligence.

      And, as you can see, supporting a people’s vote isn’t stupid – it’s simply a different viewpoint, and one that takes account of all the circumstances.

      • Tris Stock October 23, 2018 at 4:51 am - Reply

        The notion that the referendum was an election – as you put it – is a straw man. I neither suggested it was, nor can I conceive of a situation that that would equate that to anything I was raising. You are attacking a point I didn’t raise. In my usual guise as a counter apologist, you’ve already lost the argument.

        As for the idea that a new vote – which approaches the same question in principle, if not in practice – doesn’t disenfranchise those that have already voted on the issue, is moronic. If the winning vote in 2016 isn’t realised – specifically because there were another vote on the same principle – then those 2016 votes will have been actively disenfranchised. And I include those votes that supported Remain. EVERY vote would have been actively disregarded in favour of a new vote. This is an indisputable fact.

        So what, I hear many argue? We have elections for a government every five years, then we get to change our minds. Yes, but not until the result of those elections are both recognised and acted upon. If we don’t leave the EU, the winning vote will not have been acted upon, despite it being recognised both in law, and by Parliament. It represents the end of democracy as we know it.

        I couldn’t care less if you would appreciate the opportunity to vote again on the issue. The only people that would support such a notion, are those that would agree with your perspective that their minority democratic vote wasn’t sufficient. And while that may well be true, there is no argument that can be made that supports the idea that it would be democratic. You had your vote, as did I. You just want your vote to have an Orwellian pig weight, that mine doesn’t. Frankly, fuck you for thinking that is even an option for anyone.

        You are not anywhere near an idiot, so I feel strange having to point the following out. The fact that lies and frauds were carried out in favour of Leave, in no wise disregards the fact that lies and frauds were carried out on behalf of Remain also. More importantly, though, unless you can establish a legal case why these lies and frauds factually influenced the result, in a manner that isn’t true of any other election we have ever had, you are again making the point that our democracy – such as it is – is of no value. The campaigns are not synonymous with the result. They never have been, and they never should be. Our democracy stands on the basis that we get what we HOPE to get, not necessarily what we want or need. But I guess you already realise that.

        There is literally nothing to stop people having another vote on the issue, but the thing you forget is, that we ALWAYS get what we voted for, before we get to vote on the same issue again. Brexit has not been delivered, so there is no democratic basis to have another vote on the issue again, until it is realised. This is an unassailable fact, and I have to say I am fed up having to repeatedly make the same point to otherwise reasonable people like yourself. Don’t even go there.

        Your rejection of my argument is based solely on the idea we get to change our mind when we are in full command of the facts, but this – again – is disingenuous. We might like to think we are informed about votes in general, but there is absolutely no requirement for this to be the case in reality. I shouldn’t have to remind you, we have a deeply unpopular government. The “people” voted them in, and we got them. What you are proposing is we should have another vote, based solely on the idea that you didn’t like the outcome of the 2017 election, and that we shouldn’t have a government at all, because we have rejected the notion that elected them. So much for the premise of democracy!

        The only affirmation of the 2016 referendum, would be leaving the EU. The only way this couldn’t be true, is if people wanted to set aside democracy to overturn that result. That is NOT democracy, it is the outright rejection of it, and you should know better.

        You have taken my points and twisted them – poorly – against me. While Brexit may well enable a resurgent Conservative party to erode our rights, without the basis of democracy, we have none at all worth discussing. Take that away from us, and what the Tories are proposing are insignificant by comparison. Perhaps you aren’t understanding where I’m coming from here, but that is your issue, not mine.

        I didn’t say those that support the PV are stupid, I said the PV is stupid. I will not allow you to misrepresent me like that. It is the height of dishonesty. That said, it’s just that level of dishonesty that I have become all too familiar with when discussing this issue. There simply isn’t a reasonable argument for a PV that stands up to any scrutiny, without having people misrepresent reasonable and factual attacks against it. As such, the PV remains a categorically stupid position to hold, because there is no reasonable defence of it. I make no claims as to the intelligence of those that support it, because I’m not that fucking petty.

        Let us, then, take account of the circumstances. We had a legally valid and recognised vote, that you wish to usurp. Own it.

        • Mike Sivier January 2, 2019 at 1:24 pm - Reply

          As I said the referendum was NOT an election, you are proceeding from a false premise. May I ask why you lied about what I wrote when it is available for all to see?

  5. Carolyn Adams October 21, 2018 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Considering the voting was influenced by fake NHS propaganda (we all remember that bus emblazened with it) put about by Nigel Ferage and his cronies, then when a petition for a new referendum vote was sent to downing street with millions demanding a new vote based on truth, they removed 75% of the names, mine included, from the petition claiming they were fake! BREXIT should be deemed illegal, brought about by liars and cheats who fill their own pockets claiming expenses they shouldn’t have! Fraudsters are supposed to be prosecuted by our judicial system, l want to know why they weren’t Ms. May included…

  6. rotzeichen October 22, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    I sincerely doubt even with a second vote people realise or would understand what they are voting for. I voted remain because I did not want this argument in the first place, not because I supported the EU because I don’t.

    This whole debate is a total distraction away from the Tories who are dismantling our country as we speak. The EU will not solve that and we will need to tackle that as soon as this stupid debate is over.

    The Maastricht treaty is a disaster, that impoverishes the whole of Europe, and people simply don’t know anything about it.

  7. Growing Flame October 22, 2018 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    If people had genuinely wanted more money for the NHS , why didn’t they just vote Labour in the General Election, as Labour is clearly the Party that supports the welfare state? I wonder if the bulk of Brexit votes in the Labour constituencies were just the frustrated local Tories who finally had a chance of winning something.
    So, at the next General Election ( which I hope will come asap) we will need to emphasise that the Labour Party will protect the NHS, regardless of Brexit negociations.

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