by Ken Olende
More than 5,000 people marched through central Manchester today against the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the spread of war to other countries.
The demonstration was timed to coincide with the start of the Labour Party conference. As marchers passed the conference venue many held their palms up towards it, shouting “blood on your hands”.
Falak, a young woman from Liverpool, said, “If you don’t speak up nothing’s going to change. The threats to Iran and the trouble in Pakistan show this war isn’t over.”
At a rally at the demonstration’s end Tony Woodley, the joint general secretary of the Unite union, called on marchers to remember the “many thousands of innocent victims of the lunatics that have taken us to war”.
Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, said, “In the middle of this economic crisis Gordon Brown should be helping the people struggling to pay the bills, not spending £3 million a day on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Rose Gentle of Military Families Against the War said she was disgusted how the government treats its own soldiers. “They leave them to rot once they get back,” she said.
The demonstration was diverse and good spirited. There were banners from Stop the War groups from around the country and trade union banners from Bristol Health Service Unite to Kirklees Unison.
The march was called by Stop the War, CND and the British Muslim Initiative.