Trump protest 4th February: one of the great London demonstrations
Official estimates suggest that around 40,000 people marched on 4th February from the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square to Downing St. The protest was around Donald Trump’s travel ban and his proposed State visit to the UK.
The demonstration was called by a number of Muslim organisations (the focus of Trump’s ban) and a wide variety of UK campaigns from CND to Stop the War and Stand Up To Racism. There was criticism of the march beforehand not least from a leading figure who apparently thinks they own the anti-Trump ‘brand’. I’ll post on that further but it is nothing new in London radical politics. E.P. Thompson’s chapter ‘problems of leadership’ in the Making of the English Working Class deals with it and that is about the 1820s.
The protest was the second to fill Whitehall on Trump in 5 days (the first was on Monday sparked by a call from Owen Jones, good for him btw) and like the earlier demonstration it was both young and notable for its home-made placards and comparative lack of union banners. Saturday was a little more ‘organised’ so there were more official banners but it still had the feel of many people protesting for the first time. A new generation driven on to the streets by Trump.
What to make of it in general? By definition given the short notice this was primarily a demonstration of Londoners, magnificent in its diversity. There was not time to book transport form elsewhere and fill it and in any case there were other protests around the UK. In that sense the size of the demonstration was impressive.
A new movement has arisen and the London tradition is to take it forward in a democratic but of course disputatious way. Protest and survive as E.P. Thompson had it about an earlier and equally worrying US President.