The Stop Trump protest on 13th July was big but that wasn’t the best thing about it

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2018 by kmflett

The Stop Trump protest on 13th July was big but that wasn’t the best thing about it

On Friday July 13th, assembling at 2pm at Portland Place by the BBC and marching to Trafalgar Square (not so far away) around 250,000 people protested at the presence of Donald Trump in the UK and his hard-right politics.

But who was counting? No one is the answer. The Met Police have given up for various reasons counting numbers. Their pre-march guidance which was circulated to various groups including London trade unions was interesting but I’ll post on that elsewhere.

The organisers claimed around 250,000 people. The BBC which appears to be having a psychological battle with itself about how to cope with politics outside of what it defined as ‘mainstream’ 50 years ago was content with thousands. The London Evening Standard (Editor George Osborne doesn’t like Trump) backed the quarter of a million figure.

I was there both as an activist and an historian with an interest in political crowds. The march took well over an hour to leave the Assembly point and at that time (after 4pm) protesters were still arriving.

That means it really was a big march. Whether it was the biggest recent weekday march I’m less sure (the record keeper is probably on holiday or down the pub). Some of the anti-George Bush protests on weekdays in the 1980s were very large, but perhaps not as large as Friday.

Any way none of this is the key point. It was not really about numbers but who was on it. The march was a great mix of young and veterans, male and female. There were banners from Labour, other socialist parties and trade unions and to that extent it was a march of course of seasoned activists of the left (and I met a few) but actually it was a lot more than that. For example I met more people who are involved in the craft beer scene (which has its own politics) but not perhaps overtly of the left.

The key was the placards. There were just a huge number of home made placards. Of course the left had its placards there and rightly so. But this was a march that reached well beyond the usual suspects. As Kevin Ovenden has pointed out on FB making a one off placard takes time and effort (making the pre-printed ones is also quite a task) and will have involved discussion about what the most effective slogan or picture might be. Behind this lays a culture, as EP Thompson put it in the Making of the English Working Class, of people fed up with the way things are.

Engels noting the 1890 London May Day march suggested that it was new generation coming into struggle, the daughters and sons of the old Chartists. That is really what Friday felt like. The children of those who marched on 15th February 2003 entering the fray against racism and imperialism.

Capitalism as we know creates its own gravediggers and Trump is excellent at that (and probably only that)


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