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How big was the 23rd March Put It To The Vote march? A: too big to ignore

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2019 by kmflett

How big was the 23rd March Put It To The Vote march? A: too big to ignore

I was not able due to other commitments to pay more than passing direct attention to the People’s Vote in central London on 23rd March.

As might be expected I’m no fan of the named organisers but that is hardly the point. A very large demonstration brings all sorts of people and ideas onto the streets and opens up possibilities.

The organisers pre-claimed the march would be a million strong and repeated that afterwards as well. To be fair with such a large march over a relatively short distance ending up in a restricted space its very difficult to tell. My general views on the size of protests are here:

https://kmflett.wordpress.com/2019/03/21/once-gain-on-the-size-of-protests-the-peoples-vote-march-23rd-march/

There were some slightly odd claims. One twitter post showed the Mall full for a Royal event in a previous summer and claimed this was the march. Who knows what that was about. Likewise there was some twitter comment that the police had said the march was 1.5-2 million strong. I could find no verification of this and it was also odd because in recent times the police, mainly I think for resource reasons, have given up attempting to assess the size of protests.

There were as ever agendas running. One was that it was the biggest ever UK protest, bigger than the 2003 Iraq War march. I think its fair to say that this line was largely promoted by those who ignored the 2003 march at the time.

I’ll pass over the right-wing commentator who claimed that protest marches are never as big as they are claimed to be and note that a much more important point was made by Caroline Lucas MP who was involved in 2003 and again on Saturday.

Namely that whatever the actual size of Saturday’s march it was too big to be ignored by MPs and if they did, as some did on the 2003 march, there will be a political price to be paid.

The Guardian quoted People’s Vote:

A People’s Vote spokesman said: “We can talk about not stopping the Iraq war but it changed perceptions of politicians afterwards and people didn’t forget it. I think there is a clear message from the outcome of that march that if people ignore it they won’t be forgiven.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/24/peoples-vote-march-too-big-to-ignore-organisers-warn-mps?CMP=twt_gu

Of course size isn’t everything, Judging by what I saw and gathered from talking to some who had marched, was that the composition of protesters on Saturday was far better than in the autumn of 2018.

There was a strong left bloc of those critical of the EU but wanting to remain. On that issue we’d need to return to the unanswered point from 2016. Is it actually possible to reform the Lisbon Treaty?

There were also numbers of Labour Party banners although unions were not particularly evident.

What was evident and I certainly saw were large numbers waving EU flags or wearing EU T-Shirts. This must be the only place in Europe where that happens. A tribute to and a reaction against I suppose the reactionary politics of Farage, Rees-Mogg, Gove and Johnson

What happens next in terms of the forces mobilised by the march is an important question. Several things flowed from the 2003 Iraq war march both in the short and medium term. Turning marchers into longer term activists is no easy matter

And no by the way you wont find me wearing an EU flag T-Shirt or hat. This post is looking at the dynamics and forces in play in what was certainly a very large march

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