Anti-war campaigners prepare for substantial weekend protest over Syria

Stop the War Coalition claim thousands will march, echoing Iraq demonstrations of 2003

Anti-war campaigners have pledged to bring thousands of protesters on to the streets of London this weekend as they step up demonstrations to stave off military action in Syria.

The Stop the War Coalition said it was experiencing a groundswell of anger reminiscent of the public opposition preceding the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and expected a large turnout for protests planned across the country on Saturday.

The focal point will be a march through central London via the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street, expected to be attended by up to 5,000 marchers. Campaigners said 1,000 protesters had gathered outside No 10 on Wednesday evening, waving placards reading “Hands off Syria” and “Cut war, not welfare”.

The prelude to the launch of the Iraq war in 2003 saw one of the largest demonstrations in the capital in recent history when up to two million people marched through London to oppose the invasion.

Lindsey German, Stop the War’s convenor, said: “We have always said that we didn’t stop the war in 2003 but what we are seeing now is the legacy of that year. Our phones have been ringing off the hook and I’m hearing from people who I haven’t heard from in 10 years.

“People were lied to in 2003 and there is a very strong feeling that they are being lied to again. We have had three major interventions in the shape of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and none of them has brought meaningful peace or upheld human rights. We must not go to war against Syria.”

Polls have suggested that Britons are far from persuaded of the merits of air strikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. A YouGov poll for The Sun earlier this week found opposition against the use of British missiles stood at two to one.

Polling experts pointed out that public opinion can shift in the light of changing events. Support for the invasion of Iraq doubled to 66 per cent in the three weeks from the beginning of the war to the fall of Baghdad. But campaigners said public scepticism remains strong after the failure of Britain and the US to live up to the justifications offered for the 2003 invasion.

As well as the London march, demonstrations are planned on Saturday in most major cities including Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Bristol.

Ms German said: “People are very angry about the latest turn of events. There is enormous sympathy for what is happening in Syria but we should be very clear that air strikes would be an act of war with unknown and truly dangerous ramifications.

“David Cameron has misjudged the public mood and is making a very big mistake.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Invoicing Clerk

£14500 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are contractors to...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Administrator / Marketing Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of packag...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Field Sales - OTE £30,000

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a rapidly expanding offi...

Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy