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UK Politics

No war against Iraq. Are you listening, Prime Minister? Unlikely, yes, but naive? No

I think many of us today are inwardly congratulating ourselves that we are the usual suspects. Because it is one of the most often-stated features of this coming war that so many of its opponents are not. There are people here who look really excited about being on a march. I'm sure someone is about to ask me: "And what happens when we get to Hyde Park – will there be nibbles?"

I think the last time I was on a demonstration commanding support even a tenth as broad was when Heseltine closed the pits. I remember that Paddy Ashdown spoke, and was booed – for being Paddy Ashdown.

Today the Liberals have, of course, adopted the "no war without UN backing" position, so I couldn't wait to see their placards. Liberals always make their own placards, to prove they are individuals. They turn the inside of a Weetabix packet into a cardboard banner, emblazoned with stirring marker-pen slogans, such as "Please Stop This Madness Now, If At All Possible". So given their view that what matters is what's stencilled on the tanks (Exxon or UN), I was dreading seeing a phalanx of placards reading: "Mr Blair, We Don't Doubt Your Sincerity, Or The Seriousness Of The Poisoned Couscous Scare At Marble Arch Tube Station, But Please Bear In Mind The Need For A Broad Based Coalition With the Authority of International Law."

But to my relief, their placards are properly printed and say simply, "Lib Dems Say No". And not one of them has added "On Balance". The war's cheerleaders are careful to dismiss us as naive, suggesting we are an unlikely coalition. But they can't come up with a single credible reason for going to war, so no wonder we are such a motley crew. No one here is fooled that this is a just war. Any person suffering from that delusion must be naive beyond redemption, and I hope they feel very lonely not to be part of this splendid day.

Jeremy Hardy is a regular contributor to Radio 4's 'News Quiz', Friday 6.30pm