Last night saw a passionate demonstration against the government's plans to extend airstrikes, reports Callum Thomas
The demonstration in Parliament Square was the last in a series of three emergency gatherings organised by Stop the War Coalition, which was host to speeches from key anti-war movement figures such as George Galloway and John Rees.
Lindsey German, of the Stop the War Coalition, said: “I believe that those Labour MPs are acting against the interests of their constituents and their members. I would say to them: ‘Think again and go into the lobbies to vote no. The war and its consequences will be on your consciences. You will not be able to escape the consequences of this war.’”
The die-in saw thousands block the roads to the Houses of Parliament, causing the entire area to be closed off by police and traffic to be halted.
Ben from Southwark told me that “the imperialist dream may be about to come true tonight – we are here to demonstrate otherwise” adding, “it’s time for Britain to be honest about the real cause of terrorism in this country, and around the world.”
Scottish National Party MP Mhairi Black made a surprise appearance at the rally and gave a short speech to the crowd. “I just wanted to assure you that your voices can be heard from within those walls”, pointing at the Houses of Parliament. An anxious and exuberant cheer followed, along with a speech from Labour MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development and Corbyn aide Diane Abbot, who also confirmed she stands in firm opposition to any extension on airstrikes.
The impassioned crowd successfully kept up momentum, with hordes bellowing for sanctions on Saudi Arabia and demanding an alternative to the loss of human life which the British airstrikes, now officially authorised by the Conservative and Labour MPs, would inevitably be accountable for.
A large assembly of children from Highbury Fields School was singing at the front of the demonstration and displaying homemade banners. One read “He hit me, so I hit him back”, underpinning a basic and central point to Cameron's argument.
It is clear to see from the numbers at each of these demonstrations that the argument for war is losing within general public opinion. People look back to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and see that these unjustified, irrational and unpopular bombing campaigns have done nothing other than feed the flames of terrorism and promote the growth of jihadi extremism.
The vote was held at 10pm last night and gave David Cameron a majority of 174 votes.
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