British RAF fighters returned from their first airstrikes on Syria this morning, Thursday. They launched just hours after MPs voted by 397 to 223 to join the bombing on Wednesday night.
Smearing anyone who disagreed as a “terrorist sympathiser”, David Cameron has begun a new imperial adventure. Just as in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, it will be ordinary people who die under British bombs in Syria.
Around 3,000 protesters took the road outside parliament.Anger erupted through the crowd as the news came in. Chants of “Shame on you” and “No justice no peace” rang out.
"They are murderers who are killing Muslims," said Palestinian Nazra. “Now we know who the terrorists are.”
Sarah said, “It's just disgusting—they're killing innocent people for greed and power.”
The protest was called by the Stop the War Coalition and followed two demonstrations on Saturdayand Tuesday.Other demonstrations took place in town centres and outside Labour MPs’ offices across Britain.
Despite Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to war, its MPs were allowed a free vote.
Some 66 of them—more than one in four—sided with the Tories and voted for war. These included senior shadow cabinet figures such as deputy leader Tom Watson, shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn and shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle.
Lindsey German from Stop the War told the crowd outside, “David Cameron and Hilary Benn were wrong in 2003 and Jeremy Corbyn and the anti war movement was right.”
Lindsey slammed the Labour MPs who supporting bombing. “If they're doing it to embarrass Jeremy Corbyn it's a disgraceful reason for going to war.”
Shadow minister Diane Abbot came out to address the protest during the debate. “Bombing is not some parliamentary game,” she said. “We're fighting for every vote.”
School students Louis and Theo joined the protest. Theo said, “Bombing for peace has never worked—it will just kill more people.”
Louis added, “We don’t want what happened in Iraq to happen again in Syria.”
Theo was sceptical about Corbyn’s tactics. He said. "You can admire Jeremy for allowing MPs a free vote in principle. But maybe more would have voted against it if he hadn’t.”
Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Mhairi Black also addressed the crowd during the debate. “There's people in there who support you and agree with you," she said.
The SNP amendment against airstrikes was voted down.
After the rally protestors marched off Parliament Square for a mass “die-in” on the road. School student Martha said, "I just felt I had to do something while they were voting for war.”
Trade unionists also joined the demonstration. Sean Vernell from the UCU lecturers union told the rally, “They say cuts are necessary because there's no money. But there's always money when it comes to bombing people from 30,000 feet.”
The big majority and the Labour warmongers will have buoyed David Cameron. But the demonstrations show a growing mood against war.
Opposition our rulers' new war in the Middle East can be built on the streets.