February 15, 2008


The day politics stopped working: It is exactly five years since at least a million people took to the streets of London in protest at Tony Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq. Britain had never before seen a public outcry like it. So why, asks John Harris, haven't we seen one again since? (John Harris, 2/15/08, The Guardian)

It seems an awfully long time ago now, that chilly winter's day. Iain Duncan Smith, as zealous an advocate of military action as Blair, was the leader of the Conservative party; Charles Kennedy was in charge of the Lib Dems. The UK's bestselling pop single was the work of a faux- lesbian Russian duo called Tatu. BBC Choice had just become BBC3; that year's hot tips for the Oscars included Chicago, The Pianist and Bowling for Columbine.

At first glance, the march seems every bit as far-flung - though it does not take much to bring the memories back in a properly Proustian flurry. [...]

But what happened? Where did all that energy go? There are all kinds of possible answers, focused on everything from the tactics of the organisers to the idea that modern protest might be a banal matter of registering one's individual dissent - "Not in my name," as the slogan put it - then going home happy.

Bingo! The protest wasn't about Iraq but about the self.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 15, 2008 10:08 AM

Um, weren't the marches in support of fox hunting significantly larger than the Iraq protests?

Posted by: b at February 15, 2008 12:24 PM

That and those deeply meaningful paper mache puppets.

Posted by: Luciferous at February 15, 2008 1:54 PM

The giant puppets! We can't forget the giant puppets!

Of course, the kicker was the sign that said "Peace in our Time". No seriousness there.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 15, 2008 2:46 PM