The nannying of Tony Blair is reaching ridiculous proportions. When he goes before the Iraq Inquiry on Friday, attempts are afoot to prevent his delicate ears being sulied by the sounds of popular protest. CND and the Stop the War Coalition have planned a day-long peaceful vigil outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre but we have now been told – just three days before the event – that we are not allowed to gather on the grass outside. This is where previous protests have taken place during the Inquiry.
We have negotiated with the police over many days and they had assured us that they were happy for us to protest directly outside the centre. But now we have been told that all access will be denied. Of all the silly excuses possible, we have now been told that as the QEII centre is ‘private land’, it is the centre which has the right to deny access. Needless to say, this isn’t the full picture. The facility is actually operated by a publicly-owned Government Executive Agency under the authority of the Department of Communities and Local Government. This is clearly a political decision.
It is disgraceful that the right to peaceful protest is being denied so blatantly. As the police say they have no security objections to our vigil being held outside the Inquiry, we can only assume that this is an attempt to protect Tony Blair from the overwhelming anti-war sentiment that exists in this country. It is only proper that he should see and hear those of us who have been proved right in our opposition to his war, particularly the many family members of those he sent to die. Come and join us on Friday: insist on our democratic right to peaceful protest – and let Blair know what you think of his war crimes.