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Saturday Report Back From Edinburgh MPH Demonstration

category international | summit mobilisations | feature author Sunday July 03, 2005 01:21author by IMC Éire foreign correspondent Report this post to the editors

Large But Quiet and Sedate Demo.

A report from Edinburgh and a few pics lifted from film work in progress.

business as usual at boarded up shop Got into the city this morning early enough, yet there were still loads of people streaming towards the Meadows, a large green space in the south inner city of Edinburgh, hours before the demo was due to begin. I popped into the Indymedia Centre which is open up above the Forest Cafe on Bristo Place, near the University. They have a good setup there - roughly 25 computers running Knoppix, which is a variant of the GNU/Linux operating system. All are networked together and the place is wired for broadband. The radical radio people also have their equipment set up on the upper floor and will be starting to stream audio from this evening.

There were thousands of people heading to the Meadows around 9.30am, still a good bit before the scheduled kick off. The usual gauntlet run of flyer-handers, paper sellers, petition urgers etc had to be negotiated on the slope down to the convergence area.

A few minutes before the march was due to kick off, a crew of roughly 80 (seemingly comprised of many Irish Dissent! people) poured down the incline, masked up and dressed in black, visibly adrenalised, and shouting obscenities within earshot of many young and old sensitive liberal ears. "Commandante W" as I belief he is referring to himself as was in flying form, obviously in his element! They had been tailed for a while and the spotlight was on them, they disappeared around the corner towards the entrance point and that was the last I saw or heard of them until later in the afternoon...

radical cheerleaders/pink blocThe demo managed to get moving just after the appointed time of 11am. It was being led by a black samba band and some 'dignitaries' types who I did not know, one of them had mayoral chains on, so possibly the Mayor of Edinburgh? Who knows, if Gordon Brown was invited along then its quite possible. The media scrum was incredible. Every photographer, video crew, audio journos were falling over each other to document what was happening.

As the march reached the turn of Bath Street, there was a slight commotion straight up ahead and the police radios, which had been silent up until this time, crackled angrily into life and the luminous yellow jackets were running up to the front of the march. The media scrum had moved too, flashing and pointing at the percieved 'trouble' (and yes, I too was admittedly following it...)

A group of "pro-capitalists" had assembled in front of the head of the march, and had signs emblazened with slogans such as "Blood For Oil" and "Make Poverty Permanent", and were chanting slogans such as "Free Trade not Fair Trade!" and "Down with equality!" The Police initially did not seem to get the joke, and there appeared to be a bit of scuffles between some of the creative/subversives and stewards trying to clear a path for the march. Eventually they seemed to get the joke, people were only dressing up in suits and chomping on cigars as a pisstake; nevertheless the Police kept an eye on them and escorted them all the way up Princes St. Princes St is one of the main 'high street' shopping malls in the city, many premises were boarded up but bore signs saying 'open for business'.

The march came in waves and waves of people. To be honest I was a bit disappointed with a) the crowd, and b) the lack of creativity. Possibly a and b are related. The crowd was announced later on in the meadows as 200,000, no laughing matter but well short of Geldof's million. Maybe they are due on Wednesday. The reason for my lack of enthusiasm for the march was the non-diversity of the participants. It seemed to be mostly people out for the day with their young kids. Not that that's a bad thing - but it just meant that the march was deathly quiet for very long periods, and everyone was holding generic placards thrust into their hands. Distinct, individual creations (which are always, always much better) were thin on the ground. There wasnt much representation from unions or refugees, or not visible at any length. There were no 'blocs'. Certainly a very different demographic from say, the Saturday march in Genoa 2001.

Many of the people I spoke to were quite bubbly and happy with the day. They all spoke of how deaths in Africa were terrible and how they should stop. My cynic motormouth almost jumped at the question "well how do you think marching around is going to achieve anything?", but today I kept shtum and tried to soak up some of their optimism, if naive in my eyes.

The sun was baking me and I was nearly at the end of the march already (a short enough walk for a march of many thousands, comparable to Parnell Square to Merrion Square), so I strolled back the way I came to check out more people joining in. A good bit back the way, a big pink/radical cheerleader/samba group appeared. Possibly one of the biggest samba groups I have ever seen. The noise was chest-pounding. (Painful) Memories of Genoa came flashing back briefly acid-style, where every idiot with a bongos and a spliff in him would crack the fucking thing out at 1am and continue to hammer out an arhythmic beat for hours until his inner child had been palm-beaten out of him... but this was different. They had class - and practice. It was all in time, the dancers knew their steps, they were working the crowd around them up into a sweaty frenzy. The bass (lambeg?) drums were pounding, and instead of the usual one or two, they numbered maybe fifteen or twenty. I glued along with this for a while before moving towards the back again, mostly to get out of the sun which was now creating a nice Oirish farmers tan for me...

Back into the Meadows just before 3pm, and there were still thousands of people queueing up to leave the place and march the route, obviously determined to walk the Queens Highway. There were 3 stages erected, where comedians and musicians were telling bland jokes and playing even blander music. At 3pm, the entire site fell silent for a minute, as the MC said "13 children will die in the next minute" and then started the clock on the screen. At 3:01 there was a huge roar, as if somehow this had made poverty history... the bands started up and played music, and then of course another 13 children died in that minute too, but it was as if somehow the simple act of sitting silent for a brief moment made people happy in their hearts. Sorry to be a cynic about this but I cant help it when you see the likes of Puff Daddy et al supporting this initiative. 20 years ago people probably held a minutes silence for the dead in Ethiopia as well when Michael Buerk's BBC report shocked them into "action", yet all these years later very little has changed...

Around this time the small anti-authoritarian/black bloc was being hemmed in by the Police. They had assembled in the Meadows, numbering between 250-300, before 2pm. Like everyone else, they had to wait for an eternity to be squeezed through the bottleneck where people were popped out into the march route. Reportedly they got frustrated and made their own exit via a newly manufactured gap in the fence. This was where the Police surrounded them, and when they tried to escape the policing, the group was split up into smaller fractions. After a standoff, eventually things wound down and people just splintered off home or back towards Bristo Place in groups of 3 or 4.

And that was about it really. I hung around the Meadows for a while, just resting my feet and reviewing footage... Its hard to tell if there are going to be enough people around for the Wednesday blockades. There certainly didnt seem to be enough of a 'left' contingent on the march, but maybe today wasnt about that. We'll see what happens. Keep you posted.

Front of the MPH march
Front of the MPH march

African Drummers leading the march
African Drummers leading the march

Just a small part of the media scrum
Just a small part of the media scrum

Indymedia banner hanging off the Church near Bristo Place
Indymedia banner hanging off the Church near Bristo Place

Cops push back "pro capitalists"
Cops push back "pro capitalists"

author by IMC Éire foreign correspondentpublication date Sat Jul 02, 2005 22:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Some more scenes from the Saturday march...

Pro capitalists on the march.
Pro capitalists on the march.

MPH banner draped off the wall of Edinburgh Castle
MPH banner draped off the wall of Edinburgh Castle

MPH Bike Bloc
MPH Bike Bloc

Boarded up but business as usual.
Boarded up but business as usual.

Pink cheerleaders strutting their stuff...
Pink cheerleaders strutting their stuff...

author by IMC Éire foreign correspondentpublication date Sat Jul 02, 2005 23:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

..

Anti sweatshop banner.
Anti sweatshop banner.

author by redjadepublication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 00:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A group of about 60 G8 demonstrators have been hemmed in by police in Edinburgh amid concerns about trouble.

About 200 officers, half in full riot gear, erected barriers and formed lines to corral the protesters in Buccleuch Street.

Officers said they identified the group as the source of possible unrest and monitored their progress before closing them in. No arrests have been made.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4644565.stm

aaa_41259131_policecorral203.jpg

author by Dottie Knauer - independentpublication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 01:25author email dknauer at gmx dot netauthor address Moycullen, Co. Galwayauthor phone 087 2241361Report this post to the editors

Hi there,
this is my first post on Indymedia and incidentally my first major
protest. The topic of "Make poverty history" was dear enough to me to take
the plunge and go over to Edinburgh.

Having been on the same march as the person posting the previous article I
guess I don't share the same cynicism but have kept some idealism over the
years. I saw the huge support for the cause from everywhere - the people of
Edinburgh, the organizations from all over and even many authorities which
was very encouraging. Yes, it was peaceful, little confrontation from what I
could see - mind you I thought that was the idea of a peaceful protest? Do
we need another Genoa? I think not.

The hassle we got from special branch - being asked to disembark from the
bus, being filmed while doing so without permission (and not allowed to take
photos of the officers at the same time), and the luggage being thoroughly
searched - was enough discomfort.

Maybe the baking in the sun today, the patience we learned in waiting for
the start of the march is only giving us a tiny percentage of discomfort that
others experience everyday.
The minute of silence to remind us of the people dying from the effects of poverty in that minute, while not eliminating any
of these deaths, at least brought it consciously to our minds - no hiding
from the facts. From now on (if ever before now) we can't plead ignorance!
The amount of people which was put at anything from 120,000 to 200,000 - and
I hope there'll be many more on Wednesday - should express our solidarity
with the ones who are powerless to speak for themselves and our displeasure
at current policies to the members of the G8. A Yes, I know this is NOT
enough, but it's a start.
So, basically I'm trying to say that I don't think today was a pointless
exercise but an uplifting experience that will bear further fruit on
international and personal development.
And I am convinced that stronger sentiments will be expressed in many a way
next Wednesday.

More tomorrow,
Dottie

author by Ciaron - DCW (personal capacity)publication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 10:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the '70's when you talked about world hunger, there was an implication that people in the first world/imperial centres whould have to "live simply so all may simply live". An acknowledgement that resources are finite and we should be asking ourselves "are we taking too much are we giving too little". This dynamic was defnitely not on the agenda in Dublin's march on Thursday or on the teev yesterday.

Fight poverty by consuming more..buy the wrist band, the concert ticket, the album, the DVD etc etc Support you local ambulance chasing NGO.

In some ways it has been a brilliant manouvere to kill off a movement that awoke at the end of a pretty dormant '90's. Preceeded by anti-sweatshop campaigns, J18 & Seattle then by the time we got to Genoa they were literally trying to kill it off.

NGO culture like homeless charities are primarily about careers, budgets, bucks not about social justice or solving homelessness. From the base of the chuggers (charity muggers) recruited on the basis of youth and looks they throw guilt tripping shapes to secure direct debits. When I was a kid my folks would sign me up for 4 or 5 times a year to go beg for different voluntary organisations. Dodging dogs on a Saturday morning the relationship was betweem a volunteer (me) and a donor. These chuggers use the same guilt tripping dynamic while on 12 euro to 14 euro an hour. At the top charity bureacrat level, things get uglier and wealthier.Like the latest fronts of the authroitarian left, NGO's don't want an active grassroots that may cause them internal political problems. They want a passive membership that bankrolls the eilte careers of theor organisers.

Have this hunch that when the church was working class in Australia, the emphasis was on feeling bad about yourself. Now that it is middle class the emphasis is on psych babble affrimation and feeling good about yourself. And such was the case with the overwhelming self congratulatory vibe of the millionaire celeb leadership to the middle class base of this movement. Any selfhating Punk Paddy that takes a British knighthood must have issues. Geldof go figure?

The rehabilitation of Bill Gates & co..speaking form the platform in London, when they had to chopper him in over us blockading Melbourne's Crown Casino hosting the World Economic Forum 2000 was sad. The self censorhip about the war and the arms trade that faciltates this global armed robbery. In Dublin, that the 5 Mayo men in jail for nonvilolently & directly confronting Shell were not central to the march, not mentioned from the stage by the NGO bureaucrats and celeb is informative.

As the stardust of yesterday settles, it will be interesting to see how the Faslane Blockade goes. Trident Ploughshares is a movement that has been built on direct democracy, nonviolence and self activity of the movement putting an issue on the agenda, rather than being a predictable response to the powerful's stage managed set pieces. For those commited to libertarian & anarchist politics.

MAKE EXPLOITATION HISTORY ..and poverty will look after itself.

author by Sampublication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 13:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was at the march. Those 'pro capitalists' had placards saying 'bring back the slave trade', 'more blood for oil' and 'capitalism rocks'. I think they were just some dissent or anarchist types just messing about. They were giving out leaflets about the upcoming dissent protests (i think).

The best group i saw during the whole day was the CIRCA. They're must have been around thirty of them. : )

author by x - dissentpublication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 17:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

400 strong black bloc broke away from MPH march but due to lack of plans and communication within the bloc was soon broken up by the police.

more pix here.
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/07/315515.html

Related Link: http://www.dissentireland.org
author by mmspublication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 18:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hi guys, girls
I was at the protest, the weather was very hot,
i really enjoyed, I was marching with the anti war movement for the first time, and I think that were more active than other groups in the march

The seminars today from Other Globalisation is possible Alternative G8 are fantastic
issues like the Anti coca cola campaign, climate change
exploitation in food chain,
i got some photos from the conference, will post them when I go back to Dublin
comparing from previous big gatherings like the one in Porto Alegre, I would say that I would have done the talks on the Meadows, park and not in these university buildings

talk to you when I am back
sprisp.mms@pop.com.br

author by Edinburgh participantpublication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 21:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There are a number of very serious factual inaccuracies in the intial report which greatly dimishes it's credibility especially in this paragraph "The march came in waves and waves of people. To be honest I was a bit disappointed with a) the crowd, and b) the lack of creativity. Possibly a and b are related. The crowd was announced later on in the meadows as 200,000, no laughing matter but well short of Geldof's million. Maybe they are due on Wednesday. The reason for my lack of enthusiasm for the march was the non-diversity of the participants. It seemed to be mostly people out for the day with their young kids. Not that that's a bad thing - but it just meant that the march was deathly quiet for very long periods, and everyone was holding generic placards thrust into their hands. Distinct, individual creations (which are always, always much better) were thin on the ground. There wasnt much representation from unions or refugees, or not visible at any length. There were no 'blocs'. Certainly a very different demographic from say, the Saturday march in Genoa 2001."

The March organisers never expected 1 million on yesterday's March; they were expecting 100,000 and they were greatly surprised that 200,000 turned up. The figure of 1 million that you are talking about is what Geldof is asking to turn up for next Wednesday's March at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles; which was very clear to anybody who bothered to watch the media; which you obviously didn't "IMC Eire foreign correspondent"! Also there was plenty of trade union representation at yesterday's MPH rally if you had bothetred to open your eyes; unlike what you erraneously state "IMC Eire foreign correspondent. I personally saw delegations from the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC); UNISON and the TGWU; all with their banners.

Perhaps that's why you won't give us your real name "IMC Eire foreign correspondent"; because youi know that your report is riddled with inaccuracies. At least give us your real name "IMC Eire foreign correspondent"; so that we can show you your inaccurate comments.

author by another edinburgh participantpublication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 22:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You demand a real name but you wont give yours.

author by Edinburgh participantpublication date Sun Jul 03, 2005 22:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Only I work in a Government Department (The Department of Foreign Affairs as it happens!); and officially belonging to any political organisation and/or campaign is still strictly forbidden. I do however salute the brave few on IMC Ireland who do give their real names. None of this however excuses the simply inexcusable serious factual errors in the orginal report by "IMC Eire foreign correspondent".

author by another edinburgh participantpublication date Mon Jul 04, 2005 00:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you dont want to give your name for your own reasons then dont act all high and mighty when someone else doesnt want to give their either. They may have their own reasons as well.

Apart from the union thing, what else is wrong in the report? And can you prove your statements with visual images? Where are _your_ images? I could say I was there and I saw a Nazi contingent. Who's to say I'm wrong?

You sound like a troll to me.

author by trollpublication date Mon Jul 04, 2005 01:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

someone else seems more like a troll, he's correcting a report thats all. Its true the organisers never expected one million and the trade unions were on the march.

author by Edinburgh participantpublication date Mon Jul 04, 2005 03:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you log into Google and type "Make Poverty History Edinburgh July 2nd" you'll soon find that the organisers were expecting 100,000; and not 1 million. Or if as I suspect that that's too demanding on your very limited brain cell space "another edinburgh participant" then simply log onto RTE's website http://www.rte.ie/news.ie and you will very quickly see that all that the MPH protesters were expecting on Saturday's March was 100,000.

author by James Rpublication date Mon Jul 04, 2005 20:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The article starting this thread is pretty spot on. Every aspect of the MPH day of events was impotent, the black block was a pardoy of itself, like something that emerged from a zeroxed punk zine and decided it needed to mask up to get through a crowded field of families on a day out. The masses in the meadows were quite frankly boring, there was no real eccentricity, the most prominent organisations were NGO's, groups like Christian AId, these were the organised blocks and they absorbed other organisations like the unions and the anti-globalisation buzz, in one sense it is possible to speraki of a very successful process of co-option. MPH was more a celebration of the G8, than a protest directed at it in my head.

author by mmspublication date Mon Jul 04, 2005 22:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I attended many of the workshops organised on Sunday by "another world is possible.It was my first time in a G8 protest, but I have been taking part for years at the World Social forum.

The spirit of the workshops and closed rally was amazing!

I don't want to give more opinions on the march, I found that the Anti war movement was represented, but obviously priority was given to supporters from such organisations like christian Aid

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