Well we asked for an image of Galloway from the front line , even saying we wouldn’t hold our breath and along come two at once. So Plod and Faceless in the comments, you both get a medal from Stalin and a free subscription to the void.
To the left is the pic from Plod, published on their Flickr site here with the comment:
“galloway out of his league. considering he called for the demonstration and defying the ban it was surprising not to see him chanting along with everyone else whilst he was at the front,(for about 5 mins). the whole time he looked bewildered and lost for words, probably one of the reasons i didnt here him say a single word even though everyone else was chanting anti-war and anti-police slogans. didnt matter, i saw him get pushed right to the front as if he was a human shield for the protester behind him. fuck off galloway. “
However, in the interests of truth and justice the pic from Faceless may tell a slightly different story.
In this picture (from here) it appears Galloway has moved to the side of the crowd. Notice that the batons drawn are some way from Galloway and the copper nearest him actually looks quite bored. What was happening in the middle of the crowd is that hundreds surged forward all pushing towards the middle of the police line. This left maybe 50 or so people crushed with the only option to attempt to force back the barriers guarding police.
This was when things got interesting. As the batons came out and the barriers came down there was the usual frank and impassioned keep it spiky/fluffy debate being had by the protesters. What was absolutely clear is that the entire crowd, of several hundred people, were determined to force back the police line.
Some were happy to use their bodies in a display of non-violent force and nobly took the beatings from the batons. Others were a little more forthright. The crucial thing is this. Not just a handful of kids at the front wanted to force back the police and march down Whitehall, that was the intention of the entire crowd.
The STWC don’t want to admit this. They don’t want to admit that the demonstration disobeyed their orders and, perhaps disillusioned with the futility of previous events, decided collectively and autonomously to take direct action and attempt to force their way down Whitehall.
The STWC lost control of the demonstration. And they know it.
This does not invalidate some of the criticisms made of the police by the STWC and Galloway. But it does tell a quite different story to the one they appear to be attempting to represent.
So back to Galloway. We now have three different folk telling the same story. Galloway made his way to the front of the crowd, whether pushed, led or by his own volition, shit himself and scarpered. The second picture suggests he then approached the police line at the side, away from the action. Here there was plenty of space to move about with even bemused tourists engaged in banter with the old bill.
Contrast this with what Galloway actually says happened:
“I made my way to the front of the putative march and purely by chance found myself in the hottest spot of the confrontation which followed. I was trapped there for the best part of an hour and a half, unable to move forward, back or sideways. Consequently, I was both closer to and for longer exposed to the events as they unfolded.”
Which appears to be a bit of a porky.
This also renders his comments on the suspected porcine infiltrator, Chris Dreyfus, a little bit suspect:
“This man, to my direct knowledge, committed four criminal offences during the 30 minutes or so he stood next to me. First, he repeatedly chanted the arcane, antiquated Americana, “Kill the pigs!” This is a clear incitement to violence, indeed murder. If a Muslim demonstrator had been chanting it, say, outside the Danish Embassy, he would likely now be in prison. Secondly, he repeatedly (crushing me in the process) attempted to charge the crush barriers and the police line behind them. Thirdly, he repeatedly exhorted others so to do. Fourthly, he instructed a young demonstrator on the correct way to uncouple a crush barrier, which was successfully achieved and was subsequently thrown at the police, and was presumably one of the justifications for the deployment of a riot squad which eventually waded in to the protesters.”
According to one commentator on indymedia these claims, made in a letter written by Galloway to the Home Secretary, have disappeared already from his website. We can’t be sure of that because we picked it up from Socialist Unity, but are a little suspicious of the claim given Galloway hasn’t updated his website since January 2007.
It is interesting though that the letter doesn’t appear on either the Respect or the STWC website, nor has it featured in the National Press. Whether this is a sign of Galloway backtracking will become clear with time.
The original piece written in The Fail on Sunday is far more credible than Galloway’s account. But buried as it was in the femail section, this potential front page news story does not appear to have been followed up. Again we can only wait and see, but it’s a murky affair to be sure.
What is becoming clear is that like on so many occassions before Galloway has attempted to hijack the whole affair, giving a thoroughly distorted picture of events. The reasons for this are likely twofold: the first is Galloways incessent ego and delusion that he and he alone is the voice of anti-war resistance in the UK.
The second that the STWC want to deflect attention from what really happened that day. Which is that people took matters into their own hands and decided that the failed, insiped tactics of the STWC are no longer the way many people wish to resist this war.