Stoke-on-Trent: Noisy start

Around 200 people attended a noisy vigil-cum-demo outside Hanley town hall. Organised at short notice by North Staffs Stop the War, the event attracted an audience far beyond the 'usual suspects', and it was heartening to see that around half those present were under 25. The assembled crowd heard a number of speeches by leading figures in the local anti-war movement. Jim Cessford (Socialist Party) reported on anti-war strike action by 50 Manchester council workers, and praised a walkout by pupils at nearby Wolstanton High School. He also thanked half a dozen activists for flyposting the event along the main approaches to the city centre in the hours following the initial attack. Other speakers included Peter Lawrence of the AUT lecturers' union, who denounced Bush and his oil junta and reported on actions at Keele University. Jason Hill (CND) gave an angry and militant speech on Blair's hypocrisy, and Andy Bentley (SP) called for more workplace action against the war. The crowd eagerly snapped up papers and leaflets, signifying a hunger for the ideas capable of challenging the humanitarian gloss given to the war by the Blairite lie machine. Neil Lloyd