(I’ll be updating this post throughout the day)
The crowd was thousands strong but well short of the 250,000 turnout forecast by organisers.
They said many coaches were still en route (!!!!) and they still hoped to have upwards of 200,000 people involved by the end of the day.
According to Sky News police are reporting 45,000 as the official figure (less than 5% of the Feb 15 total) but their reporter just said his police source had admitted that even that was a “generous” figure and that the real amount is about 20,000. Either way that makes today’s effort by far the smallest demonstration since the war began – a view confirmed from one of our ’embedded’ reporters.
Despite claims that the media would ignore their protest every major news outlet is reporting their effort.
Update: Well let’s see if any media actually bother noting the dramatic slump in attendance from one million on Feb 15 2003 to this pitiful turnout today. Will any reporter dare to ask why 95% of the anti-war people on the streets two years ago are not there now?
Here is the first piece of spin from STWC claiming that while the numbers were down the protest had been “hardened” by the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz – widely thought to be an architect of the war – as chairman of the World Bank.
Gene adds: Perhaps the spin will be that the march is now “meaner and leaner”.
Further update: The turn out in Italy, where the Feb 15 2003 demo was even bigger than London and where past protests have been massive was absolutely abysmal today. According to this report merely 10,000 people marched through the center of Rome. The figure for Istanbul, where there have also been large protests in the past, has also slumped to just 10,000.
More: The BBC seem more upbeat however. You can watch their report online here. No mention of the numbers being dramatically down across Europe however. Funny that.
A Medialens poster from Finland says their protest in Helsinki was many times smaller than two years ago and that onlookers were laughing and shouting abuse at the march. Shameful behaviour.
Numbers update: According to the US news agency Associated Press these diminished protests can be described as ‘Europe marks anniversary of Iraq invasion. ‘ That’s right. Europe. They have some details though on how much of Europe was protesting.
In Poland 500 protesters marched to the US Embassy in Warsaw. In Athens, about 3,000. In Sweden, about 300 protesters filled up Sergel Square in downtown Stockholm, chanting: “USA, out of Iraq!” In Oslo, Norway, about 400 people rallied to demand that the 10 Norwegian officers in Baghdad be sent home.