Glastonbury 2003: The Big Lie; Blood For Oil debate, Leftfield 02 July 2003
One of the highlights of the Glastonbury weekend must be the Blood for Oil debate in the Leftfield, which featured Tony Benn and Bianca Jagger amongst others...
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Guest speakers included Tony Benn (MP), Bianca Jagger (Campaigner), Carol Naughton (Chair of CND), Ghada Razuki(Stop The War Coalition), Henna Malik (School Students Against The War) and David Hayman (Spirit Aid). Each speaker had a chance to voice the views on current situation regarding our occupation of Iraq, the Government's position and role regarding this.
The inspiring speeches were interrupted from time to time by spontaneous, rapturous applause from the massive crowd that had squeezed into the Leftfield tent. Ghada Razuki gave possibly the most emapassioned speech which literally made your skin tingle. An Iraqi herself, Ghada spoke with conviction and aggression as she strove to make the case for the relatives she had left behind in Iraq who did not have the forum to speak for themselves.
However, the biggest applause was saved for Mr. Tony Benn (MP) who now, contrary to his own wishes, holds an iconic status for many who feel that the Government is no longer representative of the will of the people. All the speakers were essentially representing the same side of the argument, and quoted some despicable statistics that should shame us all.
We all know that 7500 Iraqi civilians have perished during our invasion / liberation (whatever you wish to call it), but this does not incorporate the tens of thousands of conscripted soldiers that have lost their lives and had been trained for only one pathetic week before the first bombs fell from their sky. They never stood a chance against the war machine of one of the greatest military powers in the world. We have been told that we were liberating these people from their dictator yet the first objective of the occupying forces was to successfully secure hundreds of oil fields, this before reconnecting electricity, clean running water, providing hospital supplies etc. And let us not forget Afghanistan, whose people still await their promised pecuniary aid over a year and a half after it was promised to them.
A microphone was then passed around the crowd so that individuals could put their views across or direct questions to the panel. Several pertinent questions were raised that challenged some of the speakers' views and this finally created something of a debate (which by nature, requires at least two opposing arguments) although in all honesty, none of these questions were addressed in any great detail.
The overall view, held by the panel and the majority of the crowd, was that Tony Blair and his Government has seriously misrepresented the people of this country, lying to us about the reasons for the war and for the actions that will be taken now that it is over. The prospect facing us is that this lie will now propagate itself into an insatiable monster waiting to attack Iran next before moving on to another country and then another. And perhaps we will never really know the real reasons why. We will only know that the two leaders of two of the most powerful countries in the world are hell bent on world domination to serve their own interests.
Whilst this all sounds very depressing, the mood of the debate was, in fact, inspiring and uplifting. Tony Benn insisted that we have the power to change what is happening. What's more, we can stop it happening again. If we are strong and united and take the necessary action then our Governments will have to take note. If you don't believe it, remember that women did not used to have the vote, remember Apartheid in South Africa and remember Ghandi. Non violent protest can win; it has before and it will again.
We'll see you on the streets in Septmember when we march once more to voice our horror at the actions of our country, and if you keep trying, we'll get there in the end. For further information, contact the Stop the War campaign.