Clashes feared at conference protest
Friday September 28, 2001
Peace protestors demonstrating outside the Labour party conference in Brighton this weekend fear the police will have "carte blanche" to harass them, after the terrorist attacks in the US.
The protest organisers had forecast that up to 10,000 people would rally outside the conference on Sunday to protest against Labour's plans for privatisation.
That number may now be swollen by peace protestors angered by Britain's close alliance with the US in its plans for military strikes in Afghanistan.
Anna Bragga, the Green party's spokeswoman on globalisation, and one of the organisers of the demonstration, said: "We are extremely fearful of what the police reaction may be if there is the smallest sign of trouble.
"Labour party conferences already have a high security presence, and we fear that the police may have carte blanche to go in at any disturbance, after the terrorist attacks in America.
"Since we expect 10,000 people to be there, that is making for a fearful situation."
The organisers of the demonstration, which include Globalise Resistance - the main anti-globalisation coalition - and a myriad of other, smaller groups, orginally intended to organise a free festival and to stage random "happenings" across the city.
However, Sussex police vetoed that plan, and will allow the demonstration only to snake past the waterfront conference centre in one direction.
Unless that order is altered, some organisers predict trouble as there may not be enough room for the column to perform a u-turn on the narrow stretch of road between beach and buildings.
The demonstration will follow a conference in London on Saturday, which will be addressed by Tony Benn, the former Labour cabinet minister, and Bruce Kent, a peace campaigner.
Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for south-east England, said: "This event will give ordinary people the chance to come together to protest at the way New Labour is ignoring their interests while it is forging ever closer ties to big business.
"It is becoming clearer that the Green party is now the party of social justice, while Labour is offering just another brand of consumer capitalism, with a Tory-style militarised foreign policy to boot."
The demonstration is scheduled for Sunday from noon until 6pm.
The Labour party conference itself gets under way on Sunday.
Due to the international crisis it will end a day early, on Wednesday, before parliament is reconvened on Thursday for an emergency session.