Speech of Tony Benn at Iraq war demonstration, London, 28 September 2002

transcribed by Stephen Hewitt

Below is a transcript of the speech made by Tony Benn in Hyde Park, London, England on 28th September 2002.

The transcript was made from the MP3 recording on the Stop the War website. This recording by muzikin is at http://www.stopwar.org.uk/audio/iraqseptdemo/TonyBenn.mp3

This and recordings of the other speakers are available from the following page (the links are near the bottom of the page at the time of writing this, 23 Feb 2003) http://www.stopwar.org.uk/press.asp

Editorial comments are in square brackets [].

Tony Benn:

[unclear because of applause] comrades and friends [unclear because of applause] here today represent the people [unclear because of applause] the majority of the population of the world. We are not a protest movement. We represent the majority of the people in Britain and very possibly the majority of people in the United States who are opposed to the bush policy. We represent the courageous people in israel who do not believe it is right, what sharon is trying to do to the Palestinian people [unclear, because of applause] very clear message we are against the war. We believe it would be wholly immoral and wrong and criminal for the United States and Britain to attack Iraq and inflict casualties upon innocent people and that is why we are here. We also note that president bush seems anxious now to alienate the united nations so he can say that he has no alternative but to act.

And what we are demanding is very simple. Of course we want disarmament in the middle east but it's got to be a proper balanced disarmament. We must see an end to the sanctions against Iraqi people who have suffered so much over the last [unclear] years.

We want to see the establishment now of a Palestinian state now [unclear because of applause and cheers] We want to see the israeli government withdrawing entirely from the occupied territories and recognising [unclear due to applause and shouting] and we want a peace conference in the middle east under the auspices of the united nations to tackle these and many other questions.

There are many speakers and I only have one other thing to say and its this. it may be that [unclear] bush will go to war within a matter of weeks it may be that prime minister blair will send our troops into battle but I say this to you nothing can take the British people into a war that they do not accept. [unclear due to applause] ...responsibility for what has happened will rest with those who have taken that decision. There is a share of that responsibility with us as well and wherever we live or work if this war begins we have a plain duty to take time out at once to see that everybody understands what is happening and is able to mobilise to stop the war. I believe that we are - that we have a good chance of keeping Britain out of the war if we go on organising in the brilliant way that the stop the war coalition and muslim association and others have organised. But do not make any mistake. We are responsible for what is done in our name and that gives us a duty to see that the government that governs us does not take us into a war that would involve criminal loss of life of innocent people and we must see it is not allowed to happen. Comrades thank you very much.