New protests across Britain

A FRESH wave of anti-war protests was being held across the UK today as tens of thousands of people were taking to the streets to demonstrate against the bombing of Iraq.

A FRESH wave of anti-war protests was being held across the UK today as tens of thousands of people were taking to the streets to demonstrate against the bombing of Iraq.

The biggest event was being held in London, where left wing Labour MPs were joining union leaders and schoolchildren in addressing a huge rally in Hyde Park.

The Stop The War Coalition (STWC) said it was expecting a "substantial demonstration" against the UK's involvement in the war on Iraq.

More than a million people thronged the streets of the capital last month to urge Prime Minister Tony Blair not to commit British troops to the military conflict.

The number of people attending today's hastily arranged event is unlikely to reach the same levels, but the coalition believed it could still be the biggest ever demonstration in this country against a war in progress.

Coach-loads of demonstrators were travelling to London from across the country to take part in the march and rally.

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Speakers will include Labour MPs Alice Mahon, Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway, and union leaders Bob Crow (Rail Maritime and Transport union), Keith Sonnet (Unison) and Billy Hayes (Communication Workers Union).

Children from London schools were also due to speak to the crowds.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was holding a separate rally opposite Downing Street as well as protests at a US air base in Harrogate and a demonstration outside RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

Carol Naughton, CND chairwoman, said: "The worldwide outrage over this war has meant that we have not seen the expected massive bombardment of Iraq. If we had seen on our television screens whole cities alight, along with huge numbers of civilian deaths, there would have been uproar all over the world.

"It is now vital that people keep protesting to keep up the pressure on our government. We now hope and pray that this war is over as soon as possible.''

CND said it believed the so-called "shock and awe'' bombardment of Iraq had not happened because of the strength of anti-war feeling in the United States and the UK.

Anti-war protesters saddled up for fresh demonstrations yesterday when they took to the streets on bikes to express their opposition to the bombing in Iraq.

The protest caused traffic problems in cities including London and Sheffield, with cyclists shouting anti-war slogans as they cycled through Whitehall, passing Downing Street and Parliament Square.

One of the London cyclists said: "We must stop this war in the name of peace as well as the environment. If America and Britain spent as much on renewable energy as they do on arms, this world would be a very different place.''

Thousands of protests against the war took place in Britain on Thursday shortly after military action began in Iraq.

School students disrupted many city centres, stopping traffic, while more than 5,000 demonstrators massed in Parliament Square in London.

A number of people faced charges following this week's anti-war protests.

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