| A protester at an anti-Bush rally in London. (AFP)
London, Nov. 19 (Reuters): George W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth lookalikes in an open-top coach, a giant inflatable missile and a pink “peace tank” wound through London today in a cavalcade of protest against the US President’s visit to Britain.
The march was a colourful prelude to demonstrations tomorrow, when some 100,000 people are expected to take to the capital’s streets to express their anger about the war in Iraq. “I’m ashamed to be British. I’m ashamed Tony Blair and the Queen are entertaining this megalomaniac,” said Cherry Bennet, 40, a scriptwriter from London.
“I’m not a mad Left-winger,” she added. “I’m middle England.”
Bennet was among hundreds of people gathered on the south bank of the Thames where today’s “Alternative State Procession” began. Security concerns meant Bush himself missed out on the traditional open-carriage parade along the Mall by Buckingham Palace.
The protest cavalcade rumbled away, led by a horse-drawn carriage carrying “Bush and the queen.” Behind the coach was an 18-foot-long inflatable Trident missile and a pink “peace and love” tank, driven by a young boy. Around 50 police were in attendance. They estimated the number of demonstrators at 350 although organisers said the turnout was higher.
A black cab represented “taxi drivers against the war” and a red bus advertised its route as London-Baghdad. Some marchers were dressed as UN weapons inspectors or Guantanamo Bay detainees.
“This is really street theatre symbolising all the different elements of the peace movement. It presages tomorrow which we hope will be the largest weekday demonstration,” said Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition, one of the organisers.
“George Bush may leave on Friday but Tony Blair is going to pay the consequences for a very long time.”
Banners proclaimed the US was the “excess of evil” and declared Bush was “one piece of garbage we are prepared to dismantle here” — a reference to the so-called “ghost fleet” of US ships on its way to Britain for scrapping.