On demonstrations, the Northern comrades are absolutely amazing. Getting coaches together for a demo is an absolute nightmare, even if you're only doing it from the other end of a phone like me.
Once you're on the coach, if you've got someone who can really engage with people, like we did on ours, (He's a catholic lay preacher socialist who knows exactly how to put people at their ease and engage them.) the journey up there is fun. It also helps to have a friend with tablets to ease the travel along. But then when you get there you're turning up all-fresh into a whirlwind. And you want to sell papers to people as if you're stood in Ealing, Southall or Hounslow. But it works differently everywhere you go. So you go to it, and after a while you get the hang of it and you're really cooking with gas then.
This is when you start to see the beauty of comrades in action.
Different people do different things extremely well, some can do all, some seem to do nothing, when in fact they're holding many different parts of this movement together and some do nothing, while doing many things. I suppose this is where the Northern Comrades have learned to adjust so well to changing situations. It seems to me that impressive figures are reached in many London districts, and deservedly so because the comrades work very hard to achieve them, but when it comes to building, the northern comrades really know how it is done
in the build up and aftermath of a demo. They know, because they have to book coaches all the bloody time and convince people to fork out money to go on them.
A lot of people go on demostrations and think to themselves 'I have attended, therefore I have done my bit.'. They are right. For a demonstration to achieve something, then people who wouldn't usually ever turn up to such a thing, but are carried away by the moment, are the most important people on that demonstration. They are the majority when the political scene is shifting, and they represent that shift. They are sky and earth to socialists.
When you run up to them and ask if they want to sign a petition, and perhaps do this and that extra and buy a paper and join a revolutionary organisation, if they at least smile at you, then they are fantastic, they are moved, and they are the movement.
If they actually join in these circumstances, they are thinking good stuff, that you are probably thinking as well. Click the 'don't be shy, give it a try' link for more on this.
If they go home, watch it on the television, then in ten years time vote a certain way because it seems like the right thing to do, then they are thinking good stuff, that you are probably thinking as well.
If they tell you to 'piss off', then they feel threatened, and on an anti war demo be gentle, they're delusional.
The best thing that you can do after going on an anti war demonstration, is make sure that more people go on it next time. As the war gets bigger, which it will, the demos have to get bigger, which they will. We're winning the race, but it doesn't yet look like it because the pacemakers haven't yet emerged.
You get that feeling more on a coach.