Over 15,000 people took part in the G8 Alternatives demonstration at Gleneagles yesterday afternoon.
Welcoming the marchers to Auchterarder at a rally in the local park, anti-war MP George Galloway said: ‘The most violent criminals on the earth today are in the Gleneagles Hotel at the G8 summit.’
Demonstrators on the march through the village of Auchterarder, near the G8 summit shouted ‘G8 has got to go!’, ‘George Bush, Tony Blair – Terrorists!’, ‘G8 Police State’ and ‘Bush and Blair Have Got to Go’.
Protesters carried placards saying things like ‘G8 Go To Hell and ‘You are G8 we are 6 Billion’ and ‘Another World is Possible’.
Everyone was carrying bright banners, red flags and Palestinian flags in a carnival mood despite the rain.
Riot police and police on horses were mobilised when a large group of demonstrators breached the agreed route to make off across fields to the Gleneagles summit perimeter fence.
A Chinook military helicopter was used to ferry riot police to reinforce the others where the fence was breached.
And there were clashes with riot police in the village, with demonstrators using police fencing to protect themselves from baton charges by riot police with plastic shields.
Referring to the G8 leaders, Galloway had said earlier: ‘These criminals won’t be wearing hoods, they won’t be wearing masks but they are responsible for the deaths of millions of people around the world by their globalised capitalism, by their wars and their exploitation of the world’s resources and its environment.
‘If the police want to do the world a favour go and arrest them all now.’
He said: ‘We’re speaking for the Iraqis, the Palestinians and Afghan people – all those living under violent occupation.
‘We’re going to march and we’re going to raise our voices against the criminals in Gleneagles.’
Galloway said he will be ‘asking pointed questions’ in Parliament today about the actions of the authorities.
Demonstrator Simon Jones from Liverpool told News Line: ‘The G8 are really scared about what’s going on, that’s why they’ve had to clamp down so hard on all the demonstrations.
‘There’s only one way that poverty can be made history and that’s to get rid of private ownership of production I think we need to go forward to a socialist society.’
Tony Thornton, branch secretary of City of Plymouth UNISON, who brought their banner, said: ‘We’ve got three coaches up from Plymouth at the weekend and today because what’s happening around the world is also happening to us.’
Earlier coach loads of marchers had been stopped for hours on the road before they were allowed to proceed to Auchterarder under an escort of dozens of police vans.
In Edinburgh over 1,000 people, hoping to get on the coaches to the demonstration were turned back and held an impromptu demonstration in Princes Street in protest.
On the way to the demonstration, Trevor Ngwane from Soweto in south Africa told News Line: ‘Most of the world’s problems starting with slavery, colonialism and apartheid is because of the capitalist system.
‘It’s a system that puts profits before the needs of people.’
Prime Minister Tony Blair held a joint press conference in Edinburgh yesterday with Bob Geldof and fellow singer Bono.
Geldof said Blair has the ‘biggest democratic mandate in history’ to press G8 leaders hard for an African aid deal or run the risk of a ‘terrible human failure’.
Blair stressed the need to link climate change and helping Africa take a bigger slice of global trade. He also said he wanted to see ‘a firm understanding to end the trade distorting subsidies’.
Bono urged the G8 leaders to consider extra measures, targeted for example on the education of girls and the fight against malaria.