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Opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan produced the largest-ever protest movement in British history, a massive upsurge in peace campaigning that has been replicated around much of the world. It led on 15 February 2003 to an estimated one million people demonstrating in London to protest the immanent invasion of Iraq, dwarfing such landmark campaigns as those for universal suffrage, women’s rights and the anti-Vietnam opposition in the late 1960s. On the third anniversary of the war, 18 March 2006, thousands once more took to the streets to demand an end to the Iraq occupation.1 Throughout this time, though the protest had its peaks and troughs, there was never a time when it was not a presence, whether in peace vigils, direct action against military institutions, lobbies of Parliament or marches against the war. This surge in anti-war activism took place alongside an apparently continuing decline in formal political engagement (evidenced in falls in voting turnout, party membership and esteem of political representatives), but also in a context of a decade of internationally coordinated anti-globalization activism. It also coincided with the continued and accelerating development of new media, notably the Internet.
KeywordsSocial Movement Vote Turnout Party Membership Virtual Level Alternative Information
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