The Legacy of Gleneagles

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In last month's Socialist Review Noam Chomsky challenged the agenda of the G8 summit in Gleneagles ('Our World is Not for Sale').

Today the effects of the protests against the summit are still being felt in Scotland. Like previous anti-capitalist protests the majority of those attending the events were from the local area. The Make Poverty History march was the biggest demonstration ever seen in Scotland. The G8 Alternatives summit was the biggest ever political meeting in Scotland, and the Gleneagles demonstration attracted up to 15,000 people despite the best efforts of the police to undermine, disrupt and prevent it.

Many of the local residents in Craigmillar - a working class housing estate in Edinburgh which was the location of the G8 campsite - played a vital role in making the demonstrators feel welcome. Despite initial annoyance at the council for their lack of consultation in siting the camp, after meetings with G8 Alternatives activists local residents made welcome banners and provided free food for the protesters. Many of them attended the G8 Alternatives counter-summit and the political meetings at the campsite on topics like imperialism, and marched at Gleneagles. They say they feel transformed by the experience and want to fight to make real change in their community. Currently they are organising against housing stock transfer, and building for the Stop the War demo on 24 September. They remain in contact with several of the visitors to the site.

In Glasgow a post-G8 activists meeting called at a few days notice to discuss future activities saw an attendance of more than 70 people, many of them at their first meeting. They discussed how to build for the 24 September demonstration and are in the process of setting up a climate change activists group.

As a result of protesting in the Scottish Parliament over defending the right to march on Gleneagles, four Scottish Socialist Party MSPs have been suspended for a month, had their wages docked and are banned from even entering the parliament building. Public meetings and demonstrations are being planned in their support.

The sense of excitement, participation and the political insights gained in the G8 protests mean that there has been a valuable legacy from the events both in terms of reinvigorating activists and bringing new layers of people into activity.

Jimmy Ross