Monday, 27 January 2020

Protest numbers (2002)

150 year history of official dissembling about protest numbers
Written By: London Socialist Historians Group
Date: January 2002
Published In LSHG Newsletter Issue 14: Lent 2002 

Members of the London Socialist Historians Group attended the 100,000-strong anti-war demonstration in London on November 18th. Following police claims that only 15,000 people had attended, we issued the following press release:

“The London Socialist Historians Group, sponsors of the socialist history seminar at the Institute of Historical Research in central London, have pointed out that there is an historical parallel for official underestimation of the numbers attending protests in the Capital stretching back 150 years. “At the Stop the War demonstration on 18th November, police estimated 15,000 had attended, while the organisers put the figure at 100,000. By an interesting coincidence 15,000 was also the number estimated as attending the Chartist protest at Kennington Common on Monday 10th April 1848 by the senior police officer in charge Richard Mayne. Chartist organisers argued that 100,000 plus had attended, and historians have tended to support this estimate, by reference to photographs of the protest and other evidence.
“London Socialist Historians Convenor Keith Flett said, Underestimating the numbers on demonstrations in order to downplay the significance of protests is one of the oldest tricks of authority in Britain. It is not the preserve of the paranoid or conspiracy theorists either. Historical investigation into the Chartist demonstration on April 10th 1848 shows that the process of the 'official lie' was first used then and is still current today.”

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