Saturday’s The Wave demo saw crowds of up to 50,000 people coming out onto the streets to demand a result from governments on climate change at Copenhagen. That’s not a shabby number, and the organisers deserve praise for getting people out onto the streets in a season which has been unbelievably filthy.
But we have to be honest: 50,000 is a decent crowd. It’s not an unstoppable mandate for action.
In the history of British demonstrations, 50,000 is a medium-sized demo. In the 1980s, at the peak of concern about Cruise missiles, CND demonstrations attracted crowds of a quarter of a million. The Countryside Alliance’s strangely unfocussed march in 2002 attracted between 400,000 and one million people. The following year’s Iraq march brought between one and two million out onto the streets.
The Director of Stop Climate Chaos called the march “a turning point”. But really, the size of the crowds The Wave managed only underlines again how hard it is to engage the broader public with this issue.
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