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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Protesters gear up for G8 summit
Perimeter fence at Gleneagles hotel
Security is already in place at the Gleneagles hotel, Perthshire

While the leaders of the major industrialised nations are preparing to discuss climate change and aid to Africa, police and protesters are also gearing up for the 2005 G8 summit.

At the Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire from 6 to 8 July, Tony Blair and his counterparts from US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia will be discussing weighty issues.

Just as the security planning for such a gathering has been meticulous, so has the planning by anti-G8 campaigners.

Activities ranging from nuclear protests to feminist gatherings, from golf to a human chain, are being planned.

White band

Four days before the summit, the high-profile Make Poverty History campaign will hold a rally in Edinburgh.

Organisers are hoping up to 200,000 people, all dressed in white, will form a human "white band" in the city centre, echoing the white wrist bands sported by celebrities and supporters.

Sir Bob Geldof has called for as many people as possible to come to stay in Edinburgh for the duration of the summit itself.

"It's not going to be a march, I don't think that's a good description of it, it's going to be a party. I like parties, I'm quite good at organising them and this is going to be the biggest party ever held," he told BBC News 24.

"If the principals who are in the middle of this party - the eight leaders who can control the world's economic destiny - don't want to come to the party then don't show up in our country."

Sir Bob said he was confident Edinburgh could deal the numbers of people expected in the city, and did not think there would be any trouble, partly because British police were "the most experienced with hooligans on the bloody planet".

Nun with Make Poverty History balloon
Organisers hope people from all parts of society will gather...

Last time the G8 Summit was held in Britain, in 1998, about 50,000 people formed a human chain in Birmingham, calling on the G8 to drop the debt of the world's poorest countries.

That summit also saw a clash between riot police and protesters, mainly from the Reclaim the Streets anti-car group, as delegates enjoyed a formal dinner and pop concert.

This time cyclists, encouraged by Jubilee Debt Campaign and Trade Injustice and Debt Action Leeds, are organising numerous journeys from around the UK to Edinburgh, including from John O'Groats, Land's End, Southampton and London.

Going nuclear

Also on 4 July, a protest will be held at the biggest military base in Scotland, Faslane, 60 miles from the summit venue.

Faslane is a Royal Navy submarine base on the Clyde and is the home port for all four British Trident nuclear armed submarines.

Organisers, acting on the premise that "war creates poverty and poverty creates war", say they will shut down the base for the day.

Scottish police train for summit duty
...but police have trained to deal with violent protesters

On the first day of the summit, a rally organised by G8 Alternatives, will move from Gleneagles rail station to the gates of the hotel.

With the rallying cry of "They are G8, but we are six billion," the organisers hope thousands will attend to voice their criticism that the "group of 8 white men have brought war, occupation, neoliberal corporate globalisation, poverty and environmental devastation".

But they may not get far: police have created an exclusion zone around the hotel near Auchterarder, including the road which protesters want to take and several rights of way which cross the Gleneagles golf courses.

It is part of extra security in Scotland, which the UK government had offered 20m towards.

The total amount for security has not been published, but First Minister Jack McConnell dismissed reports that it could reach 100m.

'Flood the G8'

G8 Climate Action has called 8 July its international day of action on the root causes of climate change.

It wants people to "Stop climate chaos - flood the G8!", whether they can make it to Scotland, or make a protest wherever they may be.

Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi on Friday
Tony Blair will host his counterparts at the Scottish summit

Queer G8 will also form a protest with feminists "to take action together, in grand non-patriarchal style".

The feminists said: "Our invitation to the meeting must have been lost in the post, but we plan to show up anyway and let them know what we think."

Their response to the G8 meeting includes the criticism that it is an "unjust, unequal, violent, war-mongering, racist, women-hating global agenda".

Golf-playing activists have also been encouraged to attempt to play a round at the Gleneagles golf club, but with "no caddies, no masters".

Moderate tones

In contrast to the strident criticism of the fringe groups, mainstream charities, churches and community groups are urging people - in more moderate tones - to visit Edinburgh.

Oxfam said it wants people to tell the leaders that they want "trade justice, debt cancellation, and more and better aid for the world's poorest countries".

Catholic bishops of England and Wales said they "wholeheartedly support the Make Poverty History campaign and we urge Catholics in England and Wales to play their part in it".




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