Stop the War Coalition leaders and political fabrication
You would think that this might be an excellent time to step up the campaign against the New Labour government and to broaden the discussion about possible alternatives. The hounding to his death of government scientist Dr David Kelly has backfired on the Blair regime in a spectacular way. Even the genteel Hutton inquiry has exposed the fabricated nature of the infamous Iraq weapons dossier for all to see.
Pubic support for New Labour is falling away, not just over Iraq but on a range of issues like education, transport and the health service. A great opportunity, one could argue, to discuss political possibilities beyond New Labour and ways of extending democracy representation beyond a powerless parliamentary system.
Unless you are the leadership of the Stop the War Coalition (STWC), in which case you do everything in your power to avoid these issues. Well before the countdown to the invasion of Iraq, the STWC leaders had one single objective - to corral the mass movement that sprung up in opposition to war and confine its aspirations to doomed protest activities.
This self-appointed leadership is made up predominantly of the opportunist, pseudo-revolutionary Socialist Workers Party, the remnants of the Stalinist Communist Party of Britain, the pacifists around CND and a few Labour ‘left’ MPs.
Despite their apparent differences, what unites them is an agreement that we cannot get beyond the political status quo of a New Labour government and existing “democratic” forms like the House of Commons.
Their sole aim, therefore, is to increase the pressure on the Blair government to abandon its policy of invading countries like Iraq and, according to the People’s Assembly declaration of August 30, “adopt instead a foreign policy based on principles of peace and social justice”.
Despite lots of militant noises from the floor about how economic interests lay behind the invasion, the declaration adopted by the gathering was a betrayal of the aspirations of all those millions who marched against the war. They constituted a social movement whose horizons were lifted beyond New Labour and the limited nature of parliamentary democracy.
The STWC leadership, on the other hand, wants to march them back into political line. This was clear from the moment they called the assembly with the aim of “indicting the government” for lying about the reasons for invading Iraq. Anyone who has given the matter a moment’s thought long ago worked out that the Blair regime viewed the so-called weapons mass destruction as a peripheral issue. The invasion was always about forcing Iraq into the world market dominated by transnational corporations.
In any case, since when have imperialist governments ever given the real reasons for their wars? The implication is, of course, that if New Labour’s “evidence” had been correct, we should have had to support the war because it was based on “truth”.
The STWC declaration of August 30 actually declared that the conduct of the Blair government in systematically lying about WMD “represents a negation of democracy” when, in fact, the opposite is true. The use of the term “democracy” in this way lends credibility to a political system controlled by a powerful minority.
It is the same “democracy” that rules on behalf of economic corporations that are plundering the developing world, exploiting working people on a global scale and polluting the planet towards its extinction as an environment for human life. This “democracy” has waged countless imperialist wars against rivals and ruled over empires built by force and oppression, justified by lies and propaganda about “national interest” and “threats to civilisation”. The invasion of Iraq was, therefore, entirely consistent with capitalist “democracy”.
As for the declaration’s demands, they won’t have Blair quaking in his boots. These are restricted to the call for the government to be “held to account by the public and parliament for these lies and this assault on democracy” and for the withdrawal of UK and US troops from Iraq.
Blair himself has declared he would have to resign if the story claiming that Downing Street had “sexed up” the WMD dossier were true. You will not find such a suggestion in the August 30 declaration, however. This omission is in stark contrast to the resolution passed at the first assembly in February, which declared that “in the event of war starting, the prime minister should resign”.
The August 30 declaration effectively gives Blair and New Labour a political lease of life. Those attending were urged to “demand that the British government dissociate itself from all further wars of aggression planned by the US administration” and “adopt instead a foreign policy based on principles of peace and social justice”.
So the message is: “Dear Tony, please behave better in future and keep away from those naughty Americans. Yours sincerely, STWC leadership.”
If anyone ought to be indicted for political fabrication it should be the STWC leaders. They deceive the anti-war movement when they propose that New Labour can be “turned” by pressure from a warmongering government into one pursuing “peace and justice”.
You can’t reform New Labour because it is tied to the corporations and the state. That is the truth, unpalatable as it may seem to the SWP and others. Anything else amounts to a political sleight of hand, such as we witnessed on August 30.
for a Socialist Future