Serving the movement

Around the web: Stop the War Coalition

It is not very often I am full of praise for the Socialist Workers Party, but on this occasion the comrades have to be thanked for not letting their webmaster anywhere near the Stop the War Coalition home page. Indeed, so impressive is the initial appearance that there cannot possibly be any relation between this and the shambles that passes for the SWP website (see Weekly Worker December 19 2002). Understandably, the February 15 demo receives pride of place, leading with Tessa Jowell's U-turn over the Hyde Park rally ban. Immediately underneath are the latest assembly and route details for the London demo, followed by links to the STWC website (are we not already here?), as well as to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Muslim Association of Britain. These in turn are followed by further links to coach drop-off and collection points, the resource page, and a car share scheme. Completing this first section is an advertisement for 'eve of demo' events taking place across London. The next, much reduced section provides details for the Glasgow mobilisation. The wealth of detail provided for the England and Wales demo is absent here, and we are offered access to the Scottish Coalition for Justice not War. Interestingly the link provided does nothing of the sort, loading the website for Scottish CND instead. This section is followed by a series of upcoming events and announcements, before giving the low-down on the many demonstrations taking place across the globe on February 15. From here the page continues down "� and down, and down. All in all 17 screens-worth of material is produced here. Thankfully the handy side bar provides connections to its various parts, saving the time and effort of having to scroll down searching for a particular piece. Turning to the top half of the side bar, it provides links to seven other sections of the website. The action section is subdivided into four - events over February 14 and 15, one-off events, regular events, and protests in case war breaks out. The only criticism that can be ventured here is that these are for the most part London-based, but the option is provided to add your own event. The press link too is very good, collecting together press releases, new stories, photos, and downloadable speeches from STWC actions over the last six months. The resources link complements this area very well with a wealth of petitions, posters, placards, and bulletins available for download. A 'lobby your politician' area is also included, providing the tools necessary to get hold of your MP or MEP online. Access to other sites can be found under 'Links' and 'Groups', both of which are very comprehensive. The latter provides website and email details for literally dozens of local peace groups across Britain, as well as political groups from the CPGB to the Ruskin Anarchist Federation. The other links section carries less material, repeating some but carrying other UK and international peace websites. Finally, credit has to be given to the webmaster for providing a site map, allowing easy navigation around what could otherwise be a bewildering maze. Unfortunately not all is rosy in the STWC garden. The main criticism one can level is that it fails to make the case against the very war it is opposing! The nearest to it on the home page is a link to the 'Cairo declaration' (available in English and Arabic). The archives section does carry a number of anti-war articles, many of which seem to be preaching to the converted. But it also contains the problematic 'Letter from Baghdad', written by the Oxford Research Group. While usefully outlining the effects of 12 years of sanctions and bombing, it puts a positive spin on a variety of political 'reforms' implemented in Iraq since last October. Among these are a rescinding of mandatory hand amputations for thieves, and the right for dissidents to criticise the government (providing they are not linked to foreign intelligence services). The 'soft on Saddam' politics of the STWC steering committee are faithfully reproduced in this collection. In sum, the anti-war movement is well served by this website. It is just a shame that the SWP cannot bring itself to lavish such attention on the Socialist Alliance online. Phil Hamilton