Build second People's Assembly

As the imperialist armies get a grip around the throat of Saddam Hussein's regime, the anti-war movement needs to think, regroup and prepare for the next phase of Bush's permanent war for a New American century. The ideal forum would be a second People's Assembly for Peace. Our first Peoples' Assembly for Peace on March 12 was a qualified success. Well over a thousand delegates came together to discuss the war and the way forward. Overwhelmingly they were working class, left activists and school student strikers. A declaration was passed by this anti-war parliament. For all its faults and limitations, it pointed beyond simply demonstrating what we are all against. It pointed to the need to organise around a political alternative to the war party in the quasi-democratic, cumbersome, unrepresentative and monarchist Westminster parliament. Unfortunately the Socialist Workers Party and Morning Star's Communist Party of Britain organisers spoke a lot about democracy but failed to fully practice it. Apart from agreeing to a silly motion originating from News Line's Workers Revolutionary Party calling for the TUC to stage the general strike, no other ideas were given a proper hearing. CPGB and Workers Power motions were ruled out "because of time". For the Morning Star's Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War Coalition, the main thing was giving a platform to Liberal Democrats and even Tories. The SWP wrongly views the People's Assembly as a threat to the Stop the War Coalition. However, it is the SWP itself that has determinedly kept STWC as a single issue campaign. Attempts to widen its political remit have been consistently resisted and where necessary voted down. Yet the mass movement that came into existence against war in Iraq must not be allowed to simply wind down till the next US attempt at regime change somewhere else in the world. On our great demonstration of February 15 we represented the majority of the population in Britain, albeit a 'soft' anti-war majority. The outbreak of war on March 20 and the patriotic backlash has seen the likes of Charles Kennedy and his Liberal Democrats, the Mirror and others join the chauvinist 'support our boys' chorus of the war party. We are now a minority "“ albeit a significant one. Tony Benn pointed out that the March 22 demonstration was the largest anti-war mobilisation during a war in British history. We must now fight to rewin an anti-war majority, but on wider politics. On the politics of consistent democracy at home and abroad. On the politics of anti-imperialism and support for national self-determination for the peoples of Iraq. A second People's Assembly - beginning with local assemblies - could provide a vital forum for this necessary political development to be debated and agreed. This sentiment is echoed by George Galloway, the maverick Labour MP and prominent anti-war leader. He has called for another assembly. It must, he says, be "bigger and more representative". Having the last one on a weekday was a "tactical error". But the People's Assembly idea is an "alternative model of democracy that we should develop". Marcus Ström