More of the same
Around 100 students gathered at London's School of Oriental and African Studies on Saturday September 8 for what was billed as a student Stop the War "conference". Nick Jones reports
Around 100 students gathered at London's School of Oriental and African Studies on Saturday September 8 for what was billed as a student Stop the War "conference". But, of course, it was more of a rally, interspersed with contributions from the floor. Platform speakers included National Union of Students president Gemma Tumelty, the Socialist Workers Party's Lindsey German and Stop the War Coalition president Tony Benn.
Socialist Worker's report of the meeting, written by Assed Baig, made great play of Gemma Tumelty's statement that "things have changed" in the NUS from a year ago, when the leadership refused to demand an Israeli ceasefire in Lebanon (September 15). But the same could not be said of the STWC's 'grand old Duke of York' strategy. There is to be more of the same: demonstrations, 'conference' rallies and, in the immediate future, the "very important" lobby of parliament on October 8.
Lindsey German reminded us about the STWC's long list of "global successes" , ranging from the premature departure of Blair from office to the "recent decision to withdraw British troops from Basra to a base outside the city". Daily mortar and rocket attacks probably had more to do with that than the STWC's routine mobilisations. Anyway, not surprisingly, German brushed aside suggestions that the 'strategy' of yet more marches, distinguishable from previous ones only by their dwindling numbers, amount to grand old Duke of Yorkism.
Numbers alone can never prevent war. Including the pending air war against Iran. What is needed is principled politics and a viable strategy for state power. Ben Lewis of Communist Students pointed out that effective opposition to an imperialist attack on Iran could only be built on the basis of a two-pronged approach, which linked opposition to the air war with solidarity with the struggles of the Iranian people against the reactionary regime. To act as apologists for Tehran would be to shoot ourselves in the foot and disable the anti-war movement.
This position of solidarity with Iranian working class and democratic forces was caricatured by an SWP member from the floor - to the evident approval of the STWC leadership on the platform - as "dictating to the Iranian left".