Pensioners and peace activists, students and school students, trade unionists and members of Scotland’s Muslim communities came together in their hundreds at last Saturday’s Scottish Stop the War Coalition conference.
Glasgow city councillor Alex Mossan welcomed everyone to the city on behalf of the council – proudly recalling that on 15 February 2003, while Lord Provost, he had led over 50,000 in a march through the city against the Iraq war.
Shona Morrison, the president of Glasgow University’s student representative council, welcomed people to the university where the event was held.
She denounced the department of education’s call for “Asian looking” students to be spied upon by lecturers.
Glasgow university student Danny Rooney was among many who argued that the conference should be a springboard for the 24 February demonstration in the city, saying that his group was planning anti-war stalls five days a week.
Johnathan Shafi came from Strathclyde university. He said, “Our Stop the War group kicked off last term with a meeting of 60 people.
“Now we’re planning another meeting to build the demo.” Raisah Ahmed, also at Strathclyde, said, “We plan to let everybody know about the demo by doing stalls and leafleting every day.”
The presence of students, in large numbers, from each of the main universities was one of the strengths of the conference.
Stephanie Spoto, secretary of the Edinburgh University Stop the War group, reported that her group helped build a general meeting of the students’ association that attracted 250 people. The meeting voted for motions opposing war, Trident replacement and Islamophobia.
Not to be outdone, Cally Tomlinson and Ruby Dayan, co-convenors of Edinburgh School Students Against the War, promised they would mobilise their 30 members to flypost the city and leaflet every secondary school.
The turn out from the trade unions was impressive. Delegations came from Amicus, FBU, T&G, UCU, EIS, Unison and many trades councils. The Scottish TUC mailed every union branch in Scotland urging support for the event and the demonstration.
Next month’s Scottish council of the RMT rail workers’ union will hear a report from the conference and decide whether it will affiliate to the Stop the War Coalition.
A major Stop the War fringe meeting is now planned for April’s STUC congress.
Members of Military Families Against the War also spoke last Saturday. They were encouraged by promises from the Scottish executive that army recruitment targeting Scottish schools would be curtailed.
Members of the Scottish parliament from Labour, the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Greens, the Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity addressed the conference, and there was a strong feeling of unity.
Having agreed an interim Scottish Stop the War Coalition committee that involves Labour and SNP members, students and trade unionists, the 500 plus delegates left the conference determined to build Stop the War across Scotland and to guarantee a mass turnout on 24 February.