On the fourth anniversary of the start of the war on Iraq, the Stop the War Coalition is holding “the debate that parliament won’t have”.
The People’s Assembly will take place in Central Hall Westminster in London next Tuesday, 20 March. There will be sessions on Iraq, foreign policy after Blair and against an attack on Iran.
At least 15 MPs have said that they will attend. US Democrat congressman Dennis Kucinich, a longtime opponent of the war, is travelling from the US to speak at the event. Delegates will vote on a declaration.
Daniela, from the Stop the War national office, told Socialist Worker, “We have had lots of people ringing the office for forms to register.
“Last week a sixth form teacher in Bedfordshire rang to reserve 20 places for her students. Many local Stop the War groups have chosen their delegates. We are also getting growing numbers of trade union delegations and calls from CND groups and other campaigns.”
Delegates registered so far come from a broad range of organisations including the Kurdish Federation in the UK, the Bromley Pensioners group, the Indian Workers Association, Eastbourne Quakers and Kew Liberal Democrats.
Many trade unions are sending delegations. Phoebe Watkins, from the Camden Unison union in north London, told Socialist Worker, “Our branch agreed to send up to ten delegates to the People’s Assembly. We have supported Stop the War events over a number of years.”
Bristol Unison is sending up to 12 delegates and Islington Unison is sending four.
Delegates booked include members of the Scottish region of the T&G, the NUJ press and public relations branch, Amicus Westminster, Haringey trades council and Waltham Forest trades council.
Sara Tomlinson from Lambeth NUT teachers’ union in south London told Socialist Worker, “We are sending a delegate that will report back to us.
“When I raised the issue at the union branch I compared the money that the government spends on war with the lack of money for public services such as education.
“New Labour is set to invest more money in the Trident nuclear weapons replacement.”
Student groups are also organising delegations. The student unions at Staffordshire and Liverpool universities have backed the People’s Assembly.
John Cooper moved the motion at Liverpool university’s guild council—the equivalent of a student union.
He told Socialist Worker, “There has been a lot of discussion over the war and some arguments in the council, but there was overwhelming support for the People’s Assembly.
“This is the result of the growing activism on campus over the issue of the war.
“There is a broad range of groups and individuals involved in the Stop the War Coalition here – including people from the politics society, the Islamic society, Respect and others.
“Lots of new people are still getting involved – people who went to the recent demonstration in London have helped to reinvigorate the group.
“We are planning to send a minibus of students from Liverpool university.”
The People’s Assembly, 2pm-8pm, Tuesday 20 March, Central Hall, Westminster, London SW1. To register or for more information phone 020 7278 6694 or email firstname.lastname@example.org