HUNDREDS of delegates were set to gather in London on Saturday for the conference of the Stop the War Coalition. There are now 13 national trade unions affiliated to the coalition as well as many campaigns, and community and student groups. The conference will be a crucial staging post in building the 15 February international day of action.
The coalition is also planning a series of events in London the day before the demonstration. Across London local groups will be organising accommodation for people who arrive from across Britain for those events. The coalition is also planning a major lobby of parliament on Tuesday 21 January-and has plans to call immediate protests if war begins.
Saturday's conference will hear keynote speeches from George Galloway MP, Tony Benn and Stop the War Coalition national convenor Lindsey German. It will also hear reports on the international anti-war movement, including a talk by former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella.
Stop the War Coalition conference. Saturday 11 January. Registration from 9.30am, starts 10.30am. Camden Centre, Judd Street, London (opposite King's Cross station).
Ben Bella will also introduce the classic film Battle of Algiers, 6.30pm, same venue. Tickets £2. For more details go to www.stopwar.org.uk
Oil and power
A TOP US defence official has revealed in a British newspaper that oil and power are key factors behind George Bush's war drive. The official argued that the US wanted to use Iraq's and the Middle East's oil to bolster US allies in the Far East as a counterweight to China's growing economic, political and military strength.
According to the Sunday Express the US official told them, 'Long term, our major strategic adversary will be China. The best way to contain China is to make sure that our allies in Asia are strong and prosperous. 'The two key countries are Japan and South Korea. And what is one of their industries? Oil refining.'
THE US intelligence agency the CIA is to take over a British air base in Uxbridge, Middlesex, to help conduct its covert operations. A Ministry of Defence source explained to journalists, 'The CIA has been looking for somewhere to expand its European and Middle East operations for several years.
'The deal was done between the British and American governments on the understanding there was a cover plan. Officially Uxbridge will become a US navy administration and coordination centre. There will, however, be just a handful of marines to guard the place. All the others will be civilian.'
The spy centre will be a crucial part of dirty tricks and covert operations in any war.
Protesting is not a crime
ANTI-WAR protester Leo Zeilig will face the courts again on Tuesday 28 January amid growing signs that the police are seeking to put other people in the dock as well.
Leo took part in the peaceful events in Whitehall on 31 October that were part of the Stop the War Coalition's anti-war day. He was tracked by police for large parts of the demonstration and then arrested in Trafalgar Square.
Now he is charged with incitement to violent disorder, an offence that has a maximum sentence of five years in jail. Leo strongly denies the charge. Several other people have also been charged with offences relating to the day's protests.
At a court hearing into Leo's case on 31 December the prosecution was 'not ready to proceed'. Legal observers suggest that this is because there are another ten people that the police want to arrest before they disclose the evidence in Leo's case.
Lobby to support Leo, Tuesday 28 January, 9.30am, Bow Street Magistrates' Court, London, WC2.
WERE YOU on the London anti-war demonstration on 31 October? Did you witness any incidents? If you did, however minor you may have regarded it as, you could have important information. Contact John Tipple at Linn and Associates solicitors. Phone 01255 240 880.