By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2802

Organise protests to hit back at the West’s escalation of war

Organising big mobilisations are essential to stop our rulers' drive to endless war
Issue 2802
Stop the War protest

At the Stop the War protest in March (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Stop the War Coalition in Britain and other organisations have called for an international day of action on Saturday 7 May. Stop the War says, “We are calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops, an end to the military escalation by the Nato countries and a negotiated solution to this terrible war which risks nuclear escalation.

“We are asking all anti-war organisations, progressive groups and concerned individuals to organise protests, public meetings and petitioning sessions.” It’s a chance to confidently take the message against invasion and escalation onto the streets. Campaigners should organise the biggest possible events on the day that show the anti-war message is not isolated.

Despite no encouragement—indeed hostility—from the Labour Party and some trade union leaders, millions of people feel no enthusiasm for a wider war. They are fearful of moves that risk nuclear conflict. Such views need to be made public.

Campaigners in Scotland have given a lead by calling a national demonstration on the day. It will demand, “Russian troops out—no to Nato escalation,” and, “No nuclear war—scrap Trident”. The Stop the War Coalition’s annual general meeting on Saturday saw around 150 people discuss the growing war moves and how to oppose them.

A resolution restating the position of opposition to both the Russian invasion and Nato expansion was passed by 119 to nine with ten abstentions. Two other motions which included no criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were defeated with 24 votes for and around 100 against.

Socialist Worker supporters argued strongly for opposition to Nato, but also against the Russian invasion. Stop the War and others have called for another day of action on 25 June, just before the Nato summit in Madrid, Spain.

  • Glasgow demonstration, Sat 7 May, assemble Blythswood Square, 12 noon, for march to George Square for rally

CWU union avoids criticism of Nato
Delegates at the CWU union conference on Tuesday overwhelmingly defeated a motion that criticised Nato over its role in the war in Ukraine.
 
The motion, moved by South Central Postal branch, condemned Russia’s invasion but said, “The US and Nato have helped create the conflict.” It pointed to Nato’s expansion into eastern Europe as a factor in the process that led to war.”
 
Union leaders across the trade union movement have recoiled from criticism of Nato this after Labour leader Keir Starmer told MPs it’s unacceptable. The motion also called for support for protests by the Stop the War Coalition and accused the West of hypocrisy, citing its record of wars and invasions.
 
Introducing the motion, Paul Garraway said the CWU’s statement in solidarity with Ukraine, “goes on to rightly condemn Vladimir Putin and his lust for power. Unfortunately, the statement remained silent on the role played by Nato.”
 
He added, “Those world leaders who pushed Nato expansion—are they truly concerned with the welfare of the people of Ukraine? Biden gave the game away when he talked of regime change. When the US ships weapons to Ukraine, they’re not free. They come with a demand of ultimate loyalty. A victory for Ukraine is not living in the shadow of a hostile Russia surrounded by Nato troops.
 
“Boris Johnson—another world leader calling for Nato expansion. Does anyone believe he cares for the people of Ukraine? The hypocrisy of this man who pretends to care while simultaneously stopping refugees from coming here.”
 
Paul also said the union shouldn’t let its position on Ukraine be dictated by a Labour Party keen to show its support for Nato. “We should do what is right and not fear sir Keir,” he said. 
 
But the union’s leadership called on Paul’s branch to remit the motion, or for the conference to vote it down. It came after a series of moves that combined two contradictory motions.
 
An initially separate motion from the Eastern Regional Committee focussed on criticism of Russia and called for affiliation to the pro-war Ukraine Solidarity Campaign. The campaign calls effectively on the West to escalate the war by demanding it arms the Ukrainian government.
 
Conference organisers decided the motions should be combined. But on Tuesday morning the Eastern Regional Committee withdrew from the motion and its mover, Paul Moffatt, called for them to be taken separately. Conference organisers refused this. Paul Garraway said that, if passed, the union should take the criticism of Nato into the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign.
 
But the union’s national executive committee said it couldn’t support the motion due to its criticism of Nato. General secretary Dave Ward argued that it’s wrong to criticise Nato after Russia’s invasion. “There is no justification whatsoever in trying to equalise or apportion the blame for what’s happened,” he said. “Do not conflate geopolitics with the reality of what is happening today.”
 
Almost every speaker from the floor said criticising Nato meant supporting Putin and Russia’s invasion. Midlands Divisional Representative Paul Kennedy said criticising Nato was “designed to give Putin a pass.”
 
Maria Exall from the Greater London Combined branch criticised the Stop the War Coalition for also criticising Nato, “The people of the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign are very disappointed with the actions of Stop the War. They do believe they are giving Putin a free pass.”
 
But as Paul replied, “Putin is a war criminal—he’s a gangster. But I also believe that Nato has a role in it and I’ve got to get up here and say it. I can’t just hide from it and pretend it doesn’t exist.”
 
Nick Clark
 
 

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