From across Britain, delegations from trade unions, mosques, anti-war groups, colleges and all walks of life will heading to Westminster Central Hall on 20 March – the fourth anniversary of George Bush and Tony Blair’s disastrous attack on Iraq.
They will gather at the People’s Assembly, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, in their hundreds to hold the debate New Labour fears.
In January parliament debated Iraq for the first time in two years. Tony Blair did not even attend the debate. At its close New Labour ensured there was not even a vote.
Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price, who will be speaking at the Assembly, is secretary of the newly formed Stop the War parliamentary group of MPs.
He argues, ‘Parliament is out of step with popular opinion on the war,’ and stresses that ‘the extra parliamentary movement is to the forefront’.
Nevertheless, he reports that ‘echoes are heard in the House of Commons and we have seen movement over the last few months, even though it is at a glacial pace.
‘Though we should always be prepared to be disappointed, even parliament has had to reflect what is happening outside.
‘Added pressure can make MPs think twice about continuing down this road, especially now that an attack on Iran is on the horizon.
‘It’s vital that the People’s Assembly reminds elected representatives who it was that sent them to parliament and who they represent.’
Sian Ruddick is organising a delegation from Swansea University’s Stop the War group. She says, ‘We need to hear the arguments. It is important students hear a higher level of debate.’
Some 60 Swansea University students travelled to the anti-war demonstration in London a fortnight ago.
Sian says she is shocked by the ‘cowardice of those Labour MPs who blocked the recent debate on the war in Iraq’. She adds that many students are looking forward to the chance to have their say on 20 March.
The convenor of Waltham Forest Stop the War Coalition, Rob Ferguson, says he anticipates ‘a really good response’ to the People’s Assembly from across the north east London borough.
In particular he reports that members of the local Muslim community are ‘very positive about an initiative which can bring Muslim and non-Muslim together’.
He adds that Stop the War activists in the area are keen to build ‘a movement against the war and against the victimisation of the Muslim community’.
The Stop the War Coalition is asking community, workplace and other groups to elect delegates to attend the People’s Assembly. This will make it as representative as possible of the majority of opinion in Britain – the anti-war opinion that Blair has ridden rough shod over.
Delegations are being encouraged to hold reportback meetings and to inspire the formation of new workplace, college and local anti-war groups.
The People’s Assembly takes place on Tuesday 20 March, 2pm-8pm, Central Hall, Westminster, London SW1. To register, or for more information, call 020 7278 6694 or email [email protected]
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