By Editorial
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 291

Every Second Counts

This article is over 17 years, 1 months old
There are three dates for your new year's diary. Mark them clearly, because what we do over the next six months could change the world for years to come.
Issue 291

The first is 19 March, which the European Social Forum named as the day when the anti-war movement has to mobilise internationally in a massive show of force against the Iraq war. The challenge is a huge one. Bush, emboldened by his election victory, is determined to try and crush the opposition in Iraq by any means necessary. The disclosure that napalm – illegal under international law since 1980 – was used in Fallujah is a reminder of the horrific lengths he will go to. Tony Blair has decided to back him all the way, despite increasing opposition in the Labour Party and the wider electorate.

The anniversary of last year’s 15 February demonstration – when millions took to the streets – will be a day of disobedience for activists to mount strikes, protests, vigils and occupations. This should lay the foundation for an inspiring mobilisation on 19 March calling for the withdrawal of the troops.

Following shortly after this is the likelihood of a general election in Britain on 5 May. While the key to stopping the war is the agitation that takes place on the streets, in the workplaces and colleges, the election presents an opportunity to give a resounding thumbs down to the neoliberal and pro-war agenda being pursued by New Labour. Blair has already decided to run on a similar right wing platform to that of his pro-war buddies, Bush and the Australian prime minister John Howard.

Unfortunately for Blair, he heads a social democratic, left of centre party where the overwhelming majority of supporters and activists are opposed to his policies. Hence the possibility that many Labour Party members will refuse to campaign for Labour and many working class people will not vote for them. Never has there been a greater opportunity for a left wing alternative to make a breakthrough. The key to this will be targeting those constituencies where the pro-war MPs are most vulnerable. The Respect Coalition, formed at the start of this year, has already achieved modest electoral gains and a national profile. It is now well placed to make an impact in the forthcoming election if we are able to convince those opposed to the war of the necessity to build a political alternative.

Finally, in early July the G8 world leaders come to Britain where they will be holed up in Gleneagles, an isolated part of Scotland. Whatever warm words they use about tackling global warming, their agenda is to ignore the wishes of the thousands who will march against them and continue with their attacks on the world’s poor.

With such a busy few months ahead of us we don’t have a second to lose. There is an urgent need to get in touch with all of those who have taken part in previous protests and involve them again, as well as reaching out to those who initially supported the war but now feel betrayed. This means invigorating the networks, setting up public meetings, organising local protests and pickets, contacting others groups and organisations who can be pulled into activity.

Combined with this we need to raise the political level of the movement. As the support for New Labour slips there will be all sorts of political forces trying to make gains. Our task is to ensure that the movement against war is linked with a strategy to change the world that breeds war in the first place. If we are able to build a vibrant, energetic and powerful movement with such a vision we will be in a commanding position. The stakes are high; the outcome is vital. So let’s roll.

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