The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Sunday, September 21, 2003
Whatever happened to the UK anti-war movement?
Back in the prehistory that is the back-end of last year, I was doing my best, as the expression goes, to dampen expectations of the likely effectiveness of street protest against the war. On October 29 2002 , point out the lack of seriousness inherent in the Stop the War Coalition's loud call that
...we are backing Tony Benn's call for civil disobedience.
(I was equally sceptical about suggestions that the march to war could be stopped by the weight of a silent majority (January 27).)
The numbers mobilised onto the streets came as something of a surprise, I confess: a million in London alone on February 15 (Observer February 16). But Blair made it clear he was taking not a blind bit of notice!
Both the demos and the polls had zero traction (or close to it) on the course of the pre-war.
Now, we have the Hutton Inquiry, and, for all that quagmire talk is vastly premature, USG is hurting sufficiently in Iraq for it to think worth while enduring the humiliation of going cap in hand to that dive of cheese-eaters, the UN Security Council. Jacques, the Chief Weasel, naturally has his middle digit locked in the upright position .
We are long due a recrudescence in street activism to attempt to exploit these little local difficulties. But, according to a piece in the Observer today, the groupuscules of the movement are becoming ever more groupuscular. For example,
...a coup at CND with Carol Naughton, the longstanding chair defeated by one vote by Kate Hudson at the annual general meeting, amidst dark talk of tactical infiltration by the leftist group Socialist Action together who, with elements of the Socialist Workers Party, have effectively taken over.
(The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is one of the oldest organisations in the movement - the famous Aldermaston Marches of the early 60s were theirs. One might have hoped they'd have been wise to such tactics.)
The Stop the War Coalition is apparently equally fissiparous: even a long-time lefty like Bruce Kent (ex-Catholic priest, ex-CND chairman)
is furious about the happenings at CND and refusing to share anti war platforms with SWC people.
An SWC demo is planned, it seems, for next weekend (just before the Labour Party Conference). The Observer piece warns darkly that
In media terms anything less that the millions who turned out in February is going to be viewed as failure.
Good luck with that!
But even if a million do show up, the same lack of traction will enable Blair to ignore them. Only Hutton is in a position right now to do Blair any serious damage. And, while it's a possibility, no one should be holding their breath that it's going to happen.
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