Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/274/24517
Protest on 31 October: Stop Bush And Blair's War Plans
George W. Bush has been forced to sound a more cautious note over war with Iraq in an attempt to win over the doubters in the United Nations and because of overwhelming opposition internationally.
Responding to public anger, France and Russia in particular have dragged their heels over the precise formulation of the UN resolution.
However they would be unable to resist a deal sweetened by access to the Iraqi oil fields which represent 11% of world supply, particularly as continued opposition to Bush's war plans would leave them out in the cold. Russia has $8 billion tied up in Iraq and France is keen to develop trade and win reconstruction contracts.
Despite his caution, Bush's intent is still clear. More US troops are going to the Gulf: 1,400 on a special forces exercise in Jordan, Central command staff to Qatar and HQ personnel and a Marine expeditionary force to Kuwait on exercises. Bush's poodle Blair has ordered the modification of tanks for desert warfare and is preparing to call up reservists.
At the same time the opposition amongst ordinary people continues to grow, as shown by the 400,000-strong demo in Britain, demos in Australia and the US itself.
The bombing of the nightclub in Bali has made people more apprehensive about the consequences of a terrorist backlash following an invasion of Iraq. It also undermines the contention that regime-change in Iraq is a necessary part of the war against terrorism; opposition to the war has grown since the bombing.
The protest on 31 October called by the Stop the War Coalition, which the Socialist Party is an active member of, is another important step in building the anti-war movement in Britain. The scale of the demonstrations worldwide have made Bush and Blair pause in their preparation for war and may still possibly stop them.
However if a war starts it won't just be a case of getting signatures on a petition, or of mobilising for marches.
An active campaign of civil disobedience has to be built and organised which has roots in the workplaces, the communities and the schools and colleges. That is why the proposals put by the Socialist Party of getting pledge sheets and cards filled in are so important.
The anti-war movement must link up with workers' struggles against privatisation and low pay. 31 October is a test run, a preparation for this.
It is vital that we raise the ideas of socialism and the need for a new workers' party within this movement.
A mass party based on socialist policies and committed to fighting for working-class people would not only provide the link between all these struggles but also a real alternative to New Labour's big business policies and its slavish support for US imperialism.
31 October protests:
Walk-out and demonstration - called by Brunel Socialist Students: 'Students against the War'.
Walthamstow college - midday, walk-out and demonstration. 6pm protest - Town Square, Walthamstow.
Lewisham - midday rally of council workers at Town Hall, Catford. Goldsmiths students plan a protest in the afternoon.
5.30 pm, Parliament Sq, march to 10 Downing St to hand in petitions (called by Stop the War Coalition).
4pm rally in city centre, 5pm road blockade.
1pm protest outside Arts block, Manchester University (called by Anti-War Society) 6pm demo, Manchester Metropolitan University
Lunchtime rally, Market Square
Midday protest - Liverpool Community College and Southport college Street blockade - 6pm, Lime St, city centre.
Public meeting: How to take the anti-war movement forward. 7.30pm, Neptune Room, Blue Coat Chamber, School Lane, Liverpool.
In The Socialist 25 October 2002: