Archive article from The Socialist Issue 451
No to war and occupation
No to terrorism
No to racism
Defend democratic rights
Demonstrate at Labour Party conference
Saturday 23 September 2006, 1pm
Demonstration called by Stop the War Coalition & CND
[Editor's note: The following is the text of the first Socialist Party leaflet for the Manchester anti-war demonstration on the 23 September]
New Labour ‘values’
Along with George Bush, Tony Blair refused to demand an end to the Israeli regime’s brutal shelling of Lebanon. Over 1,000 Lebanese people died, a third of them children. Many thousands have had their homes destroyed and hundreds of thousands are suffering from ruined public facilities, roads and bridges. Over 150 Israeli Jews and Palestinians also lost their lives.
Blair has strongly supported the US government’s Iraq war and occupation too, saying the purpose has been to fight repressive regimes and counter terrorism. Yet as well as the daily bloodshed still suffered by the Iraqi people, the risk of terrorism in Britain has increased as a result of the provision in Iraq of a focus and training ground for the likes of Al Qaida. And in the name of countering terrorism, Blair’s government has brought in repressive legislation, which erodes the right of British workers to organise and demonstrate.
Ordinary people in Britain oppose terrorism, and will be the first to suffer from any terrorist acts carried out here. But following the police killing of innocent Jean Charles de Menezes in Stockwell and the shooting of two innocent Muslim brothers in Forest Gate, there is little confidence in the government’s strategy.
And through alarmist newspaper articles and allowing huge misery for travellers at airports, the government is laying the basis for an increase in racism and prejudice – as occurred after the 7/7 bombings in London. Muslims have been worst affected, but every ethnic minority suffers the consequences.
Organise and protest!
The next response to Blair and New Labour, must be to build a massive demonstration in Manchester on 23 September, uniting working class people from all trade unions, workplaces and communities in Britain. We must protest against New Labour’s policy on war, occupation, terrorism and civil rights, but also against its outright anti-working class, pro-big business agenda, that includes the destruction of the NHS.
As well as urging you to join the demonstration, the Socialist Party appeals to you to join our socialist contingent on it. While building a movement that can get rid of Blair once and for all, we need at the same time to spread socialist ideas. War, poverty, insecurity and environmental destruction are permanent features of the capitalist system. Economists predict that the world economy will soon enter into a recession that will bring even greater problems to ordinary people in Britain and worldwide.
To prepare the way for a different future we have to fight for the end of capitalism and for the establishment of democratic socialist societies, run in the interests of the overwhelming majority of people and not for the profits of the billionaires.
No occupation of south Lebanon!
The Israeli government accepted an internationally-brokered ceasefire deal because it was suffering humiliation at the hands of the Shia resistance force Hezbollah. The fact that Israel, with its powerful military apparatus, failed in its aim of dealing a fatal blow to Hezbollah, will have major repercussions in the region. There is great discontent now in Israel with the government’s strategy. In the Arab countries and Iran, Hezbollah’s standing has increased, for fighting the Israeli onslaught.
The world capitalist powers – through their agent the United Nations – aim to replace Israeli troops in the south of Lebanon with an international force. However, this will bring no end-solution to the conflict and in the short-term could lay the basis for further bloodshed. If Israeli or other foreign troops remain in Lebanon with the purpose of countering Hezbollah, there will inevitably be violent clashes.
And Israeli army brutality continues against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, fuelling outrage in the Middle East and beyond. As long as capitalism exists in the region, there is the constant danger of major conflict resurging, and possibly spiralling into an even worse conflagration than we have just seen.
Unfortunately, the existing political organisations in the region do not have programmes that can prevent this. Hezbollah, while now having unprecedented support and admiration for its heroic resistance, cannot unite workers from all sections of Lebanese society in the long-term. Despite its present nationalist stance, it is at root an Islamist organisation. And Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamist party Hamas, are not anti-capitalist; yet opposition to capitalism is essential for the elaboration of a programme that can show a way out of the cycles of conflict and exploitation.
Only the building of a democratic workers’ party in Lebanon, uniting workers on a socialist programme across the religious and ethnic divides, can prepare the way forward for an alternative future, free of war and poverty.
Likewise in Israel and in the Palestinian territories, workers’ parties based on socialist ideas need to be built – in Israel to remove a warmongering regime that fundamentally acts in the interests of big business, and in the territories to build mass defence against brutal repression and to fight for a genuine Palestinian state alongside Israel.
End the occupation of Iraq
While attention was focused on Lebanon, the bloody toll of Bush and Blair’s war in Iraq continued. Much of the violence is now between Shia and Sunni Muslims as well as against the occupation. Rather than withdrawing some of its troops as it would like, Bush’s regime is relocating 10,000 to Baghdad, in a futile attempt to quell escalating violence there.
Opposition from American people to the occupation is growing. This was exposed recently by the de-selection of US Democratic senator Joseph Lieberman by his own party because of his strident support for the war. A Financial Times journalist said of the US: "Just about everyone now agrees that the sooner it finds a way to withdraw, the better for the US and for the Iraqis". But the US regime can’t find a ‘way to withdraw’ that will leave its prestige and potential oil profits intact. Meanwhile, the occupation massively worsens the tensions in Iraqi towns and cities.
The only solution to the bloodshed and destruction lies in the Iraqi working people building their own democratic, multi-ethnic defence forces to counter ethnic and religious clashes, and to kick out the occupying troops. Such a movement needs to be armed with a programme of uniting workers to act in their own interests, and not in those of the present aspiring-capitalist ‘leaders’, who can use continued conflict as a way of carving out personal spheres of power and privilege.
In The Socialist 10 August 2006:
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