Thursday, October 04, 2007

Break the ban: stop war on Iran

I assume you all know by now that Gordon Brown has banned our Stop the War march to Parliament on Monday 8th, using legislation from 1839 to ensure that MPs wouldn't be attacked by grubby oiks. Well, you also probably have heard that the Stop the War Coalition is defying the ban. The importance of this can't be stressed enough: Tony Benn has openly stated that he intends to march down to parliament regardless of what the police do; he will be accompanied by Galloway, Mark Thomas, Ben Griffin and of course thousands of us, with placards and banners a-plenty. And you have to be there. This is an exercise in mass civil disobedience that will, if Brown doesn't back down, create a serious crisis for him. He sent out signals when he took power that he would be different: that civil liberties would be under less attack; that the right to protest around parliament would be restored. Now he's trying to backtrack - and why? Because while the government has pulled way ahead of the Tories - and that's a good thing - New Labour remains weak on Iraq. It is the key issue in British politics today, and the issue on which the government is least popular, is the continued involvement in the 'war on terror'. And there happens to be an election coming up in November. Well, suppose I'm right, and that is the reasoning behind banning the protest - it's a massive fuck-up, and we need to make sure the government pays fully for it.

Brown is making very slow, half-hearted gestures toward withdrawal from southern Iraq. But he is also dedicated to escalating the increasingly ruthless war in Afghanistan. And, as we now know, he supports an attack on Iran. It won't be an all-out assault, if it happens: it will be a series of bombing raids, designed to humiliate and weaken the Iranian president by proving that he cannot defend his people and stop them from being killed. It will be, to put it another way, an elaborate punishment beating. Don't think this can't work: it can work. It has worked in the past. And we can't afford to underestimate the seriousness of this. If they get away with attacking Iran, they have already recouped some of the losses inflicted on them by the opposition in both Iraq and Afghanistan, who - we now have General Sir Richard Dannatt's word for it - are largely ordinary people defending themselves. We have to clobber the government on the war before it decides to expand it. And if they do decide to attack Iran, there won't be a build-up: it'll be a very sudden onslaught. So, we have to prepare our actions in advance. You could always pledge civil disobedience in the event of war. That's what we need to do: not a token one-off gesture, because that won't work, but a sustained campaign of interrupting the daily processes of life in this country if they decide to go on another murdering spree.

Make a note of the details: assemble at Trafalgar Square, Monday 8 October, 1pm. Throw a sickie at work, bunk off school, do what you have to do. And I'll see you there.