THE HUGE parliamentary revolt last week against Blair’s war plans was all the more remarkable given that the Tory party officially lined up behind Blair and the payroll vote of Labour ministers and parliamentary secretaries – Blair’s Human Shield – were obliged to vote for the government’s motion.
No to war in Iraq.
Mass action needed to stop war
While there has been a lot of media hot air about the re-establishment of Parliament’s true ’democratic’ role after the revolt, the reason the political earth moved last week was because the people in their millions had moved in the weeks and months preceding this parliamentary showpiece.
Given the previous timid nature of the majority of Labour’s backbench MPs, the revolt was a huge earthquake on the political Richter scale, which has left Blair seriously wounded.
But Blair has said he will carry on towards war as a matter of ’conscience’, ignoring the millions marching and hundreds of MPs rebelling. Blair’s current course now represents a high-risk strategy for the government. Even if he and his supporters were to win another parliamentary vote, especially if it is without a second UN resolution, then the revolt could again be as high or higher than last week’s vote.
If Blair clearly does not command support of his MPs and significant sections of Parliament upon starting a war, then his current wounds could become fatally gangrenous.
There is an urgent need to intensify the pressure through the anti-war and union movement. In particular, the call for effective industrial action, as part of a campaign of mass civil disobedience, can further escalate the crisis engulfing New Labour.
IN THE face of Blair’s arrogance and blatant disregard of the anti-war views of the majority of people in this country, the Stop the War Coalition is organising a People’s Assembly against war, which will convene on 12 March.
The aim is for the Assembly to be a proper People’s Parliament, with delegates drawn from the vast anti-war majority the length and breadth of Britain. All initiatives to pull together the million-plus who marched should be built for – especially the proposal to use the Assembly to call for mass action to stop the war, including industrial action.
This call would not cut across but would strengthen the moves that are needed inside the trade unions and workplaces to organise for industrial action – as is being done in the CWU. (See below)
The London RMT is sending 40 delegates to the assembly. Union leader Bob Crow is urging others to follow the RMT lead: "If the government won’t stop this war, the people will have to work out how we can stop this war ourselves".
’Stop work to stop the war’ is now a crucial slogan for taking the anti-war movement forward. Workers should be preparing now, from below in the workplaces for action on Day X – the day that war is declared. (See also page 5)
New Workers’ Party
The idea of a People’s Assembly as "an alternative democratic institution to the government" should not be used to evade the central need to build a permanent political alternative to New Labour – a new workers’ party.
The People’s Assemblies and other forums should be used to discuss what steps are needed to build a new political alternative.
If just 10% of the million plus who marched on 15 February supported the establishment of a new party, this would give the new organisation 100,000 or so members and the potential to have a major impact on the situation unfolding in Britain.
The Assembly needs to call for decisive action now, including the widest possible mass civil disobedience, especially workplace action.
The call for a European-wide 24-hour general strike on 21 March, proposed by several European trade unions, must also be taken up.
From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, the CWI in England and Wales.