By New Worker correspondent
SEVERAL thousand peace activists marched through London last Saturday to demand an end to British, American and French threats of military action against Syria.
|In Trafalgar Square|
But this march was different to thousands of other peace matches that have trod the streets of London for the last 60 years – it was a march with the victory of a war at least postponed if not completely prevented to celebrate.
And the morale of the marchers was high because of it, because of the vote in Parliament last Thursday 29th August when a majority MPs voted against the principle that Britain should join an American military strike against Syria – leaving prime Minister Cameron red-faced, angry and defeated.
Thirty members of his own party had opposed the motion and another 30 had abstained.
Labour MPs had all supported Ed Miliband’s stance that no war could be endorsed until there was solid proof that the Syrian government was behind the recent nerve gas attack on civilians in Damascus.
But that vote had an international impact; Barak Obama, feeling suddenly politically isolated, announced that he would not take any action until Congress had been allowed to vote on the matter – a process that could take a long time.
The French government has also been obliged to consult its legislature. And since enthusiasm for another war in the Middle East is extremely low in both those countries it is quite possible the war may have been prevented. The peace movements in France and America are strong and encouraged by the vote in Westminster.
Evidence is now emerging from the Associated Press news agency that the nerve gas may have been released accidentally by opposition rebels in Damascus – the very people who are being armed and funded by the US, Britain and Saudi Arabia – who were supplied with tubular gas bottles that they had never seen before from the Saudis and accidently activated them while examining them, killing many of their own colleagues.
Speaker after speaker in Trafalgar Square, at the end of last Saturday’s Hands Off Syria march, stressed the historic significance of last Thursday’s parliamentary vote – and of Stop the War’s role in bringing it about.
|And outside the American Embassy|
The speakers included Stop The War Chair Jeremy Corbyn MP, Lindsey German, Andrew Murray, Natalie Bennett (Green Party), Alex Kenny (NUT), Tariq Ali, a speaker from London Gezi Solidarity, Tony Benn, Aaron Kiely (NUS), Simon Renton (UCU), Martin Howell (anti-war poet), and Craig Murray.
Lindsey German said: “This time, enough MPs had the guts to vote against another intervention. Their arguments and information were influenced by a strong public opinion against such a war, itself a product of a mass movement which didn’t stop a war 10 years ago but has prevented a further one now.
“To all our regret we didn’t stop the war on Iraq, but that tide of anti-war opinion has made itself felt again in the past few days.
“For once, MPs reflected that majority public opinion in the country and Cameron has been forced to admit that he will no longer join any such attack and that Britain will play no part in any Syrian intervention.
“The vote was a defeat not just for the British government but the whole system of western imperialism that has relied on the US/British alliance, symbolised most grotesquely in the Blair-Bush partnership that was determined to invade both Afghanistan and Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11.”
Andrew Murray told the crowd that Parliament has not voted down a war in over 200 years.
But the consensus of all the speakers was the message that all the peace marches, meetings and campaigning have been worthwhile – a war has been prevented.
“Let no one tell you campaigning is a waste of time.”