Anti-War Opinion Is Now Dominant in the Labour Party – Let’s Make It Official
Only by having a sizeable base of anti-war constituencies can we ensure that anti-war politics remains central to Labour Party policy
News that Streatham CLP (Constituency Labour Party), former stomping ground of flip-flopping Liberal Democrat Chuka Umunna, has affiliated to Stop the War Coalition signals an ever-growing shift in the grassroots direction of the Labour Party on issues of war and peace.
Having democratised the local party by switching to an all-member meeting format in January, the people of Streatham have taken an overwhelming decision to ‘turnaround from [the] old war-supporting regime’ and embrace the leadership of veteran anti-war campaigner Jeremy Corbyn by supporting the work of Stop the War.
Whilst a Labour MP, Umunna consistently voted for war and intervention, as well as the replacement of Trident. Despite the dubious claim that he ‘strongly opposed’ the Iraq war prior to becoming an MP he also voted against ‘an investigation into the contrast between public statements and private actions in the run up to the Iraq war’. No surprises there.
In the last meaningful parliamentary vote on military intervention, when the decision was taken to bomb Syria in November 2015, Umunna was one of the most prominent cheerleaders for a bombing campaign on the already war-torn country. But as he joins his third political party of the year the democratic winds of change have blown over Streatham and a firm commitment to the anti-war movement has followed.
In an email sent out to local members encouraging them to join the Don’t Attack Iran protest outside 10 Downing Street the constituency executive issued the following statement:
“At a time when America is once again manoeuvring towards war in the Middle East, we need, once again, to give full support to the anti-war movement to demand the UK not join the US’s recklessness. Jeremy Corbyn has been consistently right when urging caution in the past and we should listen now as he expresses doubt about the latest piece of dubious intelligence, in respect of Iran. Streatham Labour Party is proud to support him in opposing the move to war, opposes any future military action by the UK government and argues the UK must break with its special relationship with America to develop an independent foreign policy based on co-operation and diplomacy.
Stop the War has been an essential voice in opposing the permanent state of war the UK has created, along with its allies, in the Middle East. We are proud to offer Stop the War our support, and to use the platform of the local Labour Party to promote Stop the War.”
The timing of this move is significant for a whole host of reasons, none more so than the current US drive to war with Iran. The hawkish records of both Tory leadership hopefuls, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, suggest they would support military action on Iran when push comes to shove. In such a dangerous and volatile situation, the voice of reason and de-escalation is once again the voice of former StWC Chair, Jeremy Corbyn.
This is also true of the bombing of Yemen. Corbyn used yesterday’s PMQ’s to accost the poltergeist Prime Minister over her desire to continue selling arms to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in spite of a Court of Appeal judgement against such dirty deals last week.
In the face of immense pressure from establishment figures inside and outside of the Labour Party, Corbyn has stayed true to his anti-war principles as leader. This commitment has been reflected in the grassroots transformation of the party over the past three-and-a-half years with CLP’s across the country affiliating to Stop the War, a huge show of solidarity with the Palestinian people at last year’s conference and regular sightings of CLP banners on anti-war and pro-Palestine demonstrations.
But now is the time for CLP’s across the country to make their support for the anti-war movement official. Only by having a sizeable, organised base of anti-war constituencies can we ensure that anti-war politics remain an immovable flagpole in the future of the Labour Party.
If and when a vote to join a war on Iran is taken in parliament, we cannot afford a repeat of the scenes of 2015 when 66 Labour MP’s voted with David Cameron to support intervention. One crucial step to ensuring that does not happen is to affiliate your CLP to Stop the War and tie your local party and member of parliament to the politics of peace.
Labour members, why not follow Streatham’s example by raising our Don’t Attack Iran resolution at your next CLP meeting?