The BBC's Andrew Neil smears Stop the War, while the Guardian pours abuse
Stop the War Coalition responds to a series of venomous and abusive attacks and downright lies in the media.
Andrew Neil smears Stop the War
The difficulties the British government is having in securing support for a new war in Syria – difficulties attributable in large part to the success of Stop the War’s campaigning down the years – have got the establishment rattled.
The last few days have seen a series of venomous or abusive attacks on Stop the War in The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and the BBC. The worst of these, in the sense of being the most mendacious, was on Andrew Neil’s BBC Daily Politics show.
Neil used the organised disruption of Stop the War’s otherwise successful meeting in parliament on November 2, which brought together MPs from nearly all parties in opposition to bombing Syria, as a pretext to smear StWC. In particular, he retailed three lies:
Lie One: Neil claimed StWC Chair Andrew Murray had called for support for the Assad government to fight ISIS. This is not, and never has been, either his or StWC’s position on the Syrian conflict. As he said at the meeting, ISIS can only be defeated by strong and credible governments in Syria and Iraq, and not by western bombing. Tory MP Crispin Blunt made much the same point at the meeting. Clearly that is an entirely different proposition to supporting the Assad regime.
Lie Two: The premise of the whole package was that Syrians opposed to Assad and supporting military intervention were prevented from speaking at the meeting. They were not. Indeed, Mr Neil’s interviewee was given ample time at the meeting to make her case.
Lie Three: Neil alleged that Police were called to the meeting to control protesters. They were not. Despite considerable provocation, meeting chair Diane Abbot MP brought the proceedings to an orderly close without the assistance of the constabulary.
This campaign of misinformation brings together diehard opponents of the left like Neil with those elements on the left who still itch after “humanitarian intervention”, like those who disrupted the meeting. Such interventions have brought nothing but disaster to the Middle East and now have limited and shrinking support among the British people. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader means the warmakers have no prospect of enjoying the bipartisan parliamentary support which blessed the calamitous and lawless Iraq invasion of 2003.
The humanitarian disaster in Syria, fuelled by external intervention from a range of powers, can only be resolved by a political settlement opening the way to peace and the Syrian people determining their own future. This truth now has broad support across the political spectrum, and will continue to be upheld by Stop the War. The lies of our opponents testify only to their desperation.
Stop the War responds to the Guardian's Rafael Behr
On 4 November 2015, Rafael Behr, Guardian political columnist, wrote disparagingly about Stop the War, to which Andrew Murray, chair of Stop the War replied with this letter to the Guardian editor:
Rafael Behr accuses the Stop the War Coalition of having a doctrinaire rejection of western intervention in the Middle East. He is correct – our doctrine has been fully vindicated by the consequences of such interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. We extend such opposition to the interference by all powers, east or west, in the Syrian conflict. That it will not resolve any problems is confirmed by ample, and bloody, experience.
Behr’s own doctrine appears to favour more such interventions. Such an argument corresponds to Einstein’s definition of insanity, but it offers nothing beyond more war to those hoping for an urgent end to the civil conflict in Syria.
Stop the War is also taken to task for our view that Tony Blair is a “war criminal”. Let the matter be tested at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
Behr finds these views lacking in coherence. In fact they are consistent and easily understood, which is why they informed the biggest political demonstrations in Britain’s history.
Chair, Stop the War Coalition
What Stop the War says about SyriaFor anyone who wants to know what Stop the War thinks about the situation in Syria, these two briefings have been published recently which make it transparently clear.