Many thanks to all members and supporters of Stop the War Coalition for their commitment and contribution in 2013 to our campaigns opposing the war policies of the UK government

Ian Chamberlain and Robin Beste

2013 has been a breakthrough year for the anti-war movement. In August, the combination of protest past and present came together to stop David Cameron taking Britain into yet another war, this time in Syria. This was an almost unprecedented defeat for the war-makers which had huge implications, stopping in its tracks for now an overt military intervention in Syria, which was intended to be a stepping stone to the ultimate long-term target for the US and its allies: Iran.

In 2013, Stop the War organised demonstrations, emergency protests, meetings, rallies, two international conferences, parliamentary briefings — on issues ranging from Syria to Afghanistan, from drone warfare to Bradley Manning and the whistleblowers, from the ‘blowback’ Woolwich killing to government plans to rewrite first world war history.

These were some of the highlights in a very eventful year.

9 February: Confronting War Ten Year On
An international conference in London of more than 1000 anti-war campaigners discussed the state of the “war on terror”, ten years after 15 February 2003, when the biggest worldwide protest in human history took place against the Iraq war. The conference discussed future strategy in opposing our government’s continuing addiction to war on the coat-tails of US foreign policy. Videos of speakers at the conference, including by Salma Yaqoob, Phyllis Bennis from the United States and Owen Jones »

Ground the Drones, RAF Waddinton, 27/04/13

27 April: Ground the Drones
In April, a new campaign titled Ground the Drones — led by Stop the War, CND, War on Want and the Drone Campaign Network — was founded to oppose the use of British drones in Afghanistan.

On 27 April, Ground the Drones organised the first National protest at RAF Waddington, the control centre for the UK control of drones. This Ground the Drones protest forced the government to admit it had secretly begun controlling drones from the RAF Waddington base.

22 May: Launch of No Glory in War campaign
UK prime minister David Cameron announced that his government was providing in the centenary year of the first world war, £55 million for “truly national commemorations”, which he compared to the Queen’s diamond jubilee “celebrations”.

In response, an open letter signed by Jude Law, Billy Bragg, the poet laureate Caron Ann Duffy, Brian Eno, Ken Loach, Alan Rickman, Vivienne Westwood, and many more, launched the No Glory campaign, which will aim to ensure that the “anniversary is used to promote peace and international co-operation, rather than nationalistic “celebrations”. On 22 May, author Michael Morpurgo, musician Brian Eno and actor Janie Dee formally launched the No Glory campaign with readings at the house of world war one poet Siegfried Sasson.

26 June: The Woolwich killing, “war on terror” and Islamophobia
After the horrific murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, Stop the War issued a statement to say that the War on Terror could not be ignored if we wanted to tackle domestic terrorism. Stop the War speakers made numerous media appearances challenging the Islamophobic backlash and stressing how the era of perpetual military interventions in Muslim countries must end if we are to stop “blowback” atrocities like the killing of Lee Rigby. On 26 June, Stop the War organised a public meeting, at which speakers, including former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, discussed rising Islamophobia and how to campaign against it.

July and September: Parliamentary briefings on Syria
During 2013, Stop the War supported a number of parliamentary briefings, that in particular made the case against overt military intervention in Syria. MPs speaking at the briefings included Peter Hain, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Sarah Wollaston.

9 August: War and whistleblowers – organising solidarity for Bradley Manning
The revelations which became known as the Iraq and Afghanistan logs were leaked to Wikileaks by US soldier Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning. This was of huge significance for humanity generally, as Manning’s courageous action lifted the lid on more than ten years of war crimes carried out secretly in our name.

But she has paid an enormous price with relentless persecution by the US government and has now been sentenced to 35 years in prison. Stop the War backed the RootsAction petition in support of Manning’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination. On 9 August, US activist Normon Soloman, on his way to the Nobel committee in Norway to deliver over 100,000 signatures, joined Stop the War at a packed meeting in London in solidarity with Manning. Video of speeches, including by Tariq Ali and Norman Solomon »

Tariq Ali speaking at Syria protest, 31/08/13 »

August: Emergency protests opposing Syria attack
Stop the War held five national protests, with many more organized by local Stop the War groups across the country. More than 1000 protested outside Downing Street the night before the parliamentary vote to say no to military intervention in Syria and thousands of Stop the War supporters lobbied their MPs, many of whom admitted they had not had such a response on any other issue.

In the wake of this, the leader of the opposition in parliament, Ed Milliband, announced that the Labour party would vote to block an immediate military strike against Syria.

29 August: Parliament votes on war against Syria
MPs voted against the government’s motion which called for military action in Syria, the first time since 1782 MPs had defeated a government’s call for support in a war. Only the Suez crisis in 1956 caused a similar breach in relations with the United States. Spurred on by the success of the government’s defeat, more than 5000 people marched on Parliament the following Saturday to keep up the pressure and send a clear message to Barack Obama, who had yet to announce whether the US would still attack Syria, despite the UK parliament vote.

14 September: Stop the War Annual National Conference
Among the motions passed at the 2013 Stop the War Annual Conference were future campaigning priorities on Afghanistan, Syria, drones, and the first world war centenary in 2014. The support from the TUC Congress for Stop the War’s campaign opposing an attack on Syria was a major breakthrough welcomed by the conference. The continuing support for Stop the War from trade unions, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Green Party, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, members of Parliament, and many other organisations, was gratefully acknowledged by the conference.

25 October: No Glory – The Concert with Billy Bragg and others
No Glory: The Concert was a cultural event of music and spoken word held at St James’s Church, London on the 25 October, with contributions from Billy Bragg, Kika Markham, Elvis McGonagall, and many more. You can view the concert in full on the No Glory YouTube channel. Published to coincide with the concert was a No Glory booklet by historian Neil Faulkner, titled No Glory: the real history of World War I »

26 November: Jeremy Corbyn MP wins Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award
Jeremy Corbyn MP, national chair of Stop the War Coalition, was given the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award in recognition of his consistent efforts over a 30-year Parliamentary career upholding the Gandhian values of social justice and non-violence.

30 November: International Anti-War Conference
Campaigners from India, Ghana, Ireland, the US, France, Canada, Bahrain and Belgium gathered to discuss Syria, the Scramble for Africa, British imperialism, and many other topics. Speakers included Jeremy Scahill from the United States, Owen Jones and Diane Abbott MP. Videos of conference speeches are available here »

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26 Dec 2013

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