A vote for peace

BRITISH imperialism’s drive to war was stopped in its tracks by Parliament last week. David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat allies wanted to join in the planned American onslaught against Syria. Labour, backed by the Green Party, the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, Respect and a number of northern Irish parties said no. And so did a number of Tory and Liberal Democrat rebels who voted with the opposition or sat on their hands when the vote was taken.

There is no doubt that many MPs on both sides of the House of Commons were swayed by the consistent and determined efforts of the peace movement which were reflected in the opinion polls that showed that an overwhelming majority of the public were opposed to any military action against Syria. As Lindsay German of the Stop the War Coalition said: “The anti-war movement and wider anti-war opinion has scored a great victory...British MPs’ arguments and information were influenced by a strong public opinion against war, itself a product of a mass movement which didn’t stop a war 10 years ago but has prevented a further one now.”

That’s certainly true for Ed Miliband, whose opposition to the Prime Minister’s motion hardened on the day of vote as demands for a clear-cut Labour stand grew from his back-benchers and some members of his Shadow Cabinet. It’s partially true for the 30 Tories and nine Liberal Democrats who broke ranks to vote down the war motion and for the 45 other Coalition MPs who abstained.

But it is equally clear that the Tory rebels, largely drawn from the Eurosceptic ranks of the Conservative Party, were also reflecting growing doubts amongst the ruling class as a whole about the wisdom of once again doing America’s dirty work, given that they got nothing out of the two wars against Iraq, Afghanistan or the attack on Libya in 2011.

Though Cameron was forced to accept that Britain will now play no military part in any Syrian intervention some rats are still calling for a new vote on the grounds that prospective US Congressional endorsement for an American attack needs to be reviewed.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, who dreams of replacing Cameron as Tory leader, has joined the ranks of the rabid Atlanticists like Tony Blair who are still bleating about the “special relationship” with the US imperialists that they have served without question over the years. But Cameron knows he dare not risk a re-run, which if lost would certainly lead to his resignation, and he has ruled it out completely.

The Americans are still determined to intervene to topple the Syrian government because the rebellion they funded and armed is petering out. Russia and China are leading the struggle to stop the war on the diplomatic front with the support of most of the Third Word. And without British support and with no mandate under international law or the United Nations all the Americans can now count on is brute force, France and Turkey, their Israeli pawns and the feudal Arab oil princes.

The vote and the mass opposition from the anti-war movement in Britain have fired the peace movements in America, France and Turkey. Mass pressure must continue in solidarity with all those struggling in the days to come to avoid more senseless slaughter in the Middle East.

Some say the protests achieve nothing. Others claim that Labour is no better than the Tories. Last week’s vote has proved them wrong. Though the small parties in Parliament took the principled stand it would have meaningless without Labour’s vote and that vote was due to the mass pressure from the anti-war movement, the unions, the left and the communist movement that the New Communist Party is part of, that ensured that this time there was not going to be any mealy-mouthed equivocation that could open the door to British participation in another war against the Arabs.