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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

The war goes on and on…

by Theo Russell

AROUND 60 people attended a meeting at Hamilton House in central London last week organised by the Stop the War Coalition (StW) that included contributions from a number of trade union and peace activists, as well as a video message from Yurii Sheliazhenko of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement.

Sheliazhenko condemned NATO for sending “wave upon wave of weapons” whilst “the war goes on and on”.

“While Zelensky makes no moves towards a resolution,” he said, “Ukraine and Russia urgently need peace talks, and western governments must create the conditions for talks.” The Ukrainian pacifist spoke of “an army of well-paid liars and smears against the peace movement.” But he was upbeat about the peace plan proposed by billionaire businessman Elon Musk, which includes a fresh vote on the future of the regions that recently joined the Russian Federation, Crimea to remain in Russia, and guarantees of Ukrainian neutrality.

Jamie Newell from the firefighters’ union, the FBU, commented that the British government “has a real cheek criticising Russia’s response to recent street protests, when they do exactly the same thing here”.

Speaking for StW, Lindsay German condemned the demonisation of anyone in Britain calling for peace talks such as the suspension of Angelo Sanchez after attacking British policy at the recent Labour Party conference. She also referred to comments by BBC correspondent Jeremy Bowen – who has been reporting from Ukraine – about the Western coalition’s targeting of civilian infrastructure in Iraq and the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of Yemen (with armaments supplied by, amongst others, Britain).

Lindsay said Labour Party members had been told not to support StW’s position on Ukraine, and former MP Emma Dent Coad, a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, had been blocked as a future parliamentary candidate for Kensington & Chelsea where she was Labour MP from 2017–19, amongst other reasons for speaking at StW protests.

“It’s a real denial of democracy in Britain where if you raise any criticism of what our government is doing in Ukraine or call for peace you’re regarded as an appeaser of Putin,” she said.

“Meanwhile the British government has supported people going to fight in Ukraine, while none of the parties in parliament are speaking out against the war. This isn’t just about Russia invading Ukraine, every time we send weapons to Ukraine it’s at the expense of our schools, our hospitals and our housing. There’s a clear connection between the expansion of militarism and austerity at home.

“So far Britain has given £2.5 billion to Ukraine, and even neutral Ireland has sent non-military aid, so this is essentially a proxy war between Russia and NATO. This isn’t going to stop with Ukraine, we know about the AUKUS Pact and the situation around China, and we are seeing much greater moves towards confrontation and war.”

Speaking from the floor, a Unite member called for a new Labour Party that was “democratic, anti-war and pro-peace”, and said: “The British government should stop sending weapons to Ukraine because they are fascist, absolutely fascist, and they are brutally oppressing their own people.”

Members of International Ukraine Anti-Fascist Solidarity distributed leaflets, spoke to members of the panel and the audience, and one was lucky enough to speak from the floor. Unfortunately, many of the speakers said almost nothing about Ukraine, and over two-thirds of the panel contributions and the following discussion focused only on peace and trade union campaigns in Britain.