Stop the War

SSP leads anti-war campaign in Scotland.

The Scottish Socialist Party has played a leading role in the campaign against the war. It has been one of the main organisers of the Coalition for Justice not War which organised a magnificent demonstration of 4-5000 in Glasgow on Saturday 13th October. It has also released a new pamphlet - Stop the War, available from your local SSP branch or Scottish Socialist Voice seller.


Since the August National Council agreed a Campaigning Priorities paper to take the party up to the SSP Conference in March 2002, the party has had to respond to the tragic events of 11 September in the USA. This paper sums up the position that the party has arrived at, after discussions in branches, members' meetings across the country and the Executive, and simply seeks to acknowledge that campaigning priorities have also had to take on board the new political situation.

The mass murder of over 6 thousand people, which occurred in the USA on 11 September as a result of the suicide hijackings, was an unjustifiable act of terrorism. No matter that the terrorists' thought that they were targeting the symbols of US economic and military power, it was innocent men, women and children that died. The SSP shares the feelings of horror and sadness experienced by millions of people across the world.

We also recognise that hundreds of thousands of men, women and children across the planet have in recent years been killed as a direct and indirect result of US attacks, bombings and sanctions. We reject the hypocrisy of Bush and Blair who can publicly mourn the deaths in the USA whilst attempting to justify the mass killings inflicted by the USA in Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The SSP has always opposed the brutal and repressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Bush and Blair do not consistently oppose such regimes. At the moment the US-led coalition includes a wide range of vicious dictatorships, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Syria and Kuwait. It is only recently that Bush and Blair have decided that Osama bin Laden is an enemy - they conveniently avoid explaining why the US Government armed and trained his movement in the first place!

Bush and Blair would prefer that everyone just saw a simplistic battle of good against evil, as they want to avoid their global policies coming under critical analysis. There is no shortage of people with a legitimate grievance against the imperialist policies of the US government and US-based multi national corporations. Over the past decade, US imperialism has increasingly seen itself as the 'world policeman' to protect US economic interests in particular and capitalist globalisation in general. Millions of ordinary people starve and suffer on a daily basis as a result of the global economic policies promoted by the USA via the World Bank and other financial institutions. Millions also suffer from the sanctions imposed on Iraq and through the US-backed repression of the Palestinian people. In Iraq, according to the Food & Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, more than 5,000 children die every month as a result of US and British sanctions.

However, the imperialist powers will not respond to 11 September with a drive for greater justice and equality. Bush and Blair have declared Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect (without publishing any evidence) and have clearly indicated that they are not interested in justice but vengeance. Bush and Blair plan to respond by unleashing even more mass destruction and death on some of the poorest people of the world. They will use their self-declared 'war on terrorism' to attempt to justify even more violence and repression.

A number of features are already clear in the post 11 September situation:

* In the short term, the US government (with the British Government as usual acting as junior partner/cheerleader) is preparing for war in Afghanistan.

* In the longer term, Bush plans to use the opportunity of a wider 'war on terrorism' to provide 'legitimacy' for the US acting as 'world policeman' for global capital.

* The US economy, prior to 11 September, was already teetering on the verge of recession. The chances of a US economic recession, dragging the world economy with it, are now considerably higher. Already one hundred thousand jobs have been axed in the airline industry.

* Racist remarks by Bush and Blair about defending the 'civilised world' are not only used to justify war abroad but will result in an increase in racism and racist attacks at home.

* The US and British Governments will consider introducing further draconian assaults on civil liberties and asylum rights under the guise of counter terrorism measures. The Westminster Government has not ruled out the eventual introduction of ID cards.

* To an extent, normal party politics amongst the establishment parties has been temporarily suspended as they pull together for the 'war'. The SNP conference did not discuss controversial topics such as NATO. The TUC Congress was suspended and the trade union leadership have toned down expressions of the growing trade union opposition to the Government's privatisation drive.

* Already an inernational anti-war movement is in formation. In Scotland, hundreds of people attended hastily organised meetings and vigils, with 1,000 people attending a rally in Glasgow. The anti-war movement is growing and this should be reflected during coordinated international peace actions, including a demo in George Square, Glasgow, on 13 October.

The SSP can be proud that it has quickly responded to the 11 September atrocities in such a clear and principled manner. We have also played a positive role in supporting the creation of a broad Scottish Coalition for Justice not War. We should now:

* Continue to build the activities of the Scottish Coalition for Justice not War, affiliate to the Coalition and encourage trade unions and other organisations to affiliate to it.

* Continue to bring out party materials and organise public SSP meetings explaining the dangerous and destructive role of global capitalism and imperialism and to argue the case for socialism

* Take steps as a party and alongside other anti-racist campaigns and campaigners to counter the racist ideas of Bush, Blair and other western leaders and their hypocrisy over attacking Afghanistan whilst refusing asylum seekers from that country. Campaigning to close down Dungavel and for asylum seekers rights will become even more important.

Anti-war campaigning will obviously feature prominently in our activities in coming months and quite possibly in an ongoing way for some time to come. However, we must also be aware that the government and the bosses will not suspend the class war whilst they wage war abroad. Especially with the world economy slowing down, there will be (in fact there already are) further attacks on jobs, conditions and welfare provision. We still need to campaign against privatisation and we will still need to campaign for positive measures such as the abolition of the council tax & water charges and the introduction of free school meals.

It is vital that the party does not let slip the wide range of activities contained in the Campaigns Paper agreed at the last National Council. The party at all levels - national, region and branch - should consciously act to ensure that the Campaigns Paper is discussed and used a guide for action, along with the anti-war campaigning proposals contained in this paper.