To ensure that my student experience is truly complete and i fully conform to the fair-weather student revolutionary stereo type, I today attend an anti-war protest. There was hardly anyone there but a few angry Yorkshire-men (and women) giving some impassioned speeches made it entertaining enough. I wrote this for the student paper.
Today the Anti-war movements returned to one of its historic strong holds. This protest might not have been a huge success, in terms of turnout, but the victory had already been won in Parliament. Speeches given before the protest were revealing – victorious, but also bitter and cautious.
The protest was called by the “Stop the war coalition” who is represented in Sheffield and campaign nationwide for an, “end the occupations in Afghanistan & Palestine, against any attack on Iran or Syria, against Islamophobia, and in defence of civil liberties. The turn out was modest, as expected, after MPs voted down Cameron’s motion before it could even be debated in the commons.
James Eden of Chesterfield trade union council was clear that MPs must be “applauded” for their decision yet Nick Clegg was not so highly lauded, another speaker, Julia Armstrong of the Sheffield star, spoke of Nick Clegg’s recent “warmongering” on a visit to the offices of The Star.
Armstrong also articulated the most popular and repeated sentiment of the event – that spending money on foreign wars is irresponsible when so much suffering is currently felt at home due to financial cut backs. The event was attended by Sheffield Socialist party, Unite union and Sheffield Un-cut, all of whom where canvasing against the bedroom tax, a lack of social housing and austerity in general.
“We don’t have to make a false choice between Imperialism and supporting the Assad regime,” said Armstrong. The consensus at this event was that foreign bombs would only fuel and inflame this extremely complicated and impassion ethnic and religious civil war. Or, that punishing this one Chemical attack may appear to make the countless other ways of murdering civilians slightly more legitimate.
Bill Ronksley, who has been involved with Sheffield Peace Congress since the end of World War Two, spoke of Sheffield’s long history of peace. On the Syrian conflict and American foreign policy he proclaimed, “the world now knows where the British people stand,” and “this so called holly alliance between the UK and the US is dead.”
Those who remember how the two million strong protests and decisions of the UN were completely ignored over the Iraq war, today is a victorious one.
However Armstrong warned that David Cameron might try to support Obama in an indirect way or bring the issue back to parliament for another vote. We should “maintain the pressure of the anti war movement,” she said.