The campaign to stop the school of death at St Athan received a minor setback last night when SWP members and supporters ensured Cardiff Stop The War Coalition rejected our resolution for the STW conference.
The resolution is already on the conference agenda and is supported by the FE sector of Wales UCU (see below), but support from Cardiff STW would clearly have increased its chances of success.
Last night’s meeting indicated, however, that both the SWP and its partners in the UK leadership of STW, the CPB (Communist Party of Britain), will oppose the coalition taking up the fight against the St Athan super-academy.
This may surprise some people. After all, the proposed school of death, besides being an obscenity in itself, will be one of the world’s prime sites for training armed forces for the “War on Terror” which it is STW’s stated mission to oppose.
However, SWP speakers claimed that backing the St Athan campaign could threaten the wide support the coalition enjoys.
It is an argument which, in different forms, we have heard from the SWP for over thirty years: in their view you cannot build a mass campaign if you threaten the central ideas that legitimate capitalist rule: the need for immigration controls, for example, or the illusion that ‘our boys and girls’ in the armed forces are essentially a benevolent force acting in our interests who are occasionally led into an unwise war.
Consequently, while seven years of STW have eroded confidence in the Labour government and put pressure on them to withdraw forces form Iraq, the coalition has failed to alter perceptions of British imperialism and its military servants.
During that time, at the behest of the SWP, the supposed clear focus of STW has changed several times, from a campaign against war in Afghanistan, to a campaign against war in Iraq, and now a catch-all campaign against the War on Terror. In order to keep its clear focus its leaders refused to carry out a decision of the 2nd People’s Assembly – motivated by a Cardiff PR member- to set up anticapitalist social forums. At the same time the STW website had a link to the SWP’s anticapitalist front Globalise Resistance. The need for a clear focus, moreover, has not prevented the coalition adding the fight for a free Palestine to its aims, nor the fight against a racist backlash from the Iraq war, nor the fight for civil liberties – an issue which covers a multitude of struggles, many of them potentially divisive.
PR are not opposed to STW taking on these issues. But then why not take on the massive issue of St Athan which is inextricably linked both to the prosecution of future invasions, the repression of dissent and the inflammation of racism?
PR are not interested in token protest or building small sectarian campaigns. We want to see a mass Stop The War movement, but not one whose hands are tied by the fear of taking on the hard arguments.