27 June Warmonger Out! 39


Tony Blair will quit Downing St on the morning of 27 June. We all recall those stage-managed images of him entering through rapt crowds waving union jacks. Well, it is time for the reverse image as we boo the old warmonger out. I do hope you will join me there. Blair’s leaving will be covered worldwide and it is a great opportunity to get our point across. It was Blair’s support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, against the whole background of the war in Iraq, that led the Labour MPs to boot Blair out. We should remind the World why he has to go.

It needs enough people that the media cannot ignore it – and a determination not to be shunted somewhere invisible.

(I have, incidentally, no idea why the Stop the War Movement is dissipating energy on yet another long traipse in the rain around the deserted parts of Manchester three days previously, which will get no coverage at all.)

I have been determinedly trying to give Gordon Brown the benefit of the doubt. Sadly his strong support for anti-civil liberties legislation seems to leave little room for doubt. The need to maintain the right to demonstrate is another good reason to be there. Military Families Against the War have a permit for the demo.

We have already had a preview of the kind of hagiographic, cult-of-personality type reviews the BBC will be pumping out. When Blair announced his departure a month ago, the BBC produced a montage of his premiership that ignored the anti-war movement, cash for honours, the Mandelson/Blunkett resignations, the Lebanon, the Bernie Ecclestone scandal, David Mills or anything else that might be viewed as negative – or balanced.

Doubtless the Labour Party will have laid on some pro-Brown demonstrators. Let us make sure that those who hate what Blair has done to this country are represented in waving him off.

Be there. Downing Street. 27 June. 10am.


39 thoughts on “27 June Warmonger Out!

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  • Ed

    This seems like a good time to ask this question. When this lot came to power there was quite a lot of talk about having an ethical foreign policy. I'd be interested to hear what you have to say about this – was it always just a sop to people like Robin Cook and Clare Short or was it something they really meant? When did the wheels come off and why? Was it just 911 or was there more involved, do you think?

  • Foddy

    Itis very strange that the BBC is only focusing on the positive side, if that is indeed correct. They haven't been overly favourable to Blair, especially during the latter years of his leadership. And I don't think history will judge him well. Iraq has certainly been his Achilles heel. How much more positively he would be remembered if he had the guts to say "I believed that I was right at the time, but in hindsight I see that we were given incorrect intelligence and it is now clear that Iraq actually posed no threat." It would have been looked on as a sign of strength of character, not as weakness.

    But it seems his Messianic vision will not allow him to do it.

  • t

    Didn't he actively assist in faking the evidence? Having demanded evidence to back up his pre-agreed plan to invade Iraq, his office took out the caveats and uncertainties in the JIC report, for example? Hard to see how he can say he was "given" the wrong evidence when he sought it.

    Otherwise, am and have been equally baffled by STW's tactics, or lack of them. It's bizarrely as if they keep turning this amazing peaceful majority movement into something pointless on purpose.

  • t

    PS Re STW I'm not saying I could have done any better, though I do think they could have more confidence in their remit. Perhaps it is worth trying to talk to them, Craig? At least one of the committee is a terribly decent person!

  • Butts

    Past Prime Ministers have sometimes chosen to leave by the back door and across the garden; understandable in many cases. I hope by convening in Downing Street, you won't miss the opportunity to wave a fond farewell.

  • Craig

    My bet is, Blair's sense of theatricality will insist on a front door exit. If he sneaks out the back, all the better in many ways.

    What I think is the likely scenario: Blair comes out the front, with protestors confined to the opposite pavement of Whitehall, with police buses drawn up in front of them to screen them from the tv cameras.

  • peacewisher

    Whilst I agree with what you say, Craig, about another harmless demonstration out of the way in Manchester, the truth of the matter is that the police don't even seem to be prepared to accept that! Seems like STW have been continually dumbing down their activities for years so they can meet with approval from "the authorities".

    I notice that Military Families against The War http://www.mfaw.org.uk are going to be at Downing Street for 10 am on Wednesday 27th, so anyone who turns up to heckle certainly won't be on their own. STW should certainly be encouraging this but of course they will be trying not to fall foul of SCOPA. And it could be that Blair will try to leave earlier in the morning, of course.

    If everyone who reads Craig's blog can publicise this event on their own blog, perhaps the message will get round.

  • George Dutton

    Blair will I think leave Parliament soon after he leaves number 10. He won't want people to know how much money he will be getting as it will have to be declared in the register of members interests. We will never know the true amount he will end up with.

    He is about to retire on a huge pension into a ?4m mansion in Belgravia and don't forget the royalties from his book,prime ministers always write a book of their years in number 10.Thatcher was rumoured to have got 20 million pounds for hers? so Blairs should be a LOT more.Then like Thatcher he will do the USA lecture circuit,after dinner speeches etc,Thatcher got about ?120,000 plus a night for hers some have said ?160,000 and that goes on for about three months (you work it out).Of course they will all be attended to full capacity to maximize how much he get's paid from a grateful USA (for services rendered no doubt).And then the lords and some VERY well paid directorships on the boards of very profitable companies.It will go on and on for him.And of course there will be Cherie Blairs book no doubt may I suggest a title for her book…My Tony was always RIGHT.

  • ChoamNomsky

    I wonder if they will ship-in bus loads of Labour supporters masquerading as random citizens (as is standard practice) to boo him off in a reasonably polite way.

  • Strategist

    I'll be there!

    I disagree with you about Manchester, though. It is the venue for Gordon Brown's coronation and the slogan "change the policy, not just the leader" seems entirely apt. It's an important symbolic presence at an event that will be full of national and maybe international media. It has about as good a chance of getting any coverage as a demo at Blair's departure from No 10 (that is – they'll cover it if they feel like it, and they'll cover it up, if they feel like that…) and can put some pressure on the media's chosen narrative about what's actually happening.

  • Strategist

    PS I must add a response to dear contributor Foddy's

    "How much more positively he would be remembered if he had the guts to say 'I believed that I was right at the time, but in hindsight I see that we were given incorrect intelligence and it is now clear that Iraq actually posed no threat.' "

    Foddy, Tony Blair knew perfectly well at the time that "Iraq actually posed no threat". The "threat" was always a fictional construct, as Michael Moore remarked upon at the Oscars.

    Blair's judgement call was that it was better for British oil companies and for the British economy/British international prestige more generally to follow Bush into Iraq than to stand on the sidelines. It has certainly proved to have been a good call for the oil companies, though not in the way expected. The ensuing shambles has seen unexpectedly high oil prices and record oil company profits.

    The jury is perhaps still out on the impact on British economic & diplomatic interests more widely – it doesn't seem to have damaged us as much as it should have, is my view (we won the Olympics for example)- more views on this question on this thread would be interesting…

    The reason we anti-war protesters (or at least this one) are against Blair is that this decision didn't consider for a moment the likely suffering of innocent Iraqis that would follow from committing the "paramount war crime" – starting a war of aggression – revealing the perennial amorality, and casual callous racism of the British establishment under imperialism.

  • johnf

    >The jury is perhaps still out on the impact on British economic & diplomatic interests more widely – it doesn't seem to have damaged us as much as it should have, is my view (we won the Olympics for example)- more views on this question on this thread would be interesting…

    Perhaps one of the reasons the damage to our interests has not been so great is the way we in the antiwar "movement" perceive the world.

    Perhaps we are a bit old fashioned. We look back to a time of more sovereign western states where the rule of law and defence of civil liberties and the ideas of "righteous" wars still existed. We were brought up in the time of the Cold War when it was still necessary for these values to be proclaimed and even practised.

    But sociologists and others have been charting the rise of new ruling classes in the West. Christopher Lasch's 1990's classic "The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy" and others like it argue that the new metropolitan elites of the "Western/capitalist" world find employment worldwide within this sphere, and, through their experiences, now show much more loyalty to other members of this international class than to the particular countries from which they might have originated.

    Not only does this lead to a super-elitist attitude, but to almost a contempt for the traditional values of democracy – to say nothing of contempt for such marginal persons as the workforce and the poor.

    As more and more "western/capitalist" countries come to be run by this class/generation, with their loyalty, if anywhere, gravitating towards the US, perhaps this explains why Britiain has not suffered so much internationally from other governments for its barbaric and shameful foreign policy.

    This is, in itself, ironic. They flock to Washington's grand project of global hegemony just at the very moment that hegemony is visibly and alarmingly disintegrating.

  • johnf

    I say "alarmingly" because its becoming increasingly obvious that our new western/capitalist leadership is heavily dependent on a blinkered ideological approach to the world, and is incapable of thinking outside the box, of adaptation to a rapidly changing world.

    As the other power blocs in the world –

    China, Russia, India, South America – increasingly manoeuvre and improvise – we are getting more and more rigid and doctrinaire and one-solution-covers-all in our thinking.

  • Craig

    Strategist,

    Purely on the tactics, I have to disagree. Manchester is another super-controlled Labour conference, and the Brown "Coronation" will take place inside the hall. Anything happening outside the hall will be completely ignored by the media – it is entirely predictable. Whereas Blair's drive away from Downing St will be, by definition, an outdoor event. I have no doubt the police will try to hide us, which is why numbers are important. But unlike Manchester, we will be there and any media covering the event will be able to hear us.

    I am not trying to stop anyone going to Manchester. I just think it is not the best tactic, so I'm not going.

  • Craig

    Ed –

    Rather a late rejoinder, but I think Clare Short and Robin Cook both did believe in an ethical foreign policy. Blair, Straw and Brown ambushed Cook very early at Cabinet, forcing through the sale of BAe jets to Indonesia, (BAe again) to ram home the point that the defence industry was more important than ethics.

    Clare Short's book, An Honourable Deception?, is well woth reading.

  • Jeremy

    I think Stop the War would probably argue that in order to have a big demonstration it has to be at the weekend, which means the Manchester coronation is the appropriate target. But I agree it's very important to have a big presence in Whitehall on the day Blair leaves as well.

    There's also the (unauthorised) parliament square peace camp that's happening all week – see http://www.warisstilltheissue.org

    I think if there are enough numbers in Whitehall it will become impossible for police vans to block people – and will they want to arrest people for not obeying their provisions (or not having applied for permission?) under SOCPA? 'Anti-war protesters arrested as Blair leaves office' is even worse than 'Anti-war protesters hidden by vans as Blair leaves office'!

  • peacewisher

    The antiwar movement has been grossly let down by Stop the War Coalition going back to the 15th February 2003 event itself… when Edwin Starr (then still alive!) was denied access to the stage to sing "War". Could then have been rereleased as a single and at that point in time it certainly would have been No. 1. As we know, he died a few weeks later.

    I know there are god people in STW, but many believe that they were infiltrated by New labour at some stage, and certainly they let the peace movement down badly by not actively supporting Craig with his factually correct remark that a vote for labour in 2005 would be a vote stained with blood.

    I started out as an antiwar campaigner thinking that labour were "spinning" a case for war with Iraq. I never dreamt that the government could be so corrupt as to accept intelligence acquired under the most brutal torture, and then put a spin on that to prroduce the "45 minutes" newspaper headlines that influenced some people (creditably few!) behind the war.

    Anyone who has not yet read Craig's book should do so before 27th June. They will then find it difficult NOT to be part of the angry crowd outside Downing Street that sends Blair off to god knows where.

  • Foddy

    "Foddy, Tony Blair knew perfectly well at the time that "Iraq actually posed no threat". The "threat" was always a fictional construct, as Michael Moore remarked upon at the Oscars."

    We all know that! But what I'm suggesting could at least save him some face (not that he deserves it) and, more importantly, make it easier for Gordon Brown to cut the links to the neocons in Washington. I'm just getting into "Fiasco" by Tom Ricks, and the manipulation and lies by Wolfowitze, Perle, Cheney and others was just breathtaking. On second thoughts, by getting into bed with these guys, Blair doesn't deserve to save any face.

  • greengorilla

    StWC seem amazingly able to miss all the best opportunities and work in a manner which smacks of opposition control, ie give the proles a safety valve to vent their anger with the occasional march.

    They seem enormously concerned not to upset the Government and to toady along with the establishment.

    I wouldn't be in the least surprised if its committee is being led by government stooges. That suspicion is widely held everywhere these days and there's no smoke etc.

    They seem to think that marching will win them the revolution. They appear unable to organise a brewery piss-up.

    Why?

  • Craig

    Deep breath and time to be controversial.

    I should confess to not being a member of STW, though of course I support it and turn up to talk at rallies etc.

    The fundamental problem of STW is that it purports to lead the largest popular movement since the chartists, while the executive comprises of the trimming on the far edge of a distant fringe of opinion of the bulk of its supporters. Those millions marching against the war covered the spectrum of British political opinion. The STW executive is, bluntly, completely dominated by revolutionary communists in their various, and bickering, tiny factions.

    A real STW executive would include Charlie Kennedy, Kenneth Clarke and Peter Hitchens alongside Tony Benn, Walter Wolfgang and George Galloway. Those currently "leading" the movement -Lindsey German, John Rees, Andrew Murray and Chris Nineham – are never going to be major political figures.

    They are, for the most part, very nice people indeed and certainly not Blair stooges. But there is a substantial difference between those of us who feel that this country wasn't too bad before Blair and Bush – could have been a great deal better and more just, but compared to most of the World on the whole was pretty decent – and those who believe the imperialism and domestic power grabs of Bush and Blair are a natural product of capitalism, and no real change is possible without smashing the entire system.

    If you have that world view (and it has its attractions), then using STW to propagandise and build up your revolutionary cadre and consciousness, rather than actually to stop the war, becomes a perfectly ethical thing to do. I am not saying they do not want to stop the war – I am saying that for them it is a desirable goal to stop the war, but only en route to a more important objective.

    It also explains why STW appears rather often gratuitously to upset its important Christian and pacifist wings.

    The problem then is that these movements have a rather limited repertoire of activity, of which marching around hopelessly in the rain is the main one. The SWP and CP people would be doing this anyway. And given that their means of maintaining themselves alive is traditionally generally to get paid posts in the fringes of the trade unions and old Labour controlled local authorities, these are people who have hung round Labour conference fringes their whole adult lives, and so events like Manchester loom larger to them than they would to the rest of us.

    So, in short, STW may have huge popular support, but has been captured by very hard working, very well meaning and generally very nice people with a limited world view and tiny but highly organised activist base. That is why it is not really fulfilling its potential.

  • greengorilla

    Thank you, Craig, for that invaluable assessment from someone who has more internal knowledge of StWC than I.

    You confirm my suspicions, though, that the anti-war movement has (in the nicest possible way) been 'hijacked' as it were. I know how politicoes have a habit of doing this.

    The StWC is such a different animal to the Peace Movement in the 'eighties with leading figures like CND's Bruce Kent, END's Edward Thompson and Brigadier Michael Harbottle from the World Disarmament Campaign. That Movement was somewhat closer to what you suggest above but even then, inevitably, the Thatcherites labelled us as 'reds under the bed'!

    I don't know what it will take to establish the kind of umbrella movement you and I envisage but one thing is clear: there never was a time when it was more needed.

    Why We Must Break with the American Crazies, http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/06/17/19

  • johnf

    I seem to remember though that by the late 70's CND had become dominated by a clique of pro-Moscow communists, and it needed the icebreaker of END and Thompson and Kaldor and Kent and Meg Beresford to smash into it and get CND rebuilt as a movement that could attract mass support.

    I entirely agree that Tories, Lib Dems, Christians and pacifists Uncle Tom Cobley et al should be involved in its base.

  • johnf

    I never really liked CND much even after that. I thought it relied far too much on emotional blackmail, in scaring people witless about a possible nuclear war.

    I always preferred the END approach which treated people like rational adults and put forward a reasoned alternative to the politics of the Cold War – linking and dealing equally with human rights abuses in the East and the aggression of the militarily superior West – and showing how each could both be used to neutralize the other.

    WE need to think and talk far more about the flaws and consequences of neo-con actions in the real world, and how we could organize a different and more rational sort of world – albeit a world whose balances and alliances are changing at breakneck speed. We need a REALISTIC view/analysis of the world first of all and then suggestions and debates about what we do.

  • greengorilla

    Perhaps the most major flaw of 'the Left' is that it is, by nature reactive. So it's always several steps behind whatever it is protesting about.

    Governments, on the other hand, are proactive and so are extremist right groups like the Neocons, Monetarists etc.

    Until 'the Left' can come up with a vision for the future which it is imaginatively able to promote (and that means far more than foot-slogging marches) it will always be self-handicapped.

    I suspect that that is mainly the problem with both the StWC and CND at present. They desperately need to be stirred-up by something like END.

    But END ended-up making a fatal mistake.

    END's weakness, I believe, was to go into hibernation after Gorbachev's glasnost and pereztroika. Instead, it should have shifted the focus onto the western powers to pressure them to follow the Russian example. They didn't and ended up in the pockets of the West.

    The Arms Race ended but western rearmament and NATO expansion went on apace. Thompson died and with him END.

    Hence it was possible to argue that the greatest achievement of the Peace Movement was to produce a Gorbachev! That may be partly true, the Russians were always favourable to the Peace Movement. But what really broke the Russians was an Arms Race in which they couldn't keep up.

    That was a calculated US strategy which succeeded and which was never challenged by END or anyone else in the West. Hence our militarized societies today.

  • peacewisher

    Stop the War Coalition was founded from nothing to protest about the proposed invasion of Afghanistan.

    Another movement could just as easily be founded with cross-party support. The "Impeach Blair" campaign seemed to have just that, but no-one took the lead to make it a mass movement. Well, I think Adam Price tried but pulled back. But there is certainly a nucleus of support for a new grouping. Would you join such a group. I certainly would… Of course the name would have to change e.g. "Justice not Vengeance" – oops, sorry Milan, you got there first. How about "Voices in the Wilderness"?. Ooops again. Could go on… There ARE plenty of groups that could come together independently of the very nice but ideologically committed people of STW.

  • johnf

    greengorilla

    I entirely agree that the Russian state under Gorbachev seems to have taken on many END policies by the end of the 80's – I often think this might have been down to all the early 80's END pamphlets the E European governments confiscated from us on the way to dissidents that might have been read instead by lower and middle ranking members of the ruling communist parties, who by the late 80's were moving into positions of power. Gorbachev some what trustingly seems, as you say, to have been assuming that the West would be as generous as himself in his views on the future END-type world.

    I don't know if END was really responsible for what then happened. The violent western free market "attack" on Russia which then occured took only a few short weeks, as "miraculously" western banks did deals with Russian gangsters and asset stripped an entire country. Any mass peace movement – which CND and END certainly wasn't by then – needs time to react. And we were certainly partly fooled by talk of peace dividends etc. Western militarism only really returned to full and ugly reality with 9/11.

    But END should be looked on positively. After all, its about the only left movement that has succeeded in the last forty years or so – a Europe of peace and freedom. The rest of the world is a bit more of a challenge. First we need a realistic analysis of the state of the world, then proposals for moving that world into safer, more stable waters.

  • johnf

    peace wisher

    Rather than found a movement and then try and find some policies, I'd rather debate some policies first, try and reach some sort of agreement, and then see if anyone's fired into founding a movement in reaction to that agreement.

    How about a meeting/symposium where we could hear views from across the antiwar spectrum. Ken Clarke and Chris Patten, Rosemary Hollis, Dan Plesch, Craig, Rita Chakrabati (forgive spelling), (whose that Lib Dem MP for Lewes?), Peter Kilfoyle, Clare Short, independent voices of the Left ((I'm trying to avoid familiar names like Galloway or Benn who I think would be mainly reactive rather than proactive in their thinking). I should think there's military people who're doing an awful lot of thinking at the moment about future military policies in a future world (ARRSE has some real individualists on it).

    Going across the pond, Juan Cole who is a specialist AND a generalist, Col Pat Lang and other ex-US intelligence officers, intelligence and foreign policy experts of our own. Let's hear from the French and Germans. I'm not going into the world beyond.

    What is blindingly obvious is that our present leaders haven't thought damn all about the future. They have one plan and one plan alone. And if that fails – and it palpably is – then no one has given a second's thought on Plan B. That's our job.

  • Strategist

    I'm not an SWP member nor even an Stop the War member, and I wouldn't really disagree with the statement that the Stop the War movement in this country isn't really fulfilling its potential; nevertheless I feel the urge to defend StW here….

    About Manchester on the 24th and Downing St on the 27th, the answer to that question is simple – those who find it easier to be in Manchester on a Sunday lunchtime should go there and those that find it easier to be in London on a Wednesday at 10am should go there. And the committed are free to go to both. The really committed should get down to Parliament Square and go and defend Brian Haw's encampment NOW, because it looks to be under threat and is growing by the day (which in itself will probably provoke a police response).

    But I would reiterate that a coronation is a constitutionally significant event (ask Samuel Pepys) and so StW should be there. You cannot decide what you will do & not do on the basis of second guessing what the media will cover. StW could easily get on the news on Sunday by smashing a load of shop windows or something, but that's not something they do. They do non-violent demos with a police permit, and fair play to them – I wouldn't be happy to take my kids along if they didn't.

    That doesn't mean that we don't need a wider spectrum of anti-war activity – yes we need an anarchist "black bloc" smashing windows, yes we need the pacifists doing vigils and supporting Brian Haw, yes we need the LibDems to get off their arses and do whatever it is they do (deluging homes with election leaflets??). What we don't need is to waste energy by attacking what other anti-war groups are doing. At StW a tiny group of lefties are seriously punching above their weight on a shoestring budget. StW put on a debate at Westminster Central Hall at which Charles Kennedy and a few Tories I think spoke. Let others match that in what they are doing before criticising them.

    The idea of an all party anti-war group is a nice idea, but it won't happen. It would be scuppered by the Tories' & the LibDems' high commands; they would simply refuse to act in good faith.

    I think the activity that really has potential for internet activists and other intellectuals is the Impeach Blair stuff. Or to phrase it another way – this is the campaign that is undershooting its true potential much more badly than StW. The indictment has been prepared and it would be the stuff of my dreams if Blair were to be pursued around is retirement by a genuine threat that he will be extradited to a court somewhere. Craig, if you really think this could be done in Scotland this would be absolutely ideal, and you would have many supporters if you made that your No.1 project.

  • Raven

    As a Brit living abroad, I am on the wrong continent to see Blair off appropriately on the 27th. I shall be there in spirit, and being a virtual attendee has the advantage of allowing me to sling virtual objects his way that I would not be permitted to carry to Downing Street. Until this creep finally faces a tribunal, I shall continue to remind him and those around him that the innocent tomato should be the least of his worries. My choices of missile would include ripe dead rodents and other forms of smelly offal. Such is the respect that is his due.

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