Comrades who attended noted that all the speeches consisted of:
1. The usual orgy of self-congratulation for previous mobilisations against the Iraq war.
2. General agreement that Russia was in the wrong, was committing war crimes and should immediately leave Ukraine. The only speaker gave any context as to why Russia had taken these steps was Tariq Ali, who nevertheless portrayed Russia as the aggressor and President Vladimir Putin as a despot.
3. Meek ‘opposition’ to Nato in words combined with empty and nonsensical calls for ‘dialogue’ and ‘diplomacy’ between Russia and Ukraine – all devoid of any insight that the present rulers of Ukraine are pawns in the hands of European Union and US imperialism.
4. Commendations for the ‘bravery’ of the dupes and fifth columnists protesting against the war in Russia.
5. Repeated assertions that the speakers were under ‘great pressure’ for their ‘principled opposition’, despite the fact that their position and Nato’s are essentially the same (ie, Russia out).
Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech with as little substance as the rest, in which he reaffirmed his belief that all wars are bad, making no distinction between just and unjust wars.
Among his words of wisdom were the following: “We must fight for peace … But when we say ‘fight’, we don’t really mean one should fight. It is not good to fight.”
Despite such inanity, or perhaps because of it, he was treated like a rock star by the audience, and cleared off immediately after speaking.
In all the speeches there was one solitary mention of the thousands of deaths that have been inflicted on the people of Lugansk and Donetsk by the Ukrainian army over the last eight years.
Disturbingly, a Sinn Féin MP on the platform embarrassed himself by following exactly the same line as all the other speakers.
All the literature from the ‘left’ groups available portrayed the conflict as being an invasion by ‘Russian imperialism’ into plucky little Ukraine, which should therefore be opposed, or at best as an ‘interimperialist struggle’ between Russia and Nato over which workers should remain neutral, since both sides are as bad as each other.
Unsurprisingly, neither the Communists nor the Workers party have been invited to speak at any of Stop the War’s events around the country, although platforms have been made available to Ukrainian puppets calling for even more weapons to be sent to the country and for the imposition by Nato of a ‘no-fly zone’ (ie, for escalation to a direct confrontation between Nato and Russia instead of one via local stooges as at present).
Encouragingly, a lady who called for such imperialist escalation at a rally in Bristol on Sunday 6 March met with opposition from the audience. Nevertheless, the message that ‘Putin is a war criminal’ is one that is being assiduously pushed from every Stop the War platform across the country.
The west-backed fascist coup of 2014 (not the first west-backed coup in Ukraine in recent years), eight years of brutal war by west-trained fascist militia against Russian-speakers in the Donbass, the constant provocations of Nato war rehearsals on Russia’s borders, the deployment of troops and missiles in neighbouring countries … all this context has been disappeared by the leaders of Britain’s mis-named ‘antiwar movement’, who are only too happy to be given an excuse to jump on board with the imperialist media’s demonisation of Russia.
While the denazification of Ukraine and the destruction of the huge armaments silos that had been built up there offer some hope that a way out of World War 3 might yet be found, Stop the War is doing everything in its power to reinforce the imperialist drive to war with Russia by assuring us that efforts to crush that country and its leaders are in the interests of wider humanity.
Anyone who wants to truly ‘stand with Ukraine’ must surely welcome the chance for the majority of its peace-loving, independent-minded citizens to rid themselves of the fascist thugs who have been lording it in their streets and to regain a modicum of independence from the imperialists who have been recolonising their once-proud land.