Letters: Why Stop the War stops some from speaking

The following letters appear in the 12th December edition of the Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Friday 11 December 2015 18:37
Stop the War issued a staunch defence of its campaigning
Stop the War issued a staunch defence of its campaigning

The Stop the War Coalition is an organisation that pacifists like myself and my Quaker friends can join with a good conscience because it never as an organisation supports giving military help to any state or organisation whatsoever.

If it were to campaign to arm the Kurds, as Peter Tatchell is shown as doing, I would leave the organisation in which I have been active since it began.

The object of Stop the War is to try to prevent the British state engaging in foreign wars and to oppose it when it does or when the British state gives military or diplomatic support to the wars of others. It also opposes British nuclear weapons– that is why it works with CND.

The idea that it should campaign against Assad in a state which is itself opposed to Assad and yet as we speak is bombing its enemies is pointless and futile. Campaigning against another state’s or organisation’s iniquities wastes energy, as you have absolutely no purchase on the situation, even if it is an easy and popular thing to do.

As regards the actual conduct of Stop the War in regard to preventing speakers speaking. Yes, it does happen, I have seen it for myself, and when I have, I have protested against it, but it occurs when the speaker attempts to gain the support of Stop the War for military actions in their cause or when they are asking for the intervention of the main warmongering states in their cause.

That the Kurds and others in their military struggles against Isis call for the Americans to bomb their opponents means that it is not the Americans who are giving them help but they who are giving the Americans help, and they will become, in the future, the prisoners of American policy as a result

I should say that our own Stop the War/CND group invited a speaker from the Syrian opposition who argued for support for the creation of no-fly zones

Malcolm Pittock


MP Tristram Hunt says the Stop the War Coalition is a disreputable organisation.

Most people I know think Stop the War is credible and reputable. After all, wasn’t it right about the illegality and immorality of the Iraq war? Isn’t Iraq a basket case, now inhabited by the most dangerous Islamic fundamentalists thanks to Tony Blair? Wasn’t Stop the War right about Libya and Afghanistan? Tristram Hunt ought to hang his head in shame.

Mark Holt

Brighton-le-Sands, Merseyside

I’m surprised that Andy McSmith (10 December) does not see the difference between bombing in Iraq and Syria. While bombing should never be a preferred course of action, at least the UK has the support of the Iraqi government and a fairly effective ground force, resulting in some progress. In Syria it has neither of these, and is in danger of further destabilising an already complex situation.

Martin Heaton

Gatley, Greater Manchester

Militant tendency back with a new name

It is a sad reflection of the state of politics in the UK that so few people are members of a political party. Even the recent doubling of Labour Party membership has left it representing less than one per cent of the electorate, and the Socialist Party, given undue prominence on this page (11 December), considerably less.

The Militant Tendency was drummed out of the Labour Party in the early 1990s. Now it is back under its new name, pursuing the same Trotskyist agenda and with a greater chance of success, following the misguided antics of Labour MPs keen to reduce the influence of the unions where Socialist Party entryism had previously been more successful.

MPs are elected to represent all constituents, not just supporters of the Militant Tendency, but the vast majority of us who are not members of a political party have little or no say on whom the parties decide to put up for election; and without a fair voting system or a “none of the above” box on the ballot paper, we have no way to make our views known other than by spoiling our ballot or abstaining.

Little wonder that the proportion who bother to vote continues to decline.

Roger Chapman

Keighley, West Yorkshire

Corbyn was making a joke, get it?

Andy McSmith claimed that Jeremy Corbyn liked, nay approved, of a murderous dictator because he quoted him (“Enver Hoxha, the Albanian leader quoted approvingly by Jeremy Corbyn this week, killed up to 100,000 of his own citizens”, 10 December).

Anyone can see that Corbyn was making a joke. Describing Hoxha as a “tough ruler” is an understatement – everyone knows he was unbelievably horrible – hence the joke. And “this year will be tougher than last year” is also a joke because it always was; the regime was totally repressive, bleak and hopeless. A whole article on a joke, twisting it so that Corbyn looks like he liked this man? It’s obvious the knives are out.

Dr Mary Poulter

London N2

We must fight for LGBT rights

Philip Hammond indicates that the Foreign Office will integrate human rights across all aspects of UK foreign policy (“Promoting human rights is not about who can shout the loudest”, 10 December). This is welcome. Human rights are the linchpin for democracy, security and prosperity.

Persecution of LGBT people across the globe was a concern before, but not a priority. The Foreign Office’s fresh focus on democratic values and international law should mean LGBT rights can be given renewed significance in UK foreign policy.

Criminalising gay people undermines rule of law and diminishes democracy. It is costly. It deters business and eats away at GDP. It boosts and is a cause of the Aids crisis. More than a hundred million LGBT people live under the spectre of criminalisation. The success of the Foreign Secretary’s vision for global human rights protection should be measured against whether LGBT persecution is mitigated.

Jonathan Cooper

Chief Executive, Human Dignity Trust, London EC1

Drug’s role misunderstood

You refer to the drug pyrimethamine as “a treatment for Aids and cancer” (“Sold – to ‘America’s most hated man’, 10 December). It is not. It has no antiviral or anticancer properties. It is an antiprotozoal drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a rare disease which may be a problem in patients with very impaired immune systems. The real issue here – that of “orphan drugs” (developed to treat rare medical conditions) and their prices – would be more newsworthy.

Christopher Anton


Obesity worries could lead to persecution

Obesity is being talked about as the biggest threat to women’s health.

I do hope that this will not lead to the “persecution” of people such as my wife who, having had the “working parts” below the waist taken out and large gallstones removed, is left with an area of excess skin caused by the collapse of the muscle system surrounding her lower abdomen.

Yet her GP suggested two days ago that she “eat less”.

Bob Simmonds

Stickney, Lincolnshire

This summer we spent several weeks in Holland and almost never saw a fat person. It can’t all be down to bicycles.

Colin Wright

Orpington, Greater London

Climate think tank tactics no surprise

It is hardly surprising that the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has had to manufacture its own peer review process, as no reputable scientific journal would dream of publishing the ideologically driven nonsense that emanates from this organisation (“Lawson foundation adviser offered to write paper for fake oil firm”, 10 December).

Lord Lawson launched his think tank in 2009, just before the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, and used the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia to justify his initiative.

Since then, there have been five official inquiries into “Climategate”, none of which has found any evidence of any scientific misconduct or manipulation of data. So why hasn’t Lawson apologised to the scientists at CRU and closed GWPF down?

Dr Robin Russell-Jones

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Can anybody explain how our Government can simultaneously promote fracking in the UK while demanding that other countries reduce their carbon emissions? This is at best inconsistent, and at worst downright dishonest.

Let us put our money where our mouth is and look to ways of producing energy that do not pollute the atmosphere or lay up disposal problems for the generations to come.

Pauline Jameson


Ninety-seven per cent of experts agree that climate change is man-made. So now we know.

If history is anything to go by, they will all be wrong.

Bill Summers

Sturminster Newton, Dorset

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