Tuesday, 11 September 2007
Lindsey German and the Grand Old Duke of York
A "Student Organising Meeting" was called at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Saturday 8 September, with speakers including NUS President Gemma Tumelty, Lindsey German and Tony Benn of the Stop the War Committee (STWC).
Writing in the pages of Socialist Worker, Assed Baig prefaced a report of the meeting by noting, apparently without irony, "things have changed" . Beyond wafer-thin displays of public-unity between Gemma Tumelty and the Stop the War leadership, the meeting reaffirmed the central importance the STWC intends to assign the “Grand old Duke of York” approach to demonstrations in the coming year.
Lindsey German provided a perfunctory speech on the "global" successes of the anti-war movement. Highlighting the "lobby of parliament" on 8 October, she paused only briefly to brush aside suggestions that student activists might question the strategy of a march, distinguishable from the last only by its dwindling number of attendees.
Perhaps fearing that promises of unceasing protest may have sounded more menacing than originally intended, the crowd were treated to a seemingly endless shopping-list of Stop the War achievements, ranging from the premature ejection of Blair from office to the “recent decision to withdraw British troops from Basra to a base outside the city” .
That the leadership of the STWC felt compelled to rally the troops to hear about these latest achievements suggests that they at least partially recognise the demoralising effect of asking a fairly small core of activists to repeat unchanging slogans, in lieu of a wider strategy for change.
Ben Lewis of Communist Students commented on the “global” anti-war movement Lindsey German had made not inconsiderable reference to, by highlighting the existence of an anti imperialist anti-war movement in Iran and the ripe opportunity this presents for principled unity among Iranian workers, women and students in opposition to Iran’s Islamic regime, while opposing US imperialism.
This position of solidarity was in turn caricatured by an SWP member from the floor, with the expressed support of the STWC leadership on the platform, as dictating to the Iranian left. Unsurprising though this may be, such an attempt to deflect criticism with convenient hyperbole should be met with the disapproval it deserves.