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  • Published in Analysis
Jeremy Corbyn at '15 years on: Time to stop the war' conference. Photo: Flickr/ Jim Aindow

Jeremy Corbyn at '15 years on: Time to stop the war' conference. Photo: Flickr/ Jim Aindow

We must renew our efforts, build the anti-war movement and support Corbyn, argues Mick Wattam

The last 15 years of continuous war of which successive British governments have been at the forefront, have caused misery for millions of people in the form of countless unneccessary deaths, horrific injuries, destruction of cities and whole regions, polution of the environment and dispossession on a massive scale.

It is staggering but not at all surprising that western politicians and their supporters in the media have not learnt anything from this nightmare they are responsible for and still press for more aggression, more war and more confrontation.

As long as Britain is locked into the defence and continued support of US imperialism, through Nato membership and possession of nuclear weapons systems like Trident which are ultimately controlled by the US, then we shall continue as a nation to have priorities which will undermine our ability to create a fair and just society here at home.

The increased racism which is a direct consequence of the war on terror, will create divisions which will hamper the development of progressive politics, and military obligations will squander much needed funds which should be going into rebuilding the welfare state.

The Stop the War Coalition has consistently opposed US led western imperialism first and foremost, as our government is part of that coalition for war which has created many dangerous places around the world.

The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, understands the nature of imperialism and how it is crucial to oppose it as part of an agenda for real social change. But much of the Labour Party, including many on the left, do not agree on this issue, many believing that a compromise has to be reached with the state over foreign policy in order for them to carry out their domestic reforms.

In reality the position of Labour on war, Nato and Trident renewal will be crucial to whether it is able to offer a real alternative to the Labour governments of the past which have always been dogged by their support for western imperialist values and wholly tied into the American vision of what the world should look like. In the end, this has the effect of nullifying attempts to improve the domestic situation.

Apart from the very real fear of state opposition to an anti war government, what is also behind the Labour left's reluctance to fight for an anti war and anti nuclear position is their perception that their voters don't care about these issues as much as the obvious need for a new policy on housing or to save the NHS from complete meltdown.

But the opposition to war over the last 15 years has not diminished and the failure of the alledged aims of those wars to create a safer world has led to a more widespread understanding of the world and the motives of those who want to control it. I am sure, for instance, that the call to demonstrate against Russia's undoubtedly terrible interventions in Syria is seen for what it is by wide layers of people who would vote for a Corbyn government, a cynical attempt to cover up western involvement.

Many years ago in the early 1980s, I was inspired to take my first step into political activity by joining the huge demonstrations at the time against Polaris nuclear missiles and the original introduction of Trident. I am still meeting people of my generation who did the same.

I think the excitement created around Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader, and the growth in the Labour Party, is very much down to his stance on nuclear weapons and war, as there is a realisation that all is not right in the world. We live in a period where people are beginning to demand change and they are looking around for ways of getting it.

We therefore need to renew our efforts in building the Stop The War Coalition, mobilise the hundreds of thousands who have supported anti war and anti nuclear positions over the years and make sure that opposition to imperialism is at the heart of the ongoing resurgence of socialist ideas.

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