Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Is the Anti-War Lobby Really Serious?

www.vote4peace.org.uk has just launched to much fanfare. This pressure group, with a "war chest" of £100,000 or more, is campaigning to save MPs in marginal seats who voted against the war with Iraq.

While I admire their organisation and motivation, I can't help thinking they’re not really serious. In their position, I would do something very different indeed. Instead of spreading my efforts across the country, I would concentrate on just one constituency - Sedgefield.

Tony Blair has a majority of 17,713 over the Tories in his own constituency. If 18,000 dedicated anti-war campaigners moved to Sedgefield for a few months and voted Tory, the chief architect of British involvement in the war would be unseated and for the next 50 years, no Prime Minister would dare repeat the mistake.

I reckon this would cost about £10m, including the costs of the campaign (£10k), the pre-campaign (£90k) and rent (£9.9m). If 2m people can march on the streets of London against the war then I'm sure they can stump up a fiver each to stop it.

Now I'm not suggesting this should be done - and it wouldn't stop the war, just encourage Tony's successor PM to withdraw our troops - but it would be an effective way of making a point. Tony I think has earned a place in our Parliament even if one does daydream occasionally about what other potential leaders might achieve.

My conclusion is that www.vote4peace.org.uk is less motivated by opposition to the war and more by a desire to keep out Tories in marginal constituencies. And in that regard, I can't complain.

You Can't Be Serious?
"If 18,000 dedicated anti-war campaigners moved to Sedgefield for a few months and voted Tory, the chief architect of British involvement in the war would be unseated and for the next 50 years, no Prime Minister would dare repeat the mistake."

18,000 peace protestors setting up camp in Sedgefield? Bonkers. Maybe in the Ukraine this kind of thing works - but not in Sedgefield.

These peaceniks are a bunch of Greens and Liberals with an implicit anti-Tory agenda - ironic now that Howard says a la Kerry he would vote against the war that he voted for before. A lot of them are pro-Palestinian I see - and I haven't ever once noticed any of them campaigning against suicide bombers or terrorists. Peace on their terms would see Saddam still in power and the terrorists victorious in the Middle East. Blair deserves some credit for progress in the Middle East - Saddam in jail and movement forward on Israel - Palestine is progress.


At 6:28 am, Blogger Paul Hilder said...

Thanks for the big-up, Monkey! I wouldn't dissuade you from Sedgefield. I'm all for creative dissent, if it works. Though Guido is probably right - we're not Ukrainians. Yet. (Note www.Vote4Peace.org.uk's orange colour scheme.)

But at best, you would only win one seat (just like Galloway). We stand to win 40. Quit thinking in terms of magical protest and start thinking about practical politics.

(By the way, analysts agree that if Labour's majority is sub-50, and depending on how many rebels are in that number, the prime minister's lives are likely to run out faster.)

As for Guido: get your facts right, pal, and stop parroting clash-of-civilisations babble. We're mainstream progressives from Lab/Lib backgrounds who are interested in winning seats for the cause of light.

What have you ever done in the Middle East? My colleagues can speak for themselves, but note their work on Darfur. I'm not pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli. I have friends and acquaintances on both sides (including among the Israeli settlers), and I empathise with all sides. In another capacity, I've briefed Labour ministers, US Senate aides and Downing Street on the Middle East peace process. Blair has the right leaning but insufficient follow-through, and is too close to a White House more interested in interim stabilisation than making a viable peace.

What have you ever done against terror? (Apart from laid gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament?) There are people who’ve done much more than me. But I rapporteured the Amman Roundtable on Human Security in the Middle East before last year’s G8/NATO summits including calls for immediate ceasefire, for international law and human rights to be respected by both sides, and for coordinated non-violent strategies. I edited Peace Fire: Fragments from the Israel-Palestine Story, which narrates the first two years of the second Intifada from over 100 perspectives, including Israeli soldiers and the families of suicide-bombing victims, and sought to help people see both sides. And I’ve been working behind the scenes along similar lines.

Speaking personally, peace on my terms would have seen Saddam out of power through a multilateral, legitimate intervention years earlier - or by preference, through the "Canadian option" in the Security Council (talk to any diplomat who knew what was going on, or see my blog at http://gathering.typepad.com).

It’s the terror wars that are feeding thousands of young Arabs to al-Qaeda – not mainstream advocates for peace and international legitimacy.

Don’t you think it’s time we grew up?

At 4:31 pm, Blogger Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

Democracy and prosperity are required in the Middle East.

I do believe in the moral superiority of Western civilisation, that human rights are universal, that democracy has no no-go areas on the globe, that all the world can benefit from globalisation.

What have I ever done in the Middle East? Mostly I partied. Do what you do best I say. You seem to have bored everyone all over the region.

I'm not a pacifist, nor am I a warmonger. What good has war ever done, besides defeat slavery, fascism and communism?

Thanks for your CV by the way.

At 5:25 pm, Blogger Paul Hilder said...

Yup, democracy and prosperity are required in the Middle East. You said by email to me last night: "We're going to overcome the Mad Mullahs with prosperity, mini-skirts, MTV, Ipods and cultural desirability - not nukes." Thanks for that endorsement of No More Iraqs!

The question about democracy is who gets elected. What will the West do when there's another Algeria?

Party on! Got to rush - I've got a real-world campaign to run.



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