seumas Milne

The news that the so-called ‘Stop the War’ Coalition are a disgrace will not come as a surprise to many people. They predictably protest against any action by Britain, America, NATO and the West, even in when it means campaigning in defence of tyrants’ rights to continue various wars, genocides and atrocities. Imagine any scenario in which a democratic country proposes to live up to its universal Responsibility to Protect civilians from violence by a dictatorship or terrorist group, and quick as you can say “Trotskyite relativism”, so-called ‘Stop the War’ will be marching against them, sounding off about imperialism. Normally they don’t succeed, but when they do, innocent people die.

Against that background, Boris Johnson and Ann Clywd were onto something yesterday when they wondered why these self-proclaimed defenders of peace are so silent about Russia’s bombing campaign against Syrian civilians.

The BBC duly phoned them up and invited them onto the Today Programme to ask that very question. The answer they got was worse than nonsensical. Their Vice-Chairman said “our focus is on what our Government is doing” but not on Russia – which makes you wonder why they regularly protest at the actions of America or Israel.

Having deployed that double standard, he kept digging, arguing that “a protest outside the Russian embassy would actually contribute to increasing the hysteria and the jingoism which is being whipped up at the moment against Russia”. That’s right: ‘Stop the War’ think that it is jingoistic to suggest that Russia ought not to pulverise residential apartment blocks in Aleppo with bunker-busting bombs. He went on to declare that the very concept of a no-fly zone in Syria threatened World War Three – suggesting in effect that Stop the War’s position on Syria is that the cause of peace is best served by, er, allowing this bloody war to continue.

The piece de resistance, though, came in the final seconds. The StW spokesman declared magnificently that “everyone who’s got a sense of responsibility for peace or for the future of the planet” has to “mobilise”…”and that means opposing the West.” There we have it: this isn’t the “Stop the War Coalition”, it’s now openly the “Stop the West Coalition”.

In previous years, this would simply have been annoying – a prominent British political movement, under the sway of the Socialist Workers’ Party, working to defend tyrants, stymie British interests and abandon civilians in Syria to a grim fate. But this is 2016, the second age of Corbyn. No longer are Stop the West simply loons with megaphones, they are embedded at the heart of the Opposition.

Corbyn was chairman of this organisation until just over a year ago, and spent years working with these people in pursuit of their unpleasant aims. In case that slipped your mind, his spokesman riffed on the theme in the post-PMQs press briefing. “The focus on Russian atrocities or Syrian army atrocities I think sometimes diverts attention from other atrocities that are taking place,” he is quoted as saying, before suggesting there was just as much reason to protest at the American embassy as at the Russian embassy. What StW pronounced on the Today Programme, the Labour Party now repeated from its leaders’ office.

The barbarians aren’t at the gates anymore, they’re in charge of the official Opposition of this country – pushing apologism for tyrants, complaining that the media cover the wrong sort of atrocities, drawing false equivalence between the actions of Assad and Putin and the actions of the United States and Britain. The more they do it, and the more they are indulged, the more people will die, and the more our ability to save them will be diminished. They want to Stop the West, and they must be opposed.

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