Anti-war protest in St Thomas Square, Newport, Isle of Wight

Keynote speech at the anti-war protest in St Thomas Square, Newport, Isle of Wight at 7pm, Monday, April 16th, 2018.

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Not- in – our – Name

The whole point is they did it, but we said “Not in our Name”. Stop the War Coalition was set up from the standpoint of the public conscience and is the organised form of that conscience in civil society. That’s why we need Stop the War here on the island permanently.

The discussion at the moment is where sovereignty and decision-making lies, is it in the executive or the legislature?  The cabinet or Parliament? Should the prerogative lie with the Prime Minister or Parliament? Personally, I would say that I would prefer that it lies with us, the people, where the “Will of the People exists”, and that means in this case where our consciences are expressed, and that is with Stop the War.

Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas and maybe one or two more reflect our aspirations for anti-war Government in Parliament but it goes no further. Even so the demand that Parliament should have its say is in the right direction by demanding that civil authority prevails. The call for new legislation and a ‘War Powers Act” are also in the right direction so that the warmongers lose their prerogative.

The demand of Stop the War Coalition for Ant-War Government was and is the theme of its recent national tour. Why is it so important?

The United Nations was set up after World War 2 on the basis of preventing World War happening ever again. It said that all nations, big or small, should have rights, for independence, sovreignty and not be invaded or their affairs interfered with. It stated that disputes should be solved by other means rather than war. It put the onus on states to adopt anti-war measures and anti-war government.

Britain, America and Russia all had to respond by laying the foundations for the then new United Nations after the League of Nations had collapsed. The response was due to 9 million deaths in the Soviet Union, the blitz and mass bombings on civilian populations, the destruction of Warsaw and other cities, the refugee crisis that followed invasion. The widespread conflict around the world. The utter devastation of war. It was the result and demands of partisan and liberation movements against the Nazis.

The framework was to create the UN Charter, the human rights charter and included the formation of various conventions, courts and International law. It set up the UN Assembly and the security council along with its vetoes to maintain equilibrium. Now we are faced with a new framework and perhaps there is room to reform the UN but that does not mean that any big power can supersede and undermine the UN’s authority and principles.

Hitler annexed Austria and invaded Czechoslovakia first before Poland.   Mussolini invaded Albania, a small country off its coast.   Hirohito and Tojo invaded China. This is why the UN pledged its support for the rights of small nations to determine their own futures without foreign interference.

This is why today we have to uphold those principles in foreign affairs and cannot follow the path of the likes of Trump, May or Macron. We cannot allow Bolton and Trump to ride roughshod over the reasons why the sovereign rights of countries were established in the first place.

In the UN building in New York there is a statue, a monument to peace, it shows a person with a large hammer striking blows at a weapon, a sword. The symbolic act of turning swords into ploughshares is an iconic and powerful symbol of peace, and it is what the UN was set up to achieve in the first place.

With your permission, we would like to create such a masterpiece of symbolic art in the form of a mosaic in Ventnor. A group of mosaic artists give you the decision-making power for this work to be carried out and placed where you would like it to be put. We do this providing that you act also in the tradition of a peaceful Isle of Wight, and organise for anti-war government by setting up a new Stop the War Committee for peace on the island and in civil society, and continue to play the part that you always have in the past.

To finish I would ask that we consider here today to set up a contingent of Stop the War on the island and commit that proposal to you all.

***********************

Tonight between 7pm and 9pm, a number of people gathered with a banner explicitly demanding, “Don’t Bomb Syria!”. The protest was called by Vix Lowthian of the Green Party. Speeches were made, slogans such as “Not in our name” were shouted and placards held. A number of speeches denounced the Government of Theresa May and one keynote speech referenced the issues of where decisions should be made rather than the Government or Parliament but instead in civil society. Also that the people should be empowered and in particular form a local STOP THE WAR COMMITTEE. A unanimous vote was taken to endorse the proposal immediately. The first meeting will take place at Quay Arts next Wednesday at 7.30pm.

 

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