Stop the War Coalition's pro-Qaddafi demo

Today's Stop the War Coalition protest outside Downing Street, against Western military intervention in Libya, was attended by about a hundred people. It was heavily dominated by Stalinists, with a definite majority from groups including the CPB, Socialist Action, the Greek Communist Party and the CPGB-ML - the last of which was distributing a leaflet saying "Hands off Libya! Victory to Qaddafi!"

This was, at least, more coherent than the SWP's oxymoronic line of "No to intervention in Libya! Victory to the Arab revolutions!" I saw a Counterfire activist with a placard listing the anti-working class policies of the UK government and stating our need for regime change here - as if that solves the problem of what socialists should say about Libya... Meanwhile Chris Nineham of Counterfire was leading the chanting: "Hands off Libya!"

Sometimes socialists need to swim against the stream of public, and even working-class, opinion. But this demonstration was small for good reason - that most left-wing people are not comfortable with protests which are de facto pro-Qaddafi (and at which, in fact, straightforwardly pro-Qaddafi forces can dominate).

Interestingly, there were almost no Arab (or other Muslim) people present. Meanwhile Libyan and other Arab activists continue to protest at the Libyan embassy.

AWL members attended and distributed our leaflet "No illusions in West but 'anti-intervention' opposition is abandoning rebels". We had some useful discussions with people who attended because they are sympathetic to Stop the War, but are uncomfortable with its position on Libya.