- Reasons to be cheerful
- BNP gears up for elections
- Not in our name
- Back to the church
Reasons to be cheerful
Not everyone views the prospect of civilian casualties in any assault on Baghdad as bad news.
Leading UK shares rose 1.5% after reports that US forces are closing in on Baghdad. European shares also rose. Reports that US forces were attacking Iraqi Republican Guard positions in the outskirts of Baghdad after intense air strikes dispelled recent gloom about the war effort.
Renewed speculation about the health of the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, who has not
been seen for days, also boosted the markets.
BNP gears up for elections
The BNP (British National Party) is to field up to 220 candidates at next month's local elections - three times as many as last year,particularly targetting asylum seekers.
They are standing in 13 out of the 15 wards in Burnley, Lancashire, where they won three seats last year. The BNP's chairman, Nick Griffin, will stand in one of 13 wards in Oldham, where he won more than 16% of the vote in the general election. Five candidates will stand in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, where the party won a council
byelection in January.
The BNP will also field eight candidates in Bradford, and more than 20 in Sunderland, where a 28-year-old Iranian asylum seeker was
murdered last summer.
The party is also contesting selected seats in Kent, including one in Dover - point of entry for many asylum seekers - the Medway towns and
Thanet. The venture into the home counties also includes Reigate and Guildford in Surrey, Southend and Basildon in Essex, Broxbourne in
Hertfordshire and Bedford.
The party's manifesto says BNP councillors "will do everything in their power to prevent asylum seekers from being dumped in our areas". Including presumably inciting murderous hatred.
Not in our name
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament made a cryptic press statement on 28 March "to clarify CND's role within the anti-war movement and
its relationship with the Stop the War Coalition".
The statement actually says no more than that CND has organised joint activities with STW, will organise more, but retains its own identity.
According to the strongly anti-war Independent on Sunday (30 March), "tensions have arisen... over Stop the War Coalition's decision to
link the marches to the conflict over Palestine".
CND has its own fish to fry, and it may well be that it objects just as much to STW's creditable attempts to encourage trade-union and
student walkouts against the war.
However, on Palestine it has a case. The slogan "Freedom for Palestine" was added to the 28 September and 15 February demonstrations, alongside "Stop the war", at the behest of the Muslim Association of Britain (British wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest, biggest, richest and canniest Islamic fundamentalist party in
the Arab world). What the Brotherhood means by "Freedom for Palestine" is an Islamic state from the Jordan to the sea. To tie the anti-war movement to such slogans is to narrow it down, and in particular to push away Jews.
See www.cnduk.org /PRESS/latest.htm
Back to the church
If you are a regular reader of Solidarity, you may remember the incident on 21 September last year when our contributor Sean Matgamna
was barred from the platform of a political meeting in Leeds, on Marxism and religion, to which he had been invited to speak.
The exclusion had been requested by another platform speaker, Mike Marqusee, former press officer of the Stop The War Coalition, on grounds of our views on Israel. It was carried through by the meeting organiser, Ray Gaston. Gaston is an Anglican vicar in Leeds and was then a recent recruit to the CPGB (Weekly Worker); the CPGB's national organiser, Mark Fischer, and main writer, John Bridge, worked with him on the exclusion, and Bridge took the spot left
vacant on the platform.
If you are a regular reader of the Weekly Worker, you will certainly remember the incident, because its pages carried torrents of words for months afterwards denouncing any complaint by us about the exclusion as "a provocation against the CPGB".
Despite those torrents to justify the exclusion after the event (the key arguments being that Marqusee was a "star draw", or in any case
had been invited first), it is unlikely that the CPGB leaders planned it in advance. Rather, Gaston took what he thought was the line of
least resistance when Marqusee got stroppy, the CPGB leaders went along with their new ecclesiastical recruit rather than explain to
him the principles involved, and then they wanted to cover their tracks.
In short, opportunism. But does opportunism work? Not for long, it seems. Ray Gaston, a victim of the unprincipled politics of the "CPGB", has now quit the CPGB and gone back to full-hearted and exclusive adherence to God and the Anglican church.