Although little was agreed upon in yesterday’s debate on Aleppo with regards to a no-fly zone, one thing the Foreign Secretary did suggest was that the public stage mass protests outside the Russian embassy. What’s more, Boris Johnson queried just why the Stop the War coalition had failed to do this as of yet. So, why has the anti-war group — formerly chaired by Jeremy Corbyn — refrained from getting out on the streets to protest Russia’s actions in Syria?
Well, because they are not the West — obviously. Although the group — which one compared Assad to Churchill, and defended Russia’s invasion of Georgia — were very active in opposing Britain’s plans for air strikes on Syria, this morning its vice chair Chris Nineham appeared on Today to explain why they felt no urge to do the same after Russian planes dropped bombs that destroyed a UN aid convoy:
CN: If they want to organise a protest they should.
SM: But is it one you would go on? Is it one you would support?
CN: No, and the reason for that is that our focus is on what our government is doing, because we can make a difference to what Britain does and we can make a difference to what our allies do and we have done to a certain extent. If we have a protest outside the Russian embassy it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to Putin and it would also actually increase the hysteria and jingoism that is being whipped up at the moment against Russia.
SM: So you would urge people not to demonstrate?
CN: We do not want to contribute to the jingoism and hysteria that is being whipped up against Russia because that hysteria is being used to try to justify an escalation of the British war effort.
SM: Why are you so worried about people being opposed to Russia?
CN: We’re not worried about it but what we’re saying is there is a hysteria that is being whipped up by politicians and the media to portray Russia as the only problem in Syria.
SM: Russia makes it clear itself what it does in Syria. You heard the Foreign Secretary yesterday saying it should be investigated for war crimes for the attack on the aid convoy. Do you think it should be?
CN: The real problem here is you have people who regard themselves as sensible politicians like Andrew Mitchell and John Woodcock and Boris Johnson to a lesser extent, who are seriously saying that what Syria needs is more western bombs. This is gross irresponsibility. The possibility now presents itself of there being a confrontation for the first time since the world war between Russian and western powers. Everyone who has got a sense of duty for the peace of the planet needs to mobilise everything they can against that and that means opposing the West.’
Mr S suspects ‘opposing the West’ and stopping war doesn’t always go hand in hand.