In 2003 a very large demonstration weaved it's way through the streets of London calling on the then Labour Government not to go to "war" in Iraq. This was organised by an organisation called the Stop the War Campaign (StWC) set up and organised by the Socialist Workers Party and it's allies.
Ten years on with the Iraq war long over, the StWC is still going albeit under "new(ish)" Management. In that time the attempts by the SWP, George Galloway and his Respect Party to build a far left movement on the backs of pacifist sentiments have not only failed but turned the campaign itself into something other than what most ordinary people who marched that day would ever imagine would come out of it.
Ten years ago Lyndsey German, the "Convener" of the StWC was a leading member of the SWP along with her partner John Rees. The SWP in alliance with Galloway joined forces to build a party which turned out to be specifically targeted at the Muslim community with "leadership" provided by mainly "white" revolutionaries and their like. It didn't last all that long despite Galloway becoming an MP and 12 councillors being elected (for a short while) in Tower Hamlets. They split in rather an acrimonious fashion with George Galloway and his supporters complaining of "control freakery" by the SWP.
Frankly given that most of these people had some experience of the far left, and the SWP in particular this should have come as no surprise. Even Mark Serwotka, the PCS General Secretary became embroiled in the fallout attacking what he called "witch hunting" by Galloway & co.
The SWP left Respect, then had a massive internal falling out themselves as they all attempted to attribute blame on each other which resulted in German and Rees leaving the SWP and setting up their own group Counterfire. Other members left in droves according to most accounts leaving the largest far left organisation even smaller than it was to start with.
The Stop the War Campaign continued, well beyond the event that prompted its foundation and has only popped its head above the parapets to oppose the "war" in Gaza (though notably has never criticised terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians).
Why no campaign against Assad?
The big conflict that has been continuing recently is Syria. One could well ask where the anti-war comrades are. Not a peep out of them against the attacks on civilians by President Assad and his armed forces. The fact that John Rees works for the Iranian Government run Press TV channel might have something to do with it.
The Iranian clerical fascists are backing the Syrian Government. Opposing that war might be a little uncomfortable for some of the StWC comrades.
On February 9th the StWC are having an anniversary conference to discuss the outcome of the Iraq war. Frankly if they did what they said on their label they would be better spending their time picketing the Iranian and Russian embassies demanding an end to these regimes support for Assad.
Not going to happen though. They are selective about which "wars" they want to stop.
Trade unions like my own (PCS) should now seriously consider stopping their affiliation fees to the StWC. The organisation is no longer fit for purpose and probably never was.