Friday 21 March 2003

Redeem this day of shame

The assault on Iraq which began yesterday is a war the British people do not want. Never before, at least since public opinion first became a serious political consideration, has this country gone to war with only a minority of the population in support.

Tens of thousands across the country drove that point home yesterday, in the biggest ever display of coordinated civil disobedience on the streets of our towns and cities. Many more will march for peace in London tomorrow. Tony Blair's appeal for national support for the war effort is already falling on deaf ears.

Despite the government's efforts over the past few days to re-spin the attack on Iraq as if it were now supported by a new national consensus, the anti-war movement - unprecedented in its scope and representativeness - is clear: we cannot and will not support this war.

The logic is simple. If it is right to oppose a crime when it is being publicly contemplated, how much more important is it to do so when it is in the process of commission. It is not those who oppose the war who need to justify themselves, but those Labour MPs who assured their local parties as recently as last weekend that they would never support war without UN authority, only to do just that days later.

Ministers will, of course, play on the sympathy of many people for British troops. Yet the fact remains that they are not fighting in the interests of the British people, nor on behalf of any international community, but for a reactionary and dangerous US administration to which Tony Blair has subordinated our country.

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