Dead Men Left

Monday, May 24, 2004

Quite a good week, all told. After days of badgering and stoating, finally cracked LSE Conferences and the London Civic Forum: they allowed a Respect candidate onto the hustings here to answer a few questions. After we discovered last week that all the main parties plus the Christian People's Alliance were to be allowed a platform, a few of us got the word out and were pleasantly surprised at the response. Conferences offered persistently rather awful excuses for Lindsey German's exclusion from proceedings, ranging from an outright untruth about only inviting candidates with GLA members in every constituency, to suggesting that inviting Respect meant they would also have to invite the BNP. All rather pathetic; but despite large numbers of emails from LSE staff and students, plus the occasional phone-call, they would not budge. It was only after issuing a leaflet detailling Respect's exclusion, the early departure of two candidates and meeting Conference's pig-headedness with our own that they backed down. At the very least, we created a bit of a scene, and I don't doubt we picked up a vote or two.

The CPA event on Friday was sufficiently shoved in a favourable direction as to have lost its pro-occupation sting: Kaldor kancelled, the organisers allowed a statement of protest to be read, and the hooded figure outside the Old Building with the protestors was an effective symbolic presence. The Haselock issue opened a can of worms: as one comrade here suggested, in the absence of a unified national liberation movement issuing calls to boycott occupation figures (as the ANC did with apartheid officials), we would have been acting precipitately to attempt our own boycott. As it was, Haselock obtained an LSE platform somewhat under duress: the protestors, the statement, and the hostile audience all served to undermine his attempt to speak from the "legitimate" government of Iraq. The situation illustrated the extent to which all those protesting against the occupation are necessarily taking their cue from whatever resistance emerges in Iraq: and that this occurs whether we admit it or not. This is quite reversed from pre-invasion times, when the initiative was entirely on the anti-war movement to prevent their government launching a war.