Keir Starmer: Putin down his people (sorry – I couldn’t resist the pun).
People across Russia who have stood up in protest against their country’s invasion of Ukraine are winning praise from politicians in the UK and across the world.
What a stark contrast with the reaction of – for example – UK Labour leader Keir Starmer, who has forced 11 of his MPs to withdraw their protest against the war under threat of losing the party whip!
Here is video evidence of some of the protests in Russia, as citizens there exercised their right to free speech:
All of these protests if they took place in the UK, would soon be illegal under the Tory government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts legislation that is currently working its way through Parliament.
And it seems Labour’s current leadership tacitly supports such suppression; here’s how Starmer reacted to his MPs’ exercise of their right to free speech:
Yes, it seems he demanded that they withdraw their signatures from a statement by the Stop the War Coalition, condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The statement itself is straightforward:
“This dispute could and should be resolved peacefully, and that remains the only basis for a lasting settlement, rather than the imposition of military solutions. That it has not been resolved is not, however, the responsibility of the Russian or Ukrainian governments alone.
“The conflict is the product of thirty years of failed policies, including the expansion of NATO and US hegemony at the expense of other countries as well as major wars of aggression by the USA, Britain and other NATO powers which have undermined international law and the United Nations.
“The British government has played a provocative role in the present crisis, talking up war, decrying diplomacy as appeasement and escalating arms supplies and military deployments to Eastern Europe.
“If there is to be a return to diplomacy, as there should be, the British government should pledge to oppose any further eastward expansion of NATO and should encourage a return to the Minsk-2 agreement, already signed by both sides, by all parties as a basis for ending the crisis in relations between Ukraine and Russia.
“Beyond that, there now needs to be a unified effort to develop pan-European security arrangements which meet the needs of all states, something that should have been done when the Warsaw Pact was wound up at the end of the Cold War. The alternative is endless great power conflict with all the attendant waste of resources and danger of bloodshed and destruction.
“We send our solidarity to all those campaigning for an end to the war, often under very difficult conditions, in Russia and Ukraine. Stop the War can best support them by demanding a change in Britain’s own policy, which can be seen to have failed.”
Stop the War expanded on this in a message to followers:
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine overnight is a massive escalation in the conflict there. Stop the War is calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops and for an immediate ceasefire. Our statement is here and our resolution for union branches/CLPs here.
“The danger of war involving nuclear weapons is more real than previously and must be opposed. The real losers will be the ordinary people of Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of Europe.
“We should, however, take no lessons in peacemaking from our own government and its allies. They have brought us decades of escalating wars, each of which has been a failure. They have encouraged a growing arms race internationally. And they have set on a path of Nato expansion which has brought the military alliance to the borders of Russia, in contravention of agreements made at the end of the Cold War.
“Nato is not a defensive alliance but an aggressive one, centrally involved in wars in Afghanistan, Libya and Yugoslavia, and engaged in more and more ‘out of area operations’ including in the Indo-Pacific.
“Our government wants to hide its domestic problems behind its belligerent statements, and we can be certain that this will continue, at the same time that it will provide unlimited money for war but increase student loan repayments and cut the NHS.
“There is a surge or argument in favour of greater sanctions, including from those who purport to be anti war. But sanctions are not an alternative to war – they are economic warfare and therefore a prelude to war. We have seen this in Iraq where all they did was bring war closer, at the same time as bringing real suffering to the people of Iraq.
“As an anti-war and peace movement, our first priority is to stop war. This conflict has not developed in the last few weeks alone, but reflects a society where war is being turned to increasingly to solve other problems. However, we are also aware that this is a different situation from previous wars where our government has been directly involved in military action, and we need to do as much as we can to explain and discuss the issues with those around us.
“We are asking our members, supporters, groups and affiliates to do the following:
- Make sure our statement and resolution are disseminated as widely as possible.
- Do everything to publicise and support our international meeting on Saturday 26th February and our in person rally on Wednesday 2nd March in Conway Hall, London.
- Hold urgent meetings in all localities – in person where possible – calling for withdrawal of Russian troops, ceasefire now and against Nato expansion.
- Attend the demos and actions in support of the NHS with placards linking cuts in public spending with money for war- you can download and print our new placard design from our website.
- Prepare for a day of action (tba) where we hold protests and vigils against the war.
“Please contact the office for materials and more information, and for speakers.
“Due to the high volume of traffic we are currently experiencing, we apologise for any difficulties you may encounter whilst trying to access our website today; please keep refreshing or try again later.”
This Writer leans toward the belief that Starmer – who only recently and loudly announced his support for Nato as Labour’s current policy (not that it ever changed from that) – has been incensed by the support of opposition to the organisation by Labour backbenchers.
So he did what bullies do – he threatened them with reprisals.
And to their shame, they caved in:
At a time of blatant hypocrisy by many western leaders, this is extraordinary – for reasons that seem clear:
And he drew comparisons between himself and Russian president Vladimir Putin in an ironic but entirely appropriate unintended consequence:
Damo expands on this in a well-argued ‘rant’ that critics of the Stop the War 11 should consider with care:
And what of Starmer himself? Having signalled a direction of travel, will he follow it through?
And how will this play out in the United Kingdom at large?
Well, with a by-election set to take place in Erdington, Birmingham on March 3, we shouldn’t have long to wait. And people are already making their wishes clear:
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