Newcastle Stop the War Coaltion hosted a meeting in Newcastle Stop the War on Gaza on Thursday November 16th, 2023. Invited speakers were Mick Bowman, Newcastle PSC activist speaking from the West Bank in Palestine by web link, Ellie Arman Azoulay - A cultural historian at Newcastle university, Eman Al-Assah Palestinian PHD Researcher in post colonial studies and Alex Snowdon, PSC Executive member. Pam Wortley read a message from Lindsey German Convenor of Stop the War. The meeting was Chaired by Roger Nettleship Chair of NSW. Some 70 people took part in the meeting which condemned Israel's barborous crimes in Gaza as well as in the West bank. The meeting condemned the political, military and economic support given to Israel by the US and Britain to the massacres of the population of Gaza. Britain alongside the US is complicit in war crimes being committed against the Palestinian people using the unjustifiable claim that Israel has a right to "defending itself" and claiming that the Palestinians have no right to resist the continued attacks on their existence and right to be in their own territory over many decades. The speakers represented both the Palestinian people and Jewish people at the meeting and together everyone demanded an immediate ceasefire to stop the Israeli massacres of civilians, destruction of their homes, hospitals and towns making 1.5 million people homeless. The call from the meeting was to continue to build the mass movement for an immediate ceasefire and to also demand that the US and British warmongers be brought to account alongside the Israeli state for their crimes against humanity.
March and Rally in South Tyneside
On Saturday November 4 in South Shields the Muslim Community organised a powerful demonstration that showed that South Tyneside stands with Palestine and calling on Britain to support a ceasefire. South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition went all out to support this initiaitve which was part of a national campaign this week to have protests in every town and city. This was a powerful message to break the silence of British media that helps justify the ongoing criminal Israeli war on the Gazan people in Palestine. The main message of the day was that Britain should demand an immediate ceasefire and end their complicity directly and indirectly in war crimes against the Palestinian people. On the same day a large demonstration and rally took place in Newcastle, with rallies and protests in Sunderland and Durham. The following day a big march and rally took place in Middlesborough.March and Rallies for Palestine in Newcastle
Speech of Roger Nettleship at the South Shields rally: STWC Speech at Rally
Channel S (Sky 177) News report: Channel S News
On Saturday October 28 Newcastle Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised its fourth action to stand with the Palestinian people. This was the largest and first demonstration. Thousands marched from the Civic Centre to the Monument. This followed the emergency rally which had taken place on Monday October 9th at the Monument. Then another rally at the Monument on Saturday October 14th attended by hundreds followed by a rally at the BBC HQ in Newcastle the following Saturday when at the same time hundreds of thousands gathered in London on October 21 with protests across Britain and worldwide. Newcastle Stop the War has also been taking part in these actions with activists joining activists in the NPSC to help organise these events and enable thousands to express their solidarty with the Palestinan people and their resistance to the genocidal crimes of the Israeli state. Many Jewish people have also joined these protests to demand that Israel stop the bomnbing of Gaza and demand an immediate ceasefire.
Pam Wortley from Newcastle Stop the War has spoken at these events. The following is the very well received speech she gave at Newcastle Monument Rallly on Saturday October 28 following the demonstration:
NSW Speech at the Rally
Newcastle Conference Report
The World At War
& The Movement For Peace
A Trade Union Issue
On Saturday May 20, Newcastle Stop the War held a conference to discuss the vital importance of involving workers and their trade unions in building the movement against war and for peace in Britain. The conference was organised by Newcastle Stop the War and supported by Newcastle Trade Union Council, the NEU Northern Region and South Tyneside Trade Union Council.Session 1 - Russia, NATO and the Proxy War in Ukraine
The conference started with the session on Russia, NATO and the Proxy War in Ukraine. Introduced by the Vice Chair of Newcastle Stop the Wear Pam Wortley this was the longest session of the conference. Andrew Murray, Vice President of Stop the War spoke at length and said the important thing was the aim for the peace movement, because people are bound to have all kinds of views with all the disinformation but want to unite against Britain and NATO escalating this war. He also kept emphasising that the aim of Stop the War now was to demand that the British government and the oppostion support a ceasefire and negotiations to end the war with "security for all, security arrangements that don't just depend on the expansion of NATO because if security is not for everyone, it is not for anyone." He said that this was the stand of the majority of countries in the world and especially China and the global south including Iran and Saudi Arabia. "Only in British politics", he concluded, "is a ceasefire a dirty word. We have to challenge that and say that the dirty word is actually nuclear annihilation. Now is the time to be pushing for peace and demanding that the British government stop its reckless escalation of this war. Its reckless promotion of continuing the conflict and get on the side of peace." The discussion continued on and around these important issues for the working class and trade union movement till lunch time.
In the first afternoon session Graham Kirkwood chaired and introduced the session on the Lucas Plan and the Alternative to Arms Spending. Martin Levy, President of the Newcastle Trades Union Council spoke on the Lucas plan. He said that in 1976 the Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Stewards produced and alternative corporate plan. The division employed 18,000 as the company was announcing huge job losses. 150 product ideas came up from the workforce from medical equipment to alternative energy technologies, including energy conservation showing that the workers were ahead of the times, Martin emphasised. This movement quickly spread to Northern Shipbuilding and war industries, that at that time were in decline. Martin concluded that there "needs to be a new drive for general and comprehensive disarmament, beginning with the elimination of nuclear weapons" and rejection of imperialism and NATO and a just transition for all workers in carbon and defense industries that involves the workers in making these decisions. Adding to the talk of Martin, Roger Nettleship, Chair of Newcastle Stop the War and Vice President of South Tyneside Trade Union Council spoke on Britain today as the wars workshop of the world. He oulined how the armanents industry was now the largest manufacturing industry in Brtain not for defence but for arming the wars of the world including the government's continued escalation of the war in Ukraine. He pointed out that the government safeguards the war industry by owning "golden shares", whilst they have no concern for the car industry, or the thousands of jobs and other industries and especially no concern for public services. He conluded by saying that only the working class and people can save the day and that the Lucas plan was that kind of inspiration today for a political economy that is anti-war and pro-social and he looked forward to the two Trades Councils working towards this goal. In the discussion that followed Climate Change was also highlighted as one of the consequences of the war industries and wars.
In the final session, The Bloody Legacy of the "War on Terror" was chaired by Roger Nettleship. Alex Snowdon,spoke on behalf of the NEU Northern Region. He highlighted things he thought were important for us in the trade union movement. He said you have to look at the 100,000s of people killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the growth of terrorism after those invasions and occupations. He said it was supposedly, about ending terrorism but it led to the growth of IS and civil wars in these countries and the refugee crisis . These are the legacies of the bloody "War on Terror". Alex emphasised the opposition to those wars "which created a strong body of anti-war public opinion and we created over time through the movement we built that influenced the public debate." and he pointed out that people were now highly sceptical about interventions by US/UK and their allies and we saw a sea change in the trade unions. Today, he said we need to articulate the arguments of the anti-war movement and open up the space even if we don't win the motions, opposing NATO, opposing increased arms spending, etc. We need to link the cost of living crisis, cutting school budgets which is a direct result of their spending on arms and their wars.
Speaking about legacy of the US 20 year war in Afghanistan, Syed Ullah, Newcastle Stop the War higlighted the recent negotiations between the Taliban and British and US from 2019 which lasted two years and no British and Americans were killed, which was good - but more that 50,000 Afgans were killed and injured at the same time. He said that the life of an Afghan was not considered anywhere. He said that the negotiations were not with the Afghan people but between the Taliban and the US. He pointed out that over the last 4 years Afghans were displaced over and over again from their homeland. The US used Afghanistan to test its armaments and he described the dire economic and welfare situation and the corruption that was spread by the US NATO so that only a small amount of so-called aid was getting to the people in the country. Now western countries refuse to recognise Afghanistan and sanctions are imposed so the Taliban relies on funding from the US, so he said, the US is still in control. That does not benefit the freedom of women, or the people, as the only agreement is that the Taliban do not attack the US. He concluded that Afghanistan needs to be brought back into the mainstream and there needs to be positive negotiations with the people in Afghanistan.
Shadia Edwards-Dashti then spoke on the history of Islamophobia and racism connected with legacy of the "War on Terror." Shadia said that twenty years on Britain is a place where Islamophobia and racism is still full on, and rife. The "war on terror abused the principles on which law was founded by creating more and more laws to crush our communites". She said that the war on terror became a war of terror, not just in Iraq but right here in the United Kngdom. At the same time, she characterised this as an idealogical war against the people. She concluded that this ideolocal war on terror has made everyone a target and everyone pay the price, even when she was a 10 year old child.
In summing up the conference, the Chair thanked the speakers and those that had attended and the planning committee that had organised the event. He said that it was very important that we had itemised and taken a stand on the questions and the discussion that needed to be taken up in the trade union movement. Also, our work for the conference had reached out to all these circles in the trade union movement and that will have an impact as well. But we need to take up theses questions and disinformation imposed on the trade union and working class movement. There was a suggestion that we produce a leaflet for the movement that elaborate the points we have discussed. Discussed here was the link between their proxy war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis and cuts to health care, education and social and public services. The link of their wars to racist policies here and the fact that workers need to draw conclusions from the fact that they if they don't believe their lies here why would they believe their lies about their wars abroad. We had also discussed the need for future actions on the streets opposing Britain's escalation of the Ukraine war alongside the US and other NATO powers and everyone was welcome to join us in planning and implementing that work. The conference was then brought to a successful conclusion.
Chaired by Pam Wortley, Vice Chair Newcastle Stop the War
Speech by: Andrew Murray, Vice President Stop the War - MP3 audio file
Session 2 - The Lucas Plan and the Alternative to Arms Spending
Chaired by Graham Kirkwood, Newcastle Stop the War
Speech by Martin Levy, President of Newcastle Trade Union Council - MP3 audio file
Link to Talk Document with added resources so people can read further PDF File
Speech by Roger Nettleship, Vice President South Tyneside Trade Union Council MP3 audio file
Session 3 - The Bloody Legacy of the "War on Terror"
Chaired by Roger Nettleship, Chair Newcastle Stop the War
Speech by Alex Snowdon, President of the NEU Northern Region
Syed Ullah, from Afghanistan and Newcastle Stop the War
Shadia Edwards-Dashti, Officer of Stop the War
MP3 audio file of the three speeches
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Newcastle demonstration against the invasion of Afghanistan, October 2001
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