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Left opinion shifts against Libyan intervention

Two organisations today came out against military intervention in Libya, perhaps indicating that opinion amongst Labour MPs is not representative of the Labour movement as a whole. Unite, the biggest union in the UK, has today called for a halt to the air attacks on Libya and an immediate ceasefire, saying that the intervention is a mistake and will provoke a lengthened civil conflict. In addition, Welsh Labour Grassroots which – uniquely amongst the British nations  and regions — covers the Left spectrum from Compass and the traditional Left through to the LRC also opposes military intervention and disagrees with the support given to it by the Labour front bench.

Unite goes on to say:

While holding no brief for Colonel Gaddafi and his regime, and strongly supporting the movements now developing for democracy and freedom across the Arab world, Unite believes the present military intervention is a mistake because:

  • It risks killing Libyan civilians while doing nothing to end hostilities on the ground.
  • It prolongs a civil conflict when what is needed is a ceasefire followed by mediation.
  • It raises the possibility of escalation leading to military occupation of all or part of Libya, when similar occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown how disastrous and counter-productive such interventions are. This could lead to a wider war in the region.
  • The action has little or no Arab involvement, and is opposed by, amongst others, Russia, China and India, leaving it dependent on those western powers whose policies have aroused deep hostility throughout the Middle East.
  • It stands in contrast to the indulgence shown by the government to the autocrats in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who have been allowed to repress movements for democracy in their own countries with impunity.

We urge the British government to think again, call a halt to the military action and urge a general ceasefire to be followed by international mediation.”

Welsh Labour Grassroots says

Whilst appreciating that many comrades felt genuinely moved by the possibility of a humanitarian disaster, we believe it has become clearer day by day that Western military intervention in Libya was a serious mistake and we believe that the Parliamentary Labour Party and party leadership should now dissociate itself from the ongoing activities of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

Although we strongly support the progressive Arab struggles, including the struggle of the Palestinian people, we believe that intervention is not a sign of the West’s concern for human rights in the Middle East or North Africa; indeed, as intervention was getting underway in Libya, the West’s key ally and surrogate, Saudi Arabia, was being invited into Bahrain to help the regime there clamp down on pro-democracy protestors.

The West was caught off guard by the popular uprisings in North Africa – until recently Britain was selling arms to Libya – and intervention in Libya is its attempt to regain influence and safeguard its access to oil.

The Government claims to be defending Libyan civilians. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were also carried out in the name of human rights and democracy but have costs the lives of thousands of civilians. Western intervention will not help the people of Libya. The object is to try to manipulate and control the anti-Gaddafi forces, which would result in the Libyan and other Arab democratic revolutions being discredited and channelled in a way that serves Western interests.

It is obscene that, when public services are being destroyed and public sector workers are facing the sack, the Con-Dem coalition can find the money for yet another Middle-Eastern military adventure.

We note the increasingly robust view of a growing number of UN Security Council members – including at least one permanent member – that, whatever the original intentions behind Resolution 1973, the French, British and US governments have produced such tortuous misinterpretations of its mandate that, as with Iraq, the credibility of the Security Council has been seriously undermined.

In any event, the lack of clearly defined objectives, leadership, rules of engagement and an exit strategy put at risk the lives not only of Libyan civilians, but also those of service men and women.

We will communicate these sentiments to Welsh Labour MPs, Welsh CLPs and within the peace movement, as part of our efforts to build the opposition to the military action.

One Comment

  1. Gary Elsby says:

    ‘indicating that opinion amongst Labour MPs is not representative of the Labour movement as a whole.’

    Quite right John.
    There are 100,000 of us who walked out of Labour and I’m one of them.

    My instant thoughts of bombing a house in Tripoli with a Sovereign Leader in it made me believe that the US led intervention in Libya to protect people 600 miles away was nothing to do with anyone 600 miles away.

    For Labour MPs to back that particular action which was so obvious to anyone watching, was nothing short of careless.

    With ease, the most fragile of Labour MPs should have got up and shouted NO! That is not what this is about.

    I’m glad I shouted up first and I was right then and right now.

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