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MODEL AMENDMENT TO
BRITAIN IN THE WORLD
PARTNERSHIP IN POWER DRAFT
FINAL YEAR DOCUMENT

Constituency Labour Party amendments to Partnership in Power policy documents - amendment to "Britain in the World".

Before 20th June your CLP is entitled to suggest amendments to the draft Partnership in Power policy documents.

The procedure to do so is set out in a document sent to Constituency Labour Parties by the national Labour Party on 2nd May.

CLP secretaries are required to make the submission through the Membersnet section of the Labour Party website.

This is an opportunity to change policy on Iraq and Afghanistan. LAtW suggest the following amendment to the document "Britain in the World" below.

All documents are available of the Labour Party website http://members.labour.org.uk/ , if you have difficulty accessing them email LAtW at: latw@gn.apc.org and we will send a copy by return.

There are no limits to the number of amendments that a CLP can submit, but there is not much time until the deadline of Friday 20th June 2008.

AMENDMENT TO BRITAIN IN THE WORLD POLICY DOCUMENT

Delete from Line 25 (p.16), "British troops are currently on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,…". to Line 45 (p.17) ending, "Between 2009 and 2012 we will provide £450 million in development and stabilisation assistance", and replace with:

Iraq
The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 has not resulted in victory. Neither has it established a stable democracy. Five years since the invasion British troops are now largely confined to a single base at Basra International Airport.

Every single war aim has been shown to have completely failed.

British troops remain the target of Iraqi insurgents but perform no useful function; therefore all British troops should be withdrawn from Iraq immediately. We must promote an international peacekeeping force acceptable to the Iraqi people and support the right of the Iraqi people to determine their own future, free from international interference and from the debts of the former regime, which should be cancelled. Iraq should retain full territorial sovereignty over its borders and economic sovereignty over its resources.

Afghanistan
The events of 9/11 were a dividing line in world politics. The swift revenge of the US against Afghanistan in 2001 has not resulted in victory over the Taliban, and neither has it established a stable democracy. More than six years since the invasion the Taliban have regrouped and now are back in control of the south. Opium production continues unabated. British casualties are growing along with the uncounted Afghani dead. We must withdraw all British troops from Afghanistan and must promote an international peacekeeping force acceptable to the Afghani people. We must support the right of the Afghani people to determine their own future, free from international interference.

___________________________________________________________

The consultation period for CLPs closes on Friday 20th June 2008.

LAtW are also recommending that CLPs support the LCND amendments on the nuclear weapons proliferation, see below:

Suggested amendment to Britain in the World: Delete from Line 29 (p.18) "We are committed" to end of Line 43 "the safety of its citizens" and then replace with:

"Article 6 of nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty demands that the present nuclear powers should pursue global nuclear disarmament. Labour believes that Britain should therefore support the draft nuclear weapons convention lodged with the United Nations, designed to ban all nuclear weapons, and that Britain should mount a series of diplomatic initiatives for global nuclear disarmament. We are opposed to nuclear weapons proliferation and therefore the Trident nuclear weapons system will not be replaced.
Labour believes the United States Missile Defence system further undermines non-proliferation efforts and represents a major threat to global security. Labour opposes the extension of this system to Poland and the Czech Republic and will rescind its permission to use bases in Britain for this purpose."


YOUR CHANCE TO INFLUENCE LABOUR PARTY POLICY - GET YOUR SUBMISSION IN NOW!

For years Labour Party members have looked to Annual Conference as the policy-making body of our Party. Since last year, though the Conference still exists as a rally of the Labour Party, it is now the National Policy Forum (NPF) that takes forward policy development.

There are pluses and minuses to this change. On the minus side the loss of policy-making means a lack of focus to our Conference, clearly this is a setback. On the plus side, all members, Party units and affiliates can join in - even non-members can have their say.

To catch up with the new details about how the Labour Party makes policy go to: http://www.labour.org.uk/policy_making

The introduction to the Britain in the World policy consultation document states that it "deals with issues relating to foreign policy, defence and international development. The commission is responsible for engaging with the party on these policy issues, looking at how we address future challenges in these areas and building a dialogue with party stakeholders.
The work of the commission has focused on a range of issues including: how Labour can take forward its efforts to tackle global poverty and promote social justice, how we can work for peace and security in an increasingly uncertain world and how we can engage with and promote reform in Europe."

The whole Britain in the World policy commission can be seen at: http://www.labour.org.uk/images/uploads/200050/02bcad59-4833-1cb4-1d15-f3cb83281e61.pdf

Open consultation can be an important part of a democracy but only if it is done in a meaningful way. So let us take up this invitation and let Labour Party policy makers see the strength of feeling. Therefore LAtW is calling upon all its supporters to submit a personal response to the consultation. LAtW has produced a model response (see below). Please feel free to use it or to make your own.

In addition you could take your submission to your Branch Labour Party; your Constituency Labour Party GC; your trade union branch; your socialist society and/or your Co-operative Party branch. Please send a copy to LAtW (email: latw@gn.apc.org) and to your Labour MP (if you have one).

We have also included a list of the Britain in the World policy commission members, please contact them, if you can, and ask them to support your submission and push for its inclusion in the next draft.

There will be a further opportunity to amend the final documents, details will be sent in due course.

Suggested model response to the Britain in the World consultation
Concentrating on the question: How we can work for peace and security in an increasingly uncertain world? The following points are a suggested model response to the consultation.

Afghanistan
The events of 9/11 were a dividing line in world politics. The swift revenge of the US against Afghanistan in 2001 has not resulted in victory over the Taliban, and neither has it established a stable democracy. More than six years since the invasion the Taliban have regrouped and now are back in control of the south. Opium production continues unabated. British casualties are growing along with the uncounted Afghani dead. We must withdraw all British troops from Afghanistan and must promote an international peacekeeping force acceptable to the Afghani people. We must support the right of the Afghani people to determine their own future, free from international interference.

Iraq
The next target in George W. Bush's sights was Iraq. The invasion in 2003 has not resulted in victory. Neither has it established a stable democracy. Nearly five years since the invasion British troops are now largely confined to a single base at Basra International Airport.

Every single war aim has been shown to have completely failed.

  1. Not a single piece of credible evidence has emerged to support the assertion that Saddam Hussein possessed any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
  2. no links between Saddam Hussein and al Qa'ida have ever been established.
  3. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.
  4. Saddam Hussein did not pose a current or serious threat to Britain or our allies.
  5. Post-Saddam Iraq is not a thriving democracy, it is a dangerous mess with its economy in ruins with billions of frozen dollars and oil revenues spent but unaccounted for.
  6. Britain is continues to be a prime target for terrorist attacks.
British troops remain the target of Iraqi insurgents but perform no useful function; therefore all British troops should be withdrawn from Iraq immediately. We must promote an international peacekeeping force acceptable to the Iraqi people and support the right of the Iraqi people to determine their own future, free from international interference and from the debts of the former regime, which should be cancelled. Iraq should retain full territorial sovereignty over its borders and economic sovereignty over its resources.

Iran
Our Government must be careful not to enflame the current crisis with Iran. We must recognise that sanctions disproportionately affect the lives of ordinary Iranians rather than the actions of the country's leadership. We must pledge not to contribute towards any military strike against Iran.

Palestine
A Labour Government should support a resolution of the Middle East conflict that includes the recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and of the right of refugees to return to a Palestinian state.

WMD
A Labour Government should seek an end to unilateral military intervention in foreign policy and work to end the hypocrisy of requiring other countries to renounce their weapons of mass destruction while retaining Britain's own. We seek a global end to such weapons through a transparent and democratised process.

Arms trade
A Labour Government should end arms sales to brutal regimes and reduce arms sales overall, expanding resources for global conflict prevention and resolution and promoting a defensive defence policy.

Working with the trade unions, a Labour Government should significantly increase investment in research and development for alternative technologies that can use the skills developed by arms manufacturers.

The end-use of arms exports and dual use goods needs to be closely monitored, and the granting of arms export licences and export credits suitably restricted. The activities of the Defence Services Export Organisation, the Government agency that promotes arms exports, should be curtailed, and Government subsidies to arms companies and involvement in Arms Fairs should be withdrawn.

Information should be made available to allow public bodies to disinvest from arms-exporting companies.

International aid and trade
We must recognise that the polices of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have helped to make poor countries poorer, creating food insecurity, conditions for sharp social conflict and a fertile base for anti-western terrorism.

A Labour Government should work for a more equitable international trading system; support the integration of human rights considerations into trade negotiations and work to strengthen the International Labour Organisation to defend workers' rights.

A Labour Government should end the linking of overseas aid to policies of economic liberalisation and privatisation by DfID and immediately raise international aid expenditure to 1% of GDP.

_______________________________

The consultation period for this document closes in February 2008 (exact date unknown).PiP3.britainintheworld@newlabour.org.uk

Or sent by post to:
Britain in the World
The Labour Party
39 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0HA

Membership of the Britain in the World policy commission.
Members of the Policy commission are drawn from the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party, Labour's National Policy Forum (NPF) and the Labour Government.

Co-convenors Email address (where known)
David Miliband MP millibandd@parliament.uk
Ellie Reeves (NEC) elanorreeves@aol.com
Government members  
Des Browne MP browned@parliament.uk
Douglas Alexander MP dalexandermp@talk21.com
Jim Murphy MP jimmurphy2005@hotmail.com
NEC members  
Dianne Hayter  
Debbie Coulter debbie.coulter@gmb.org.uk
NPF members  
Jeannie Drake jdrake@cwu.org
Tony Dubbins tony.dubbins@amicustheunion.org
Richard Howitt MEP richard@richardhowittmep.com
Clare Moody clare.moody@amicustheunion.org
James Valentine  
Nick Forbes  
Lucy Seymour-Smith  
Khalid Mahmood MP mahmoodk@parliament.uk


Facing defeat in Afghanistan

Simon Tisdall, Guardian Unlimited, 31 October 2007
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/simon_tisdall/2007/10/facing_defeat_in_afghanistan.html

Nato troops plunged into a vicious new round of fighting with the Taliban yesterday as hundreds of Afghan civilians fled their homes in villages around Kandahar. The violence, in which about 50 militants reportedly died, again underscored how insecure and ungovernable large tracts of the south and east remain six years after "victory in Kabul". The impact of the continuing bloodshed, said to be the worst since 2001, is being felt far beyond the battlefields of Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan. Simmering tensions between Nato members over "burden-sharing" are bubbling to the surface in Berlin, Washington and London. All agree the alliance's mission is under-resourced and under-funded; none has a ready answer to the problem.

Despite a steady escalation of force levels from about 5,000 in 2003 to more than 40,000 today, the fight grows ever more desperate. The possibility of military failure, previously unthinkable, is now openly discussed. Few deny that Nato's first and biggest operation outside Europe is in trouble. According to a senior European diplomat, the alliance's cohesion and credibility is increasingly on the line.

"We are now in the most difficult phase in Afghanistan," said Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nato secretary-general, in a recent interview with the International Herald Tribune. "If we do not prevail, the consequences ... will be dire." Not only was Afghanistan's future as a democratic, unified state in the balance; so, too, was Europe's security in the face of reviving terrorist threats emanating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Speaking after meeting Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, in London last week, Gordon Brown vowed Afghanistan would "never again" become the failed state used by al-Qaida to plot the 9/11 attacks. But other Nato members seem less certain.

Germany's parliament recently debated pulling out its 3,700 troops; public opinion supports withdrawal. Despite urgent US appeals for Germany, France, Italy and Spain to drop their "caveats" and switch troops from peacekeeping and training to combat duties, there is no sign they will comply. Even Canada, on the Afghan front line from the first, is reviewing its role.

According to the US Council on Foreign Relations, insurgency-related deaths, military and civilian, have topped 5,000 so far this year, up 1,000 on 2006. Suicide bombings and kidnappings targeting civilians are also on the rise. A report by thinktank Chatham House concluded meanwhile that the conflict is becoming "regionalised", involving tribal areas of Pakistan and alleged arms supplies from Iran.

Adding to the gloom, US research suggests the number of Afghans supporting a return to Taliban rule has doubled, to 15%.

Nato's difficulties extend far beyond the Taliban resurgence and burden-sharing disputes. Senior commanders stress military might alone cannot prevail in Afghanistan. But diplomats say the long-term strategy and the inter-agency coordination required to deliver political stability, economic recovery and reliable services are lacking. Nor, despite billions already disbursed, is there nearly enough money.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon recently advocated stronger local leadership, increased international engagement and tighter regional partnerships to help find a way forward. But in a sign of how bad matters have become, the UN was forced this week to plead with the Taliban to stop attacking its food convoys.

The deepening Afghan crisis is encouraging talk of peace, notwithstanding Taliban demands for the unconditional withdrawal of all foreign forces. But according to Professor William Maley, writing in World Today magazine, Mr Karzai's recent offer to negotiate, and reported British-backed efforts to win over "moderate" insurgents, could backfire by inviting greater resistance. Such moves might also encourage rearmament among the Taliban's tribal foes.

Winter will bring a lull in the fighting. But the spring thaw will see the whole bloody cycle begin anew. Unless something drastic happens to break the pattern, this year's Nato fissures may become next year's all-out ruptures. The death toll will mount. And Mr Brown, with 7,700 British troops in the firing line, may find himself trapped between US-dictated strategic imperatives and a growing desire to bring the boys home.


Revealed: how Blair rejected Bush's offer to stay

Andrew Grice, Political Editor, The Independent, 31 October 2007
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/article3112818.ece

Tony Blair turned down a last-minute offer from President George Bush for Britain to stay out of the Iraq war because he thought it would look "pathetic", according to a new book on Mr Blair's tenure.

Mr Bush was warned by the US embassy in London before the crucial Commons vote on the war that the Blair government could be brought down. He was so worried that he picked up the telephone and personally offered the then Prime Minister a surprise opt-out.

Mr Bush's move is revealed in the book Blair Unbound, by Anthony Seldon, Peter Snowdon and Daniel Collings, to be published by Simon & Schuster next Monday. It is bound to heighten criticism of Mr Blair's stance on Iraq.

Nine days before the Commons backed military action, despite a rebellion by 139 Labour MPs, President Bush astonished Condoleezza Rice, who was his National Security Adviser, by suggesting that Britain need not join the invasion and could play a less controversial role during the aftermath.

According to the book, the US embassy in London was sending Washington worrying accounts of Mr Blair's position. "We were talking to backbenchers. What we heard was a fairly strident message that there was only so far that we could go, and the UN was extremely important. We heard some very ominous analyses of what could happen," said one official.

Ms Rice told the book's authors: "I remember standing in the Oval Office, and the President said, 'We can't have the British Government fall because of this decision over war.' I said: 'So what are you saying?' He said, 'I have to tell Tony that he doesn't have to do this.'"

Ms Rice's first thought was to call Sir David Manning, her opposite number in Downing Street, to prepare the ground but Mr Bush judged there was no time. "I'm going to call him right now," he said.

"What I want to say to you is that my last choice is to have your government go down," he told Mr Blair. "We don't want that to happen under any circumstances. I really mean that." If it would help, he would let Mr Blair "drop out of the coalition" and the US would find some other way for Britain to participate. Ms Rice described the conversation as "very emotional" for the President.

Mr Blair replied: "I said I'm with you. I mean it." One confidant explained: "Having taken it so far, backing out seemed to him a rather pathetic thing to do."

The book also claims that Colin Powell, who was Secretary of State, plotted with Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, to persuade Mr Blair to restrain President Bush. But the former prime minister did not stand up to him when the crunch came.

Mr Powell told the authors: "In the end Blair would always support the President. I found this very surprising... Jack [Straw] and I would get him all pumped up about an issue. And he'd be ready to say 'look here, George.' But as soon as he saw the President he would lose his steam."

The book says Mr Blair decided in 2002 to write to the President to express concern that the momentum towards war was growing too fast. But he "faltered and pulled his punches" and in effect told President Bush: "You know, George, whatever you decide to do, I'll be with you."


Opium for the people

AC Grayling. The Guardian 08 October 2007 7:30 PM
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ac_grayling/2007/10/opium_for_the_people.html

If there is a living refutation of the saying, "If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise," it is President Bush. Perhaps it takes no ghost from the grave to tell us this; but his demand that the Kabul government destroy the poppy crop of Afghan tribesmen is a clincher. The aim is to "deprive Taliban of funds" thereby; the result will assuredly be to further alienate the struggling tribesman whose livelihood is destroyed with their crops.

Yet the infinitely better solution is obvious: buy the crop, don't destroy it. Buy it for a generous price, thus simultaneously (a) depriving the Taliban of a money-maker (b) cheering the Afghan tribesmen, and laying the basis for them to diversify economically, away from poppies, when peace comes, (c) get control of the opium supply, use as much as is necessary for medical opiates, and stockpile or burn the rest. In comparison to the billions being spent on bombs, this looks like a comparatively cheap as well as sane and effective way to solve a number of problems in one blow.

But no: Washington's choice is to lay waste the crops and with them the hearts and minds of their growers, adding to the recruitment pool of the Taliban, lengthening the war, costing the world far more in lives, money and misery. Surely there is a statesman somewhere - Gordon Brown? President Sarkozy? - with enough of Washington's ear to urge the better course of action, able to do the sums to show that buying poppies to help stop a war has to be a far cheaper option than using them to commemorate war dead.

In the short term the move would encourage poppy growing, of course, and naysayers will argue that this exacerbates a different problem. This different problem was originally created by outlawing certain kinds of drugs (not nicotine or, save for the criminal-industry-creating folly of Prohibition in the 1920s, alcohol - two of the worst), and there is a powerful case for legalising all drugs and managing their accessibility and quality exactly as nicotine and alcohol are controlled.

The "quality" point is essential. Some years ago the son of an acquaintance of mine died from a massive heroin overdose on the first occasion he experimented with the substance, because he did not know how much to take and did not know that the heroin he had been supplied was particularly potent. If heroin could be bought in Boots it would have a consistent potency and there would be instructions on the box about the right quantity to take; and the boy would be now be alive and a young man.

Why are some drugs illegal? The answer will come that it is because they are bad for people, and that anyway consuming narcotics or hallucinogens is a contemptible resource for finding release or getting a high, for making life more colourful or more bearable. I agree with this latter point, but cannot agree that society has a right to stop people (adult people) from harming themselves if they wish, and if they do not expect the rest of society to clean up after them. By nominating a range of drugs as illegal, society has created a rod for its back; it has potentiated a criminal industry and assumed the vast expense of policing it, thereby creating an equally vast public problem where before there had been personal and medical problems only.

Sights you seldom see include a cabinet meeting waking up to the futility and absurdity of laws that, from gangland shootings in Manchester to the Taliban in Helmand province, create problems we do not have to have.


Posters rewritten as march to parliament gets late go-ahead

Helen Pidd. The Guardian, Tuesday 09 October 2007
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/commons/story/0,,2186674,00.html

When thousands of anti-war campaigners were given the 11th hour go-ahead to march from Whitehall to Westminster yesterday it was a triumph for democratic protest - but a blow for poster design.

"We'd better change our placards," said Pat Sherrin, a 58-year-old housing worker, as the news filtered through the crowd in Trafalgar Square yesterday just half an hour before the rally was due to begin. Out came a Biro to squeeze the word "almost" into her slogan: "The Brown junta has banned this demonstration."

But Ms Sherrin and her friends from the Wandsworth and Lambeth branches of Stop the War said they didn't mind making the artistic sacrifice. After all, the overturning by the authorities of the ban - which invoked a 19th century law against the Chartist protest movement - showed that the protesters had won the battle.

Police estimated the number of protesters at around 2,000, while organisers said it was at least double that. The throng disrupted traffic outside parliament just as the prime minister was due to arrive in the Commons to tell MPs about the latest phase of British troop withdrawal from Iraq. Gordon Brown was driven along adjoining roads to Whitehall to avoid being caught up in the demonstration.

Several MPs took part in the rally, including Tony Benn and George Galloway, the Respect MP currently banned from the Commons after clashing with the Speaker. "Gordon Brown might think that Basra is a photo-opportunity but we know it is a graveyard for millions of innocent Iraqi civilians, whose lives are being ruined by the criminal activity of the British parliament," shouted Mr Galloway.

The comedian Mark Thomas gave a short speech. Had the ban not been revoked, he would have been the only activist legally allowed to protest. The Metropolitan police said yesterday he had applied in advance to protest as an individual. Yesterday he was joined by students, trade unionists, war veterans - and a ferret called Mike. Mike's owner, Jim Lawrie, 51, said: "We're both anti-war because we both like people."

Lindsey German, convener of the Stop The War Coalition, said the group had been told time and again by police in recent days that they could not go ahead with the march, and she claimed the authorities and MPs had underestimated the determination of the anti-war movement.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said police had been in discussion with the event's organisers for some time and used their "best endeavours" to make sure the march could be held.


US plan for air strikes on Iran 'backed by Brown'

By Leonard Doyle in Washington
Independent 02 October 2007
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article3018375.ece

A plan by the Bush administration to launch surgical strikes on Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps has won the support of Gordon Brown, according to a US report, although a presidential "execute order" required for such an operation has yet to be issued.

The report in The New Yorker magazine by the journalist Seymour Hersh states that the White House has concluded that many of its problems in Iraq are the responsibility of Tehran. But rather than conduct an unpopular all-out assault on Iran's nuclear facilities, the US is planning limited air strikes, arguing that they are needed to defend soldiers in Iraq.

The article stated that, "The bombing plan has had its most positive reception from ... Gordon Brown", but this was denied yesterday by some with close ties to the US military. "It is quite the opposite," said Phillip Giraldi a former CIA counterterrorism officer. "In fact Robert Gates [the US Defence Secretary] was rebuffed during his recent visit to London when the idea was floated.

"Because British mine-sweepers based in the Gulf of Hormuz will be essential to any US action against Iran, US war planners need to have Britain on board," he said. "So far that is not forthcoming."

The US has changed its emphasis to counter-terrorism, supported by Pentagon planners wary of earlier plans for an all-out attack on Iran, Hersh writes. The strategy calls for the use of sea-launched cruise missiles and more precisely targeted ground attacks and bombing strikes, "including plans to destroy the most important Revolutionary Guard training camps, supply depots and command-and-control facilities".

Hersh quotes an unnamed senior European as saying that there were four possible responses to Iran-ian activity in Iraq: to do nothing (this would be sending "the wrong signal"); to publicise Iranian actions ("There is one great difficulty with this option - the widespread lack of faith in American intelligence assessments"); to attack the Iranians inside Iraq ("We've been taking action since last December, and it does have an effect."); or, finally, to attack inside Iran.

"The British perception is that the Iranians are not making the progress they want to see in their nuclear-enrichment processing," said the European official.

"All the intelligence community agree that Iran is providing critical assistance, training, and technology to a surprising number of terrorist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, through Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and Israel/Palestine, too."

Earlier this summer, according to Mr Giraldi, the Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice-President Dick Cheney, tasked Strategic Command to draw up a response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the US. "The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons," said Mr Giraldi.

That may now have changed, in part because of opposition within the military. "A number of senior air force officers involved were appalled at the implications of what they were doing ... that Iran was being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack," said Mr Giraldi. None were prepared to object and damage their career, he added.

Hersh maintains that the Bush administration's emphasis on "surgical" strikes reflects a failure to persuade the US public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat.

The White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the US intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. There is also a growing recognition in Washington that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq.


UK TROOPS RETREAT TO BASRA AIRPORT

Basra citizens celebrated on Monday (03/09/07) as the last remaining British troops based inside the city retreated to the airport. The last 550 soldiers based in Basra Palace were evacuated to the relative safety of Basra airport. They leave behind a city beset with rival Shia factions competing for control.

British troop withdrawal, if only to the airport, is another marker in the defeat of coalition troop efforts to bring stability to the country and signals another stage in the British disengagement in the Iraq conflict.

For weeks there has been sniping between UK and US generals about Britain's record in Basra and the withdrawal has provoked new Anglo-US recriminations about the aftermath of the Iraq war. However many military commanders now accept that the occupation itself is a source of the conflict and therefore cannot be part of the solution. There is only one logical step left to take and that is to withdraw all remaining British troops now.

An opinion poll conducted for BBC2's Newsnight indicated that 52% believe victory in Iraq is impossible. The poll also indicated support for an immediate withdrawal of forces - with 42% saying Gordon Brown should take all of Britain's troops out of Iraq as soon as possible (see Background Reading for more).

Labour Party Annual Conference is coming, There is just a small window of opportunity for CLPs to send a "contemporary resolution". Please see suggested model resolution for your CLP to consider below. Please amend if necessary, but let us know if you pass it (or something similar) and who your CLP delegates are.

 

SUGGESTED CONTEMPORARY RESOLUTION FOR LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE ON IRAQ

Conference notes with dismay the statement made by President George W Bush on 22 August 2007 in Kansas City that there would be no pullout of Iraq while he is President.

The presence of US and British forces in Iraq makes a bad situation worse. The United States must be encouraged to withdraw.

Conference notes the withdrawal of British troops from Basra city to Basra airport on 3 September 2007, Conference further notes the recent opinion poll (BBC2's Newsnight poll carried out between 31 August and 2 September by polling agency ORB) indicating an overwhelming majority of the British public believe that victory in Iraq is impossible.

Conference accordingly calls on the Government to set an early date for the complete withdrawal of all British military forces from Iraq.


 

Please let your CLP delegates know about this important fringe event...

Sunday 23 September 2007 (7pm)

BOURNEMOUTH: TAKING LIBERTIES - THE WAR LEGACY

Labour Against the War conference fringe meeting.

Speakers include Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Milan Rai (co-editor, Peace News), Christine Shawcroft and Walter Wolfgang. Alan Simpson MP will chair the event. Other speakers to be announced.

Venue: Bournemouth International Hotel, Priory Road, Bournemouth.

This will be LAtW's 5th consecutive annual fringe meeting at Labour Party conference.

 

GOODBYE TONY, WE WON'T MISS YOU.

After 3,708 days at long, long last Tony Blair has gone. He gets to keep the car and a decent pension but that's it. He has called in the removal men to Downing Street to make the short trip to Connaught Square - and after a by election (to be held next month) he will no longer be a MP. But don't worry Tony won't be twiddling his fingers for long - the EU, Russia, the UN and US are almost certain to appoint him as a special envoy for the Middle East, a role that many think he is completely unsuitable for. He is, after all is said and done, a man with form. He is a man responsible for a war in Afghanistan and for a war in Iraq. With regard to the Palestine, Israel and the Lebanon it will be hard for him to be seen as an honest broker when only last year he was refusing to call for a ceasefire when Israel was cluster bombing the Lebanon.

Tony Blair: war criminal turns peace envoy - you couldn't make it up. What next? Osama bin Laden as Mayor of New York or perhaps Nick Griffin as head of the Commission for Racial Equality. Tony Blair should just retire completely from political life to some quiet backwater and consider himself very, very lucky that he hasn't ended up in the dock at The Hague where many think he belongs.

The emphasis for British anti-war campaigners must be to focus on urging Gordon Brown to withdraw the troops from Iraq. 24 hours as Prime Minister and three more soldiers lost their lives in Iraq (two from his part of Scotland). Today (Friday 29/06/07) a major bomb alert has brought part of central London to a standstill. British troops are part of the problem not part of the solution. In the coming weeks the US Congress will report on the troop surge, already Republicans are starting to call for withdrawal of US troops, so we must redouble our own efforts here in the UK. Below is a model letter to send to Gordon Brown. He says he wants Party members to be more involved with policy and debate. Let's take him a face value. Take a resolution to your GC (you could use the demands in the letter, below, as the basis for a resolution). Don't forget to let LAtW know how you get on, email: latw@gn.apc.org

MODEL LETTER TO GORDON BROWN


Gordon Brown MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA


Dear Gordon Brown,

There is no issue more important and no question on which the British people are more anxious to see a change of policy than the Iraq war.

On behalf of millions of British voters I am calling on you to:

1) Withdraw British troops from Iraq no later than Labour Party Conference.

2) Declare that Britain will not participate in any military attack against Iran.

3) Pursue a foreign policy wholly independent of the administration of the United States of America.

Yours,

 

_________________________________________

HARRIET ALREADY BACKTRACKING ON IRAQ APOLOGY

Some comrades may have voted for Harriet Harman in the lacklustre Deputy Leadership contest because she said she wouldn't have voted for war because had she known there were no WMD in Iraq and that the Government should apologise for getting it wrong. It was therefore no surprise that in the final round of preferences that Jon Cruddas' votes redistributed heavily in her favour to provide just enough votes win (by less than 1%).

Well it didn't take her long to change her mind on the apology. Less than 24 hours after being declared Deputy Leader she's already backtracking. Reproduced below are her own words on the subject form Newsnight (29/05/07) and the Today programme (25/06/07).

Today, Radio 4, Monday 25 June 2007
Harriet Harman: I've never said the government should apologise. What I've said is I actually voted for the war on the basis that there were weapons of mass destruction and I was wrong on that. How many times can I say it? I haven't asked anybody else to do anything - I've just explained what my position is.

Newsnight, BBC2, Tuesday 29 May 2007
Jeremy Paxman: Is there any one of you who would say knowing what you know now ... you would have voted against the war?
Harriet Harman: Yes, I would. I voted for the war because I believed there were weapons of mass destruction. If I had known that there weren't weapons of mass destruction I wouldn't have voted for the war. Clearly it was a mistake, it was made in good faith, but I think with a new leadership we have to acknowledge the bitterness and anger there has been over Iraq ... I don't think Jon [Cruddas] and I are trying to wriggle out of our responsibility. I just think if you are looking forward and trying to rebuild public confidence you've got to admit when you have got it wrong.
Jeremy Paxman: Do you believe the party should say sorry for what happened?
Jon Cruddas: I do actually, as part of the general reconciliation with the British people over what has been a disaster in Iraq.
Harriet Harman: (interjecting) Yup, I agree with that.
Jon Cruddas: And I don't think we can actually rebuild a sense of trust and a dialogue with the British people unless we fundamentally reconcile ourselves to what the situation is on the ground and our own culpability in creating it.
Harriet Harman: I agree with that.


DO YOU WANT PEACE & INTERNATIONALISM? REGISTER NOW FOR SATURDAY 12th MAY

This is being written as the election results come in from around the country. Has Labour stood up to its biggest electoral test since 2005? Initial results show Labour on only 27% of the popular vote, so no amount of spin can hide the disillusionment the electorate has with New Labour.

There is no doubt that the final results will be bad (Labour is suffering poll defeats in Scotland, Wales and England) and Tony Blair will soon announce his resignation (the bookies' money is on Wednesday 9th May). There will be a leadership election but will there be a contest? Many activists and voters have told us that Labour must change policies as well as leader.

But Gordon Brown, perhaps the only contestant in the leadership election, has bankrolled all of Tony Blair's wars, agreed with the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system and so with him as leader we can expect "business as usual".

The coming leadership election should be an opportunity for a radical change in British foreign policy: withdrawing British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, scrapping Trident, and making a firm public commitment not to support a future attack on Iran. That's why Labour Against the War, Labour CND and Labour Action for Peace have joined forces to organise a conference to look at strategies to achieve a popular defence and foreign policy for Labour's fourth term.

This conference will also be the only opportunity for Labour leadership hustings from the left of New Labour with both John McDonnell and Michael Meacher agreeing to participate.

Don't miss this opportunity, complete the registration form (see below) this weekend and return it to us immediately to ensure your place at this important conference for Labour Party members.

Defence & Foreign Policy After Blair

A conference for Labour Party members and activists.

When? Saturday 12 May 2007 (10.30am-5pm)

Where? Hungerford Primary School, Hungerford Road, London N7 9LF.

How much does it cost to get in? £5.00 waged / £2.00 unwaged.

Buffet lunch available £5 per person (must be booked in advance)

Agenda to include:
Scottish, Welsh and local election results analysis;
Update on Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran;
Update on the campaign against the replacement of Trident;
Developing an anti-war and pro-peace manifesto after Blair;
Who should lead Labour? Labour Leadership hustings John McDonnell MP and Michael Meacher MP invited.

Jeremy Corbyn MP will chair the conference.
Speakers include: Walter Wolfgang (LP NEC), Kate Hudson (Chair, CND), Billy Hayes (Gen Sec, CWU), Christine Shawcroft (LP NEC), Murad Qureshi (GLA), John McDonnell MP and Michael Meacher MP. Other speakers from across the Labour and trade union movement invited.

If you are interested in attending this event please register your interest now, either download the registration form or email: latw@gn.apc.org

Organised by Labour Against the War in conjunction with Labour CND and Labour Action for Peace: bringing Labour's anti-war / pro-peace family together to campaign for a safer world.


BLAIR'S UNETHICAL FOREIGN POLICY

Our Party is facing its biggest electoral test since the General Election in 2005. The Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and local authority elections in England will provide the stage for the final appearance of Tony Blair's long goodbye.

It seems like the right time to review the defence and foreign policy of New Labour and remind ourselves of some of the actions the Blair Government has taken over the last ten years. Here are just some of New Labour's shocking policies that have created a wave of anti-British feeling around the globe:

All this…….and Tony Blair still found time to continue to support some of the world's most brutal governments in Colombia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. But towering over all these shocking policies was the illegal, immoral, politically bankrupt invasion of Iraq. Despite over a million people on the street - the largest focus group ever - Tony Blair took us to war. Despite the biggest ever backbench revolt (140 Labour MPs voted against the war), Tony Blair took us to war. Despite international condemnation Tony Blair took us to war.

The leadership of our Party remains completely unrepentant, the war and occupation continue even though every single one of their war aims have been shown to have completely failed:

The war on Iraq remains the single biggest issue that has turned off so many of our core activists and even more of the electorate.

If we are to succeed in our mission to return the Labour Party to the path of peace and internationalism we must find a way to unite all those progressive forces that are not members of our Party. We need a genuine effort from all sections of the movement: from the rank and file, from the trade unions and from the Parliamentary Labour Party. That's why Labour Against the War, Labour CND and Labour Action for Peace have joined forces to organise a conference to look at strategies to achieve a popular defence and foreign policy for Labour's fourth term.

Don't miss this opportunity, complete the registration form (click here to download) and return it to us immediately to ensure your place at this important conference for Labour Party members.


IRAN: COULD THERE BE WAR?

The 15 British naval personnel taken hostage by Iranian forces on 23 March have dangerously raised the stakes in the propaganda war between Britain and Iran. Will Bush and Blair open up a new front in their "war on terror"? Is a military attack on Iran being planned?

The U.S. Navy on Tuesday (27/03/07) began its largest demonstration of force in the Persian Gulf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, led by a pair of aircraft carriers and backed by warplanes flying simulated attack manoeuvres off the coast of Iran. The manoeuvres bring together two strike groups of U.S. warships and more than 100 U.S. warplanes to conduct simulated air warfare in the crowded Persian Gulf shipping lanes. The US sixth fleet is in the Mediterranean - well within striking distance of Iran should Bush give the order to attack. Is it any wonder that the Iranians feel threatened by the US?

Tony Blair has insisted that the British naval crew were in Iraqi waters - even producing a map to show the alleged location. However there is only one problem: the Iran/Iraq maritime boundary shown on the British Government map does not exist. Only Iraq and Iran can agree their borders, and they have never agreed their maritime boundaries in the Persian Gulf - therefore the boundary published by the British has no legal force whatsoever.

Although we all want to see a swift end to this hostage situation it is showing all the signs of turning into a protracted dispute. The matter was considered by the United Nations Security Council and a statement was issued (being unable to agree a resolution). Tony Blair has responded furiously to the deletion of the word "immediately" from the Security Council statement, but his anguish cannot be as great as that of the tens of thousands of Lebanese civilians last summer, when he fought against the same word being put into calls for a ceasefire.

Many observers feel that the arrest of the British naval personnel could be linked to the US capture of five Iranian diplomats in Iraq last month. An offer to exchange these personnel could break the deadlock - but will the US agree? This will be another test of the "special relationship"; surely Blair's slavish support for Bush will be repaid? Don't hold your breath. George W Bush has only ever seen the "special relationship" as one where Britain does as it's told. The US President may see no reason to release Iranian captives for the British hostages. After all the US has never even had one single investigation into the deaths of British troops by so-called "friendly fire."

Four years after the Iraq invasion we are facing a much more dangerous world with a greater British entanglement with Afghanistan, increased tensions with Iran and the Israel / Palestine is unresolved our Party is in desperate need of a new policy initiative in the Middle East. It is for this reason that Labour Against the War in conjunction with Labour CND and Labour Action for Peace, has organised a post-election conference called Defence & Foreign Policy After Blair on Saturday 12 May 2007 (full details below). This conference will assess the May election results in England, Scotland and Wales through the prism of the "war on terror". This conference will develop an anti-war and pro-peace manifesto for Labour. There will be hustings for the Labour leadership - John McDonnell MP and Michael Meacher MP have both been invited.

Don't miss this opportunity to bring together Labour's anti-war / pro-peace family and to point in the direction of a popular defence and foreign policy.


AFTER BLAIR: WHAT SHOULD LABOUR'S DEFENCE & FOREIGN POLICY BE?

The Labour Party NEC met on Tuesday (20/03/07) to determine the leadership and deputy leadership election timetable. There will be a seven-week campaign.

Week one will be for nominations followed by a six-week campaign by those candidates (with a minimum of 44 supporters from the PLP). Voting will take place in the last three weeks of the campaign and a special conference organised to announce the winners of the leader and deputy leader contests.

Although plans have been drawn up for the leadership contests unfortunately they won't take place until after the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and local elections (including three mayoral battles) on Thursday 03 May 2007. Labour bureaucrats up and down Britain are bracing themselves for losses - and losses there will be. Will Tony Blair be able to hang on much longer? Surely he will announce his resignation within days of the results being known.

Those election results could well be catastrophic, Frank Luntz, the public opinion pollster, in the Guardian (16/03/07) said

"…even his (Tony Blair) most fervent supporters - and there weren't many even among this Labour-leaning panel - were far more vocal about the disaster that is Iraq and the spin machine that is Blair. "Cliche", "deceit" and "talent without integrity" are at the forefront of electors' minds when they think of the prime minister. He has fundamentally changed politics, but not in the way he intended."

Britain's support for the "war on terror" remains a potent political issue with the electorate. The decision to waste £76 billion on new weapons of mass destruction without the promised full public consultation and only made with the support of the Tories, adds extra pressure on Labour's traditional vote. (95 Labour MPs voted against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system - the largest Labour rebellion on a domestic issue).

Tony Blair remains unrepentant about the illegal invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq - but now he is a lame duck prime minister. The Chancellor, Gordon Brown - the bookie's favourite to take over as PM - has funded the "war on terror" every step of the way. On Wednesday (21/03/07) he gave his budget speech and in it promised a further £400m for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan (bringing the total expense of Britain's commitment to these two wars to £7.4bn). He further promised an extra £86.4m to MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, bringing their total annual spending to £2.25bn this year - that's more than double their budget before the September 11 attacks.

Britain's involvement in Iraq is now costing £1bn a year and has totalled more than £5bn since the US-led invasion four years ago. Britain's growing entanglement with Afghanistan has cost an additional £2bn with further demands upon resources

Our Party needs to change direction. It is for this reason that Labour Against the War in conjunction with Labour CND and Labour Action for Peace, has organised a post-election conference called Defence & Foreign Policy After Blair on Saturday 12 May 2007. This conference will assess the May election results in England, Scotland and Wales. This conference will develop an anti-war and pro-peace manifesto for Labour. There will be hustings for the Labour leadership - John McDonnell MP and Michael Meacher MP have both been invited.

Don't miss this opportunity to bring together Labour's anti-war / pro-peace family and to point in the direction of a popular defence and foreign policy. Please circulate the details to your local contacts.


TRIDENT: MPs VOTE ON WEDNESDAY, IT'S TIME TO SAY NO!

The future of the Trident nuclear weapons system is of great national and international importance. The implications of any decision will be felt for many decades to come. MPs should only take a decision after full, informed public and parliamentary debate.

The Government could a publish comprehensive information and analysis on all the key issues, including nuclear and non-nuclear options, current and future perceived threats to the UK, the deterrent capability of nuclear weapons to address such threats, the estimated costs for each option, our international obligations and the implications for nuclear proliferation.

The Government can allocate sufficient time for a full parliamentary debate, and the substantive decision on whether or not Britain retains a nuclear weapons system should be made by Parliament.

But on next Wednesday (14 March 2007) the House of Commons will be asked to vote on whether or not to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system.

Time to say NO - Emergency Lobby on the day of debate and vote on Trident replacement. Make an appointment between 1-6 pm with your MP to tell them why they should vote NO. Rally in Parliament Square from 6-8 pm on the same day.

Lobby your MP
151 MPs have signed EDM 579 (including 83 Labour MPs). You can check if your MP has signed by going to: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=32245&SESSION=885 If your MP hasn't signed up to EDM 579 ask them do so immediately, but more importantly ask them to vote against replacing Trident

EDM 579 : CONSULTATION ON TRIDENT

Jon Trickett, 09 January 2007

That this House notes the Prime Minister's statement in the House of 28th June 2006 that the White Paper The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent would be accompanied by an announcement on the means of consultation for the fullest possible debate; is concerned that there has been no provision made for public consultation; believes that a period of three months is insufficient for a discussion on a decision of this magnitude; and calls on the Government to extend the period of consultation to enable all political parties and other organisations with a legitimate interest to undertake full discussion and consultation which will enable them to present their views and make representations to hon. Members before a debate and vote.

Join the Big Trident debate
A broad coalition of individuals and organisations has launched a campaign to secure a full public and parliamentary debate on the replacement of Britain's nuclear weapons system, Trident. The website www.bigtridentdebate.org.uk contains a statement calling for a full debate which individuals and organisations are encouraged to sign. Please visit the site and join the debate on Trident Replacement.

Visit the CND website at: http://www.cnduk.org


IRAQI UNION OFFICES RAIDED

On 23 February 2007 US and Iraqi forces raided the head offices of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW), the country's national trade union centre. They arrested one of the union's security staff (later released unharmed), destroyed furniture, and confiscated a computer and fax machine. And then they did it again two days later (25/02/07), causing further damage to the union headquarters.

The union is condemning the attacks as unprovoked. It is calling on the occupation forces to issue a written apology, to return all the seized property, and to pay compensation for damages caused.

They are asking unions around the world to send messages of protest. If you are a trade union member you can show your solidarity by clicking here: http://www.labourstart.org/iraqraid


US generals "will quit" if Bush orders Iran attack

Some of America's most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

Read the full story on the Background Reading page.


When Will They Ever Learn? More Troops to Afghanistan

In 1842 an entire British army was wiped out in Afghanistan. 40 years later the British were once again defeated whilst trying to secure the Helmand Province. 127 years later the British army is trying again and has by all accounts been involved in the heaviest fighting since the Korean war. Defence Secretary, Des Browne, has announced that 1,000 additional troops will join the 5,600 troops already in Afghanistan.

The escalation of this unwinnable war is unjust as well as unwise. We now know that the US attacked Afghanistan because they were not ready to attack Iraq. 10,000 were killed in the early part of the war and many thousands more have been killed and displaced since. Sending more UK troops to Afghanistan will compound the problem. Meanwhile 90% of the world's heroin now comes from the Afghan poppy fields.


UK-US in talks on missile defence

This doesn't take two seconds but it's pretty important - and quite outrageous! Please click on to this BBC page:

http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6388713.stm?dynamic_vote=ON#vote_defence_system

and send out to as many lists you know.

The question asked is:
Should 'Son of Star Wars' defence system be located in the UK?

On Friday 02 March the vote was:

Yes
41.97%

No
51.11%

Not sure
6.91%

14,766 Votes Cast


IRAQ : SPINNING THE DEAD?

The governments of the coalition continue to spin their war, preventing any real debate about the true state of affairs especially in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands have died, but anyone who dares say so are then rubbished by the pro-war forces within the US and British establishment.

Les Roberts, an Associate Professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, writing in The Independent on Wednesday (14 February 2007) said:

"The government in Iraq claimed last month that since the 2003 invasion between 40,000 and 50,000 violent deaths have occurred. Few have pointed out the absurdity of this statement.

There are three ways we know it is a gross underestimate. First, if it were true, including suicides, South Africa, Colombia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia have experienced higher violent death rates than Iraq over the past four years. If true, many North and South American cities and Sub-Saharan Africa have had a similar murder rate to that claimed in Iraq. For those of us who have been in Iraq, the suggestion that New Orleans is more violent seems simply ridiculous.

Secondly, there have to be at least 120,000 and probably 140,000 deaths per year from natural causes in a country with the population of Iraq. The numerous stories we hear about overflowing morgues, the need for new cemeteries and new body collection brigades are not consistent with a 10% rise in death rate above the baseline."

And finally, there was a study, peer-reviewed and published in The Lancet, Europe's most prestigious medical journal, which put the death toll at 650,000 as of last July. The study, which I co-authored, was done by the standard cluster approach used by the UN to estimate mortality in dozens of countries each year. While the findings are imprecise, the lower range of possibilities suggested that the Iraq government was at least downplaying the number of dead by a factor of 10."

[You can read the full article on the Background Reading page of this website].

The US and UK governments are in denial of the very real catastrophe they have unleashed upon Iraq. Their solution: send yet more troops to kill and be killed while at the same time raising the pressure on Iran. Iranian efforts to develop an independent nuclear power programme are fuelling US accusations of really wanting to develop a WMD programme (sorry does this sound familiar?). Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the IAEA, is due to report next week to the UN Security Council on the Iranian failure to disclose all the elements of its nuclear programme. Look out for the US pressing for economic sanctions to be implemented against Iran.

In addition the US are now stepping up their the propaganda war, trying to draw Iran into their gun sights by alleging that the Iranian Government is supplying Shia insurgents with weapons in Iraq. No evidence has yet been produced, but this is all part of the US spinning us towards a new front in their war on terror.

There has never been a better time to protest about the Bush and Blair wars and next Saturday (24 February 2007) CND and the Stop the War Coalition have organised a national demonstration in London under the slogan No Trident / Troops out of Iraq. It is absolutely necessary that you attend this demonstration if at all possible. Labour Against the War are calling upon all Labour Party members and supporters to march together.

Look out for the Labour Against the War banner at Speakers Corner from 11.30am.
More details of the march at: http://www.stopwar.org.uk/


THE WARS GO ON, SO MUST LAtW!

In Iraq, the US troop surge strategy has raised the stakes still further as the violence is racheted up. Recent US combined operations with the Iraqi military are proving controversial. For example, the official story of the battle outside Najaf between a messianic Iraqi cult and the Iraqi security forces supported by the US, in which 263 people were killed and 210 wounded, is a fabrication. The heavy casualties may be evidence of an unpremeditated massacre (see Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, 31/01/07). The enormous mess created by the US-led forces shows no sign of improvement. The government is confined to Baghdad's Green Zone. Water, electricity and health services are being supplied at lower than pre-invasion levels. Warlords and sectarians dominate the Iraqi government. Many Iraqis say their lives have changed little.

In Afghanistan, Britain is to increase its military presence in Helmand Province by about 800 troops to 5,800 (British troops are part of a 32,000-strong NATO force based in Afghanistan). According to Des Browne's written statement the extra force will be in place by the summer. So more British troops will go to kill Afghans and be killed by Afghans. More than five years since the end of the war against the Taliban Hamid Karzai's government remains confined to Kabul. The country is still awash with arms where commanders and local officials can impose their will with impunity and although Afghanistan's powerful regional leaders may no longer command private armies it is the men with guns that have access to state resources and positions of power in provinces across the country. Many Afghans say their lives have changed little.

At home the recent arrests of terror suspects in the Midlands is being used by John Reid to argue for an increase in the time that suspects can be held without charge (only recently increased to 28 days). Expect demands for 90 day detention, ID cards and other clampdowns to feature regularly in Home Office and Prime Ministerial speeches.

Labour Against the War continues to campaign within the Labour Party and trade union movement against military action in response to the events of 11 September 2001. Labour Against the War continues to campaign within the Labour Party and trade union movement against any diminution of our civil liberties. As 2007 gets properly underway we are appealing to you to pay your 2007 subscription to LAtW now, to take a resolution to your branch / CLP GC to affiliate to our campaign and to recommend us to your friends, families and comrades.

We know that many good comrades have left the Party because of the Blair wars and although we know he will be leaving Downing Street within 6 months that's long enough for him to cause further damage to the Labour Party's electoral chances, especially at the Scottish Parliamentary and Welsh Assembly elections (polling day Thursday 03 May 2007). So as we contemplate what the future will hold for our Party we must reach out to all those anti-war / pro-peace members to join our campaign and help set the agenda for the post-Blair period that is coming. Now is the time to encourage all of our friends who have left the Party to rejoin. A leadership election is coming.

We need a leader who will bring British forces home from Iraq and Afghanistan, a leader who will respect civil liberties, a leader who can tell the difference between a loan and a donation - we need a leader who will re-awaken the latent Labour Party support that remains in the country. If you have a Labour MP ask them to ensure that there will be a leadership contest by nominating an anti-war candidate, tell them that a "coronation" is unacceptable and that it is the members of our Party who have the right to choose who the leader of our Party should be - not just the Parliamentary Labour Party.

HAS YOUR MP SIGNED EDM 573?

So far 43 MPs have signed up to John McDonnell's EDM 573 (full text below) and 27 of them are Labour MPs. Check if your MP has signed up. If they have don't forget to thank them, if they haven't chase them up to do so.

If you can't get them to sign up why not take the text of EDM 573 to your Labour Party branch and submit as a resolution for your GC?

EDM 573 : PLANNED SURGE OF US TROOPS INTO IRAQ

Primary sponsor: John McDonnell

Colin Burgon, Ronnie Campbell, Martin Caton, Michael Clapham, Katy Clark, Harry Cohen, Jeremy Corbyn, Ann Cryer, Jim Dobbin, Paul Flynn, Neil Gerrard, Ian Gibson, David Hamilton, Kelvin Hopkins, Glenda Jackson, Mark Lazarowicz, John McDonnell, Albert Owen, Alan Simpson, Marsha Singh, Graham Stringer, David Taylor, Bob Wareing, Betty Williams, Derek Wyatt.

______________________________________________________________

That this House notes the proposals under consideration by the Bush Administration for a surge of troops into Iraq; concurs with the view of former NATO supreme commander General Wesley Clark that this strategy would backfire; and calls upon the British Government to distance itself from this misguided policy and to seek to promote an exit strategy from Iraq based upon a diplomatic and political solution to the current conflict.

For a full and updated list go to:http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=32237&SESSION=885


LAST THROW OF THE DICE: 21,500 MORE TROOPS TO GO TO IRAQ

Despite hopes that George W Bush might take up the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group the US President has decided to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq, saying it will help bring security to Baghdad's streets, where the violence is most intense.

However the new "troop surge" strategy to crack down on sectarian militias will only prolong the occupation and extend insecurity in the country and the wider Middle East creating a longer, deeper, costlier and bloodier conflict. The Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress have jointly rejected the Bush plan, saying that a US military escalation "sends precisely the wrong message". Even the US Commander, General George Casey, has warned that there are no guarantees of success for the new joint US-Iraqi security drive to curb violence in Iraq.

Last week (10/01/07) saw some of the worst clashes Baghdad has seen in recent years as 1,000 US and Iraqi troops were held at bay by a few hundred insurgents. The battle was for control of an area surrounding just one street - so imagine the kind of strength that might be needed to pacify a whole city of six million people!

Despite the growing unpopularity of the war and the Republican electoral defeat to the Democrats in the mid-term Congressional elections, Bush's plan does not feature the kind of new thinking that was being advocated late last year.

So will the "troop surge" strategy work? What is clear is that George Bush's new strategy is a last ditch bid to win Iraq militarily, to turn around a war effort that has lurched from bad, to worse, to outrageous.

On Wednesday 24th January there will be a full parliamentary debate on the Iraq war. Anti-war MPs are planning to force a vote at the end of the debate on the legitimacy of the war. This important debate comes in the wake of George W. Bush's "war surge" to bolster the failing occupation.

Anti-war MPs from all political parties aim to ensure that the scale of this rejection of President Bush's "troop surge" will be reflected in a vote in the House of Commons.

They have circulated the following statement:

"We are totally opposed to the 'new strategy' in Iraq announced by President Bush which threatens to urn the disaster of the occupation of Iraq into a catastrophe. The American electorate cast their verdict against sinking deeper into the Iraq quagmire when they had the opportunity at last November's mid-term elections … Bush and the neo-conservatives in Washington, in ratcheting up the 'war on terror' in Iraq and elsewhere, are thoroughly isolated. We call on the British government to seize this moment to break from Bush and instead to begin the process of speedily disengaging from Iraq. Enough is enough - it's time to go."


EDM 335 - PLEASE CONTACT YOUR MP IMMEDIATELY

So far (11/12/06) only 7 Labour Party MPs have signed up – all of them LAtW sponsors – we can and must improve on this poor total.

The Parliamentary session is over now until the New Year but you can still urge your MP to sign EDM 335 (text below).

This is the time of year when many of us will be writing Christmas cards, while you’ve got your pen out please send a hand-written letter (attaching a copy of the EDM text) to your local MP. Not enough time? Then contact them via www.writetothem.com

EDM 335: IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ

28 November 2006

Primary sponsor: John McDonnell

Signatures (Labour MPs in bold): Harry Cohen, Jeremy Corbyn, Ann Cryer, Dai Davies, George Galloway, Bob Wareing.

That this House notes with alarm the conclusion of the October 2006 Lancet report that coalition forces in Iraq have been directly responsible for the deaths of at least 186,000 Iraqis since the start of the 2003 invasion; recognises that according to a September 2006 Program on International Policy Att