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Syria needs a peace deal/Miliband ignores crucial issues

Syria/Labour and the unions

Russia’s suggestion that Syria agree to place its chemical weapons under international control stands in stark contrast to the western powers’ obsession with an illegal bombing campaign.

Moscow’s proposal has been agreed by Damascus and by Arab League secretary-general Nabil Elaraby, who insists that his organisation has always favoured a political resolution.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov may also have helped Barack Obama avoid political oblivion in light of the scale of domestic opposition to his projected bombing spree.

Washington’s new best friend Paris has leapt on the bandwagon, putting forward a UN security council resolution that lays down stringent conditions to the international control process.

However, it has also appended a threat of “extremely serious” consequences — in other words, war — if Damascus breaches these conditions.

France, in common with its British and US imperialist allies, seems incapable of realising that the world is tired of bully-boy posturing and threats.

It wants the conflict in Syria over, the refugee crisis solved and the daily civilian suffering ended.

Military strike addicts don’t have clean hands because of their colonial record in the region and their ongoing defence of Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian people.

Obama demands that Syria place all its chemical weapons for destruction under international control, yet the US has still not honoured its 1997 pledge to destroy its own within a decade.

In addition, the US president excused Tel Aviv’s deployment of white phosphorus against civilians in Gaza on the grounds of “Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Syria should neither possess nor use chemical weapons, but nor should any other state.

Weapons of mass destruction, whether chemical, biological or nuclear, should have no place in military programmes, but the nuclear powers still defy world opinion and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Instead of grandstanding on the sidelines, brandishing cruise missiles and bunker-buster bombs, the Nato powers should support the call for a UN-authorised peace conference to hammer out a political resolution of the Syrian crisis.

Miliband ignores crucial issues

Bob Crow’s assessment of Ed Miliband’s performance at the TUC as a “wasted opportunity” is incontrovertible.

The Labour leader, who floated the prospect of a Labour Party with 500,000 members rather than 184,000, had the chance to explain why trade unionists should flock to join it — and he blew it.

He told Public and Commercial Services union president Janice Godrich that he was not in favour of austerity but would stick to Tory spending limits to maintain economic credibility.

Spending limits equal redundancies, a pay freeze and cuts to essential services.

Does Miliband believe that this message will enthuse tens of thousands of trade unionists facing lower living standards and job losses to become individual members of his party?

His plea to trade unionists to show “courage” by backing his half-baked, self-defeating plan to eradicate collective union influence in the Labour Party is pathetic.

He should show some courage himself by moving away from new Labour’s Tory-lite agenda.

Show some of the courage that Labour in Wales has shown in banning blacklist firms from bidding for public-sector contracts.

If Labour wants membership growth, it should answer working people’s demands by backing public ownership of rail and utilities, announcing a council house-building drive and pledging to raise workers’ share of national income.

Ignoring the issues that affect working people will elicit a similar response from them.

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