NEVER have we heard such silence on the part of socialists in St Stephen’s, as the old chapel was called which served as the House of Commons chamber for almost 300 years.
They have nothing to say about the expansion of Nato and its key role in provoking today’s war in Ukraine. They have no criticisms to make of Nato’s imminent presence along the 900 miles of Finland’s border with Russia.
They express no regrets for the final extinction after 200 years of Sweden’s policy of neutrality in armed conflicts. That country’s recent decision to apply to join Nato will complete a process begun in 1994 when Sweden joined Nato’s Partnership for Peace programme, before providing by far the biggest contingent in the EU’s 2,500-strong Nordic Battlegroup.
The Labour benches from where spoke the likes of Keir Hardie, Fenner Brockway, Jimmy Maxton, Ellen Wilkinson, SO Davies, Sydney Silverman, John Platts-Mills, Emrys Hughes, Konni Zilliacus, Harold Davies, Ian Mikardo, Joan Maynard and Frank Allaun have fallen silent.
There are no left-wing protests in the Westminster parliament today against the militarisation of eastern Europe, the “global Nato” heralded by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss or the new cold war launched against China. Nobody except Jeremy Corbyn calls upon the British and US governments, Nato and the EU to drop the warmongering and prioritise the search for a ceasefire, negotiations and a comprehensive settlement of the dispute between Russia and Ukraine
Demonising President Putin as uniquely evil, intensifying sanctions that vary from the indiscriminate and self-harming to the petty and absurd, throwing yet more arms into the conflagration — none of this is going to create a stable and lasting peace.
From the outset, the Morning Star has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, shrouded as it was in deceit and deception. But we also warned against the grave dangers of Nato and the EU’s relentless drive eastwards, of Georgia’s military assault on South Ossetia in 2008, of the Western and fascist-backed coup that overthrew elected Ukrainian president Yanukovych in 2014 and of the subsequent neonazi assisted siege of anti-coup communities in the Donbas.
We know that MPs on Labour’s back benches share our concerns about Western provocations, the US-UK-Australia military pact, Nato expansion and Britain’s mushrooming nuclear weapons programme.
So why the silence? Have they really been cowed by the bluster and bullying of Labour’s hardline pro-US, pro-Nato and pro-nuclear weapons leader Keir Starmer?
He is trying to impose an unprecedented gag on anti-militarist and pro-peace MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party. But Silverman, Hughes and Michael Foot would not wear it from Clement Attlee and Hugh Gaitskell, nor Allaun and Mikardo from Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.
Then on Wednesday, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon announced her readiness to run up the Nato flag over the Holyrood parliament should Scotland choose independence. It would, of course, be a strange kind of independence which immediately seeks to hand extensive foreign policy, military, economic and financial powers to Nato, the EU, the London Treasury and the Bank of England.
And who does the SNP expect Scotland to be defended against under Nato’s nuclear umbrella? Where would a Scottish government be prepared to undertake military action as part of a global Nato — Transnistria? The South China Sea?
This is the road to madness, if not to world war three. If MPs won’t call a halt to it, other citizens must raise their voices for peace and sanity. They can do that tomorrow at Lakenheath in Suffolk, where the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament will be protesting against the planned return of US nuclear weapons to the airforce base there.
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