Blair and Livingstone have said the wrong thing about the Stockwell shooting, but - as you would expect - nothing can compare with the tawdry posturing of the Stop the War Coalition (proprietor: the Socialist Workers' Party). The SWP - sorry; I mean the StWC - has been holding a 'peace vigil' this evening outside Stockwell tube station. Its spokesman, John Rees, a member of the Politbureau of the SWP, manages to compound tragedy with blasphemy by declaring (emphasis added):
There can be no excuse for the police adopting a shoot to kill policy which guns down innocent people in cold blood. This is precisely the crime for which we hold the terrorists responsible.
If you wonder about that use of the word 'precisely', you'll get an insight into the peculiar philosophy of Rees and his fellow-campaigners by reading Nick Cohen's Observer column this week:
A warning arrives from the Stop the War Coalition. It wants to 'make it absolutely clear' that Germaine Lindsay, one of the suspects in the 7/7 murders in London, 'is entirely unconnected with Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition. Any suggestion of any connection between these two individuals is both false and libellous.'
Of course, but how could such a terrible mistake be made? Last year, when decent members of the left were supporting the Iraqi democrats and trade unionists who were being blown to pieces by the bombers of the far right, Ms German prepared a statement which called for 'an end to the occupation [and] recognises once more the legitimacy of the struggle of Iraqis, by whatever means they find necessary, to secure such ends'. Although the 'peace' movement abhors the murder of civilians in London, it seems less queasy about the murder of civilians in Baghdad.
We're happy to make things clear.
Of all the feeble evasions I have ever heard from apologists for terrorism, the most synthetic was from the StWC when the monstrous remarks that Nick quotes came to light. The organisation protested that this explicit cheerleading for barbarism was not an official statement of policy - as if the sentiments it expressed were a minor error of impolitic drafting that anyone could have made. It was, in fact, entirely consistent with the thinking of the SWP/StWC. I have written before of the open letter written earlier this year by Alex Callinicos, Professor of Politics at York University and leading SWP ideologue, addressed to a comrade. Callinicos makes clear that he believes legitimate attacks on Iraqis encompass a very wide spectrum indeed (emphasis added):
I refuse to equate ‘the “Iraqi resistance” as a whole’ with the obscenities practised by Zarqawi. What about the other tactics that are being used – for example, road-side bombs that kill American soldiers and attacks on Iraqi recruits to the puppet regime’s army and police and on its officials, like the Governor of Baghdad, who was assassinated last week? If you condemn these in Iraq, then you must condemn similar methods that were used again and again in anti-colonial guerrilla struggles – from Ireland to Vietnam to Cyprus to Algeria to Zimbabwe. I presume that you do in fact regard these as ‘legitimate attacks’...
If you want an example of these attacks against 'legitimate targets', these 'Iraqi recruits to the puppet regime’s army and police and on its officials', consider this BBC report from a few weeks after Callinicos wrote:
At least 114 people have been killed by a massive car bomb in the worst single such incident since the US-led invasion nearly two years ago. At least 130 others were wounded in the blast in Hilla, 100km (60 miles) south of the capital, Baghdad. The car, reportedly driven by a suicide bomber, exploded near a queue of people applying for government jobs....
Footage showed pools of blood at the scene, with dozens of people helping to put body parts into blankets. Shoes and tattered clothes were piled up in a corner. "I was lined up near the medical centre, waiting for my turn for the medical exam in order to apply for work in the police," Abdullah Salih, 22, told the Associated Press.
"Suddenly I heard a very big explosion. I was thrown several metres away and I had burns in my legs and hands, then I was taken to the hospital," he said. Muhsin Hadi, 29, broke his leg in the blast. "I was lucky because I was the last person in line when the explosion took place," he told AP.
The director of the Hilla teaching hospital, Mohammed Dia, told the BBC the explosion was far worse than anything the town had experienced before. He said the number of dead was likely to rise, partly because some of the injured were in a serious condition, and partly because some of the victims had been blown to pieces.
The SWP/StWC has, let me remind you, been protesting this evening about the British police, who commit "precisely the crime for which we hold the terrorists responsible".