Caroline Lucas – Did she resign as a patron of StWC under pressure or was it all a coincidence?
Three days ago I posted a blog on Caroline Lucas’s decision to resign as patron of the Stop the War Coalition. In it I made it clear that in my view this decision was as a result of the political atmosphere and pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to dissociate himself from StWC. That is still my view. Caroline disagrees and she sent me an email in response. I post it below and leave readers to judge accordingly.
Jeremy Corby — right in 2003 and right now
‘My decision (to resign as patron of StWC) was not the result of me being put under pressure’ Caroline Lucas
On 9 Dec 2015, at 19:19, Tony Greenstein wrote:
If Corbyn had been a guest speaker at a British arms manufacturer’s dinner the Labour right would have applauded
as someone who voted for you in the last election and as someone who has always respected you, I am astounded at your decision to resign from the Stop the War Coalition.
There has been a barrage of attacks on opponents of war in the past week. MPs who resent being held accountable, false tales of mobs besieging an MP Stella Creasy’s home, Tom Watson shooting from the mouth and then having to recant.
The Daily Mail doesn’t like saying that the French state bore any responsibility for Isis’s murder rampage in Paris. It is like blaming the Jews for Hitler. The Mail obviously forgets the time when it attacked Jewish refugees and asylum seekers and praised Hitler!
The anti-Labour Daily Mail just loves John Woodcocks asinine comment
Stop the War Coalition is the major anti-war group in this country. Not surprisingly, given Jeremy Corbyn’s links to the group, it has come under heavy attack including for a post re the Paris massacre when it said that France had reaped the whirlwind of its actions in Lebanon.
It is clear and obvious that StWC did not support the actions of ISIS in any form and whether its choice of words was clumsy or not is a matter for debate.
None of this excuses a decision to withdraw support for them at this point. It is an act of cowardice. Now is the time to give them support not to withdraw under fire. I have previously written to you about the support for Israel and Zionism by the Green Party in Germany and in particular its racist Bundestag member Volker Beck. I’m not aware of you having issued any statement concerning this.
I truly hope you reconsider your action, and reverse what you have done. When the anti-war movement is under attack that is not the time to run away. Either you identify with the allies of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the other butchers, which is what those who voted for war last week did or you identify with the anti-war movement, which in this country is represented by StWC. There is no other choice.
I am deeply disappointed by your actions and hope you are brave enough to recant.
Unfortunately progressives covers a multitude of sins
Jeremy Corbyn speaking on the StWC platform and defying the Labour warmongers’ demands to resign
Thank you for making me aware of your concerns about my resignation as a patron of Stop the War Coalition.
You raise a number of points in your email thread, many of which are about wider foreign policy issues. We may not always agree on the details, but I am surprised that you are questioning my commitment to opposing military strikes on Syria. Have you read my contribution to the parliamentary debate? You can do so here: I think it’s important that such decisions are evidence based and that includes evidence about the West’s motivation, their historical role in the Middle East and the impact on their ongoing decisions.
I see from your blog that you have read my statement about the decision to resign as a patron and am unclear why you have taken that to assume anything more than it says. I stood down a month ago and very much regret the way this information was put into the public domain. It didn’t come from me and, indeed, I very deliberately didn’t publicise it because I knew detractors would seek to use it to attack both StWC and Jeremy Corbyn. I have spoken on StWC platforms since my resignation and want to assure you the decision was not the result of me being put under pressure. On the contrary, it was a considered move that genuinely reflects the demands I have on my time and a long standing principle that, if I am going to take on such roles, I should do so only if I have time to be actively engaged in the workings and decisions of the organisation in question.
The right wing media have misrepresented this decision and I am saddened that you have fallen for that- not least because it means you have become party to their narrative – and not taken the time to confirm the facts before writing your blog.
On 10 December 2015 at 17:57, Tony Greenstein wrote:
thank you for this clarification. I have not doubted your opposition to the bombing of Syria but I have criticised the arguments you used for coming to this decision. Namely that you haven’t seen evidence to suggest it would achieve its objects, which does tend to suggest that if there had been such evidence available then you might have voted differently.
This isn’t a question of hairsplitting. Your argument assumes that the West has an inherent right to intervene even if, in this instance it shouldn’t. I am arguing that there is no such right. The very presence of the West militarily in the Middle East is the problem. Everywhere it goes it supports and upholds tyranny and sectarianism and confessionalism. Its only duty is to get out of the area and if it is so concerned about Isis, which I doubt very much given the nature of its alliances, then it can supply weaponry to progressive groups like the Kurds.
I am happy to take on board your assurances that you weren’t responsible for the leaking of your decision to quit as a patron and that you are still speaking on its platforms and regret any suggestion to the contrary.
If you have no objections I will put on my blog your letter and my response.
December 12th 2015
Further to my previous email, I would like to make some additional points.
will also assume, in view of your non-response to my previous letter,
that you have no objection to my posting your response on my blog.
I have never doubted your opposition to the bombing of Syria but what I
do question are the grounds that you base this on. Your opposition to
the bombing is not based on the principle of non-interference by the
West in the affairs of the Middle East and Syria in particular, but on
the particular merits of whether to bomb in this case. In other words
they are not based on anti-imperialism.
2. I watched much of the debate and saw you speak so I don’t need to delve into Hansard!
I agree that we can’t disregard evidence but that evidence is damning.
We are allied with Saudi Arabia, the largest funder of Jihadist groups
and with Turkey, which is guilty of genocide against the Turks, both in
the past and today, as well as act ing as Isis’s rear supply base and
conduit for its oil trade. Coupled with recently released Defence
Intelligence Agency memos in the USA, this would suggest that there is
far more at stake than simply the defeat of Isis.
Re your decision to stand down as a patron of StWC. I accept that you
have spoken on their platforms since your decision to stand down as a
patron and I hope you continue to do so, but given that there has been a
consistent campaign, far longer than a month, to pressurise Jeremy
Corbyn to dissociate himself from StWC then I still find your decision
inexplicable. It cannot be seen as anything other than a concession to
these same pressures. My understanding is that it related to two
articles, both of which were taken down on the StWC web site as well as
the question of whether Syrians who supported the bombing should speak
at the House of Commons.
‘I write in despair. Despair of course at the depravity displayed by the
murderers of innocents in Paris tonight; but an even deeper despair at the
depravity of the egregious murderers who have brought us to this ghastly place
in human history’. I cannot see anything wrong with this.
there was another article which compared Isis to those who believe in
international solidarity. If true this is crass and absurd and of
course the article should have been taken down but it wasn’t written on
behalf of StWC.
proper response would have been to point the finger at those who
criticise StWC and who are entertained, wined and dined by the arms
lobby in this country.
Yes the right-wing media have used your decision for their own
purposes. That was eminently forseeable. Regardless of the reasons for
your decision and only you know what they are, it should have been
obvious to you, coming at the time that it did, that your decision would
be used to put pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to break his links with StWC.
You are not a political virgin. You have been an MEP and now an MP for
16 years. You must have known that your decision would leak out. How
could it have been otherwise?
therefore don’t accept that I have become a party to the right-wing’s
narrative. What I have tried to do is to ensure that that narrative
doesn’t go unchallenged. I am not aware that you have challenged it.
think it is incumbent upon you to make it clear, publicly, that
regardless of any political differences with the leadership of StWC,
that you support what is the major anti-war organisation in this