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Stop the War calls for optimism on the left

Stop the War: Addressing issues of misrepresentation in the Middle East
Stop the War: Addressing issues of misrepresentation in the Middle East

LAST Saturday evening (Mar 11) saw some 60 local residents gather at the Morlan Centre in Aberystwyth to hear three distinguished speakers address the issue of ‘ Media, Misrepresentation and the Middle East ‘ , an event organised and co-hosted by the Aberystwyth Stop The War Coalition and the Ceredigion Labour Party.

Chaired by the latter’s officer for political education, Meic Birtwistle, the event is the first in a series held to celebrate the constituency party’s centennial.

First up was Mike Cushman of Free Speech on Israel who critically interrogated key terms of the political vocabulary the media uses when talking about Israel, and claimed that their official meaning is more or less the exact opposite of what they purport to be describing.

The ‘ disputed territory ‘ of the West Bank, for example, is actually subject to the longest military occupation in modern history (June of this year will mark the fiftieth anniversary), and its status as an illegally occupied zone has long been recognised in international law.

Also of Free Speech on Israel, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi gave an engaging and forensic analysis of the national media’s relentless hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn since his election as leader of the Labour Party in 2015.

This ranged over a number of forms, such as the amplification of party conflict and the use of epithets stressing that Corbyn was an ‘ uncredentialled ‘ leader, but special emphasis was placed on the national media’s attempt to associate his leadership with an alleged growth in anti-Semitic attitudes within the party.

Last to speak was Chris Nineham, a veteran of the British radical left and currently national vice-chair of Stop The War.

The thrust of his talk was that the media’s capacity for liberal consensus-making, particularly in matters of war, has broken down, and that the election of Jeremy Corbyn in the face of across-the-board media hostility to his anti-war politics is solid evidence of this. Therefore there is, he continued, a genuine struggle underway.

What are the chances of success? Pessimism has been in vogue for a number of years now on the British left, and Stuart Hall in particular never tired of stressing the danger of underestimating the strength and resourcefulness of the war-making establishment.

Against this, Chris refreshingly called for optimism: it is the political centre which is now in crisis, and went on to say that the Left have a good chance of success if it is prepared to do the work of movement-building.

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