Nineham’s wretched pro-Putin apologism should mark the end of Stop The War

October 12, 2016 at 3:05 pm (apologists and collaborators, ex-SWP, Human rights, Jim D, Middle East, protest, Putin, reactionay "anti-imperialism", Russia, Syria, war)

Chris Nineham: wretched Putin-appeaser

These things really happened, that is the thing to keep one’s eye on. They happened even though Lord Halifax said they happened. The raping and butchering in Chinese cities, the tortures in the cellars of the Gestapo, the elderly Jewish professors flung into cesspools, the machine-gunning of refugees along the Spanish roads — they all happened, and they did not happen any the less because the Daily Telegraph has suddenly found out about them when it is five years too late  – George Orwell, Looking Back At the Spanish War, 1943.

In a car crash of an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme, Chris Nineham, deputy chair of the Stop The War Coalition, was questioned about Boris Johnson’s call for people to protest Russia’s involvement in the war by demonstrating outside the country’s embassy in London. Nineham concluded by stating that the STWC’s guiding principle is to “oppose the West.”

The Foreign Secretary’s comments came after Labour’s Ann Clwyd urged those who care about the plight of Syrian civilians to gather outside Russian embassies across the globe until the country stops its bombing campaign.

Johnson also called for a war crimes investigation into the bombing of an aid convoy last month in which at least 21 people died.

Today host, Sarah Montague, began the segment on Wednesday morning by asking what the Stop the War Coalition was doing to oppose the conflict.

Nineham said: “We are we’re protesting with statements and our information that we’ve put out. We’ve condemned not just Russia but all foreign interventions into what is now an absolutely disastrous and horrible situation for the Syrian people.

“But we were set up as a coalition as a response to 9/11 and in response to the Western, British-supported drive to war back in 2001 and that is our focus.

“There’s a good reason for that…”

Montague interrupted, pointing out “we are in 2016 now” with a conflict raging in which “Aleppo is being destroyed”.

She added: “You have a Labour MP, Ann Clwyd, saying ‘where’s the rage, we should have two million, three million, four million people outside the Russian embassy…’

“Should people demonstrate outside the Russian embassy?”

Nineham replied: “This is not a serious argument being put [forward] by Boris Johnson, he’s characteristically trivialising the situation. If they want to protest outside the Russian embassy, they know where it is.”

When asked if Stop the War would get involved in such demonstrations, Nineham replied: “No we wouldn’t and the reason for that is that our focus is on what our government is doing.

“As I was saying, there’s a very good reason for this because we can make a difference to what Britain does, we can make a difference to what our allies do to a certain extent and we have done.

“But if we have a protest outside the Russian embassy it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to what Putin does because we are in the West and we are in Britain.

 “And not only that but a protest outside the Russian embassy would actually contribute to increasing the hysteria and the jingoism that is being whipped up at the minute to go against Russia… being organised by politicians and by the media against Russia to see Russia as the only problem in Syria.”

Montague said: “So you would urge people not to demonstrate against Russia?”

Nineham replied: “We’re not worried about it but what we’re saying is that there’s a hysteria that’s being organised by politicians and by the media against Russia to see Russia as the only problem in Syria.

“Syria is a multi-faceted war that involves Saudi Arabia, it involves the US and Britain who have been bombing the country as well.

“The real problem here is you have people who regard themselves as responsible politicians like Andrew Mitchell and John Woodcock and Boris Johnson to a lesser extent who are seriously saying that what Syria needs is more Western bombs, more Western munitions.

“And Andrew Mitchell actually came on this programme yesterday and seriously said it wouldn’t be a problem if RAF fighter pilots attacked Russian planes.”

Nineham went on: “The possibility now presents itself of there being a confrontation for the first time since the Second World War, between Russia and Western powers including Britain.

“And anyone who has a responsibility for peace or the future of the planet quite frankly needs to mobilise against that…”

At this point Montague cut off the interview but Nineham managed to get in a last few words.

“… and that means opposing the West.”

The Stop The War Coalition has now confirmed what many of us have been saying for a long while: the remnant of the group which ten years ago organised big marches against the invasion of Iraq, is now merely a “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” lash-up with Putin, Assad and any reactionary force or regime that happens to find itself in conflict with the West.

The STWC has made a conscious decision not to criticise Assad’s filthy regime. Why? Because in this war Counterfire and Socialist Action (the main political forces within the STWC)  are effectively siding with the regime.

Stop the War’s organisers are seriously politically disorientated. And that leaves them sharing platforms with a ridiculous Stalinist, Kamal Majid, and a Syrian academic, Issa Chaer, who when interviewed by the Iranian state’s propaganda outlet, Press TV, said, “I see President Assad as the person who is now uniting the country from all its backgrounds, all factions and all political backgrounds… anybody who calls for President Assad to step down at this stage; would be causing Syria an irreversible destruction.”

In theory, the STWC opposes Russian bombing. But, in reality they don’t: after all, Stop The War’s Chair supports the Assad regime and Russian imperialism in Syria.

It’s time for the serious left – including Jeremy Corbyn and Unite – to withdraw support from this nasty, reactionary bunch of apologists and appeasers.

NB: the quotes used in this piece come from the Huffington Post


  1. david walsh said,

    I heard this myself. Apropos of nothing much else I loved the “deep Dagenham ” accent of the son of one of the country’s most distinguished academic theologian.

    High table has obviously changed for the better.

  2. @pplswar said,

  3. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    Is anyone else just exhausted?

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