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Birmingham Stop The War 'Coalition' :Reprise

Ygael Gluckstein | 19.12.2002 09:41 | Birmingham

This didnt load up the first time..I suspect the ghost of Jim Higgins is to blame!

Dear All,
Here is a brief interim report back from the Birmingham Stop The War Coalition AGM which some of attended on Tuesday night.
There were about 100 people present in the Sports must have been expensive as we were told that the meeting had cost the Coalition £400 (!).
After hearing from a F.B.U. official there was a general antiwar speech by the Coalition Chair Salma Yaqoob. There then was a motion put forward by Salma Yaqoob and the SWP's Lynn Hubbard which called for the Coalition's 'Delegate Forum' to meet every 6 months, and for 'bona
fide' delegates to be 'invited' to attend. Copies of the motion were put placed in the hands of everyone present. Instead of focusing on the specifics of the motion, the seconder, the SWP's Lynn Hubbard instead gave a breathless recapitualtion of the actions the Coalition had carried
out in the past year. Of course I am in no way suggesting that she was delibrately trying to draw an equation between being against the war and support for the Coalition/SWP motion on the organisation structure of the Birmingham Coalition.
It will be recalled that the Coalition committee gave activists only a week to put together any alternative motions, ammendments or to put people up for election. So it was to a tight deadline that Bernie Macadam of Workers Power group and active in the Handsworth STWC
and the Network put forward an ammendment.
Two of his ammendments were accepted by the Coalition whereas the third proved more controversial. Sadly, by accident I am sure, there seemed to be no copies of Bernie's ammendment for people to see.
After Bernie spoke, Socialist Resisitance's Bob Whitehead representing the Stirchley Stop The War Coalition seconded..explaining why he supported Bernie's ammendment which wanted the Delegate Forum to meet at least every two months rather than the six the Coalition/SWP favoured. The danger being of course that with such irregular meetings the real power would reside not with ordinary activists but with the Salma Yaqoob/SWP/Socialist Action cabal that currently run the Coalition.
A number of people spoke against the motion, including disgraced and recently sacked now ex-SWP full timer Ger Francis. Rather then say why he was against delegates meeting on a regular basis Ger launched mainly into reasons why we should be against the war..again insinuating that those who disagreed with the Coalition/SWP were pro-war.
By now the atomsphere was turning ugly as stooge after stooge got up to denouce the ammendment, which let us remember was only calling for the delegates to meet every 2 instead of 6 months.
James Cunningham then rose to speak and was subject to disgusting behaviour. As soon as he started to speak disgraced sacked now ex-SWP fulltimer Ger Francis was making comments. James was subject to cat-calls, sneers, abuse and people from the floor trying to drown him out..contrast this to the silence to which the Coalition speakers rightly had when they spoke. I was standing at the back and had to turn several times to a Socialist Action
person and demand that they shut up so I could hear James. At several stages people shouted
"let him speak!".
Particular 'honours' must go to Salma Yaqoob who continuedly from the platform heckled James and whilst the Coalition's Vice-Chair, Socialist Action's Doug Jewel did ask for order a few times he was seemingly hestitant to interrupt Salma as she poured out aggressive abuse
towards James.
Things got even worse as those of us who disagreed with the SWP/Salma/Socialist Action concept of democracy were insinuated as, wait you guessed it, 'Islamophobic'! One of Salma's stooges ( Shaz Mazir) from the paltform waved a piece of paper in the air (what it said we couldn't see and no explaination was offered) saying " MAB did so much work (might be true but then neither the Coalition motion, Bernie's ammendment nor James' speech referred to MAB=Muslim Association of Britain, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood)..i didn't sleep for 6 weeks before
the September demo..what have you people ever done..then on the coach you hand this filth out attacking the muslims.attacking the muslims again"
The more SWP/SA and i presume MAB people got up to denounce 'them' as doing nothing..hmm well lets say that thats not true..just think of the 2000+ demo the PSC organised in Brum ..but hey lets not get the facts get in the way of anything! When one of the people i was with shouted her outrage at what i would call the'democracyophobic' lynch mob mentality of Salma, the SWP and Socialist Action there was an outbreak of pseduo-laughter.
The ammendent failed, the motion passed and the Salma. Socialist Action and SWP lash up on the Birmingham Coalition committee was voted in again. Full credit to James for getting through his points against a hostile vicious little bunch and the heckling from the media savvy
Salma (and boy am i glad we got it all on tape too..wonder what the media would make of these people when the mask slips???).
My personal view is that the Birmingham Coalition with the troika of Salma, Socialist Action's Doug Jewel and disgraced sacked now ex-SWP full timer Gerk Francis is dead as far as building a lively antiwar movement in Birmingham is concerned..sure they can pack an agm once a year but then we could too if we wanted but by counterposing democracy to activism they have become the Coalitions own grave diggers.
Ygael Gluckstein

Ygael Gluckstein


Hide the following 4 comments

purge em all!

19.12.2002 12:22

This is what we need! Back-biting, mutual accusations and an atmosphere of fear and loathing will make the anti-war movement stronger!

Purge the SWP! Purge the Muslims! Unity is weakness!

a nonny mouse


19.12.2002 12:33

Hi Ygael
I agree..what was stupid was the way in which from the platform Shaz waved a non-SWP leaflet and shouted:
"how much did this cost? You people could have saved an Iraqi child's life with the money it cost to do that"
Er..sorry but at a guess id think the £400 we were told by your SWP amigos it cost to have the meeting might have saved a damn sight more Iraqi childrens lives!
But hey remember kids any criticism of the SWP is islamophobic!



19.12.2002 12:39

You prove my point really dont you?
Lets have no democracy and anyone who disagree's with the SWP is a muslim hater??

Ygael Gluckstein

Purges, coups and all

19.12.2002 12:44

And as for "back-biting" and loathing, most of it seemed to be directed at the one speaker who criticised the SWP at length. He was the only person to get heckled and hissed at by the audience.

By contrast, all the bilious hatred directed the other way was largely listened to politely and quietly.

Which leads me the conclude you weren't at the meeting, nonny mouse....