[Marxism] Anti-War Protest on Election Day

James Daly james.irldaly at ntlworld.com
Mon Nov 1 15:23:00 MST 2004

Stephen Hawking to Lead Anti-War Protest on Election Day 

By Andy McSmith

October 31, 2004, lndependent/UK


Stephen Hawking, Britain's most eminent scientist, has become
the latest prominent opponent of the Iraq war by agreeing to
take the lead role in a ceremonial protest to coincide with
the United States presidential election. Peace protesters
will gather in Trafalgar Square at 5pm on Tuesday, where they
will read out the names of 5,000 Iraqi men, women and
children known to have died in the conflict.

The full death toll was put last week as high as 100,000.

Playwrights Harold Pinter and David Hare, actress Juliet
Stevenson, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and
relatives of British soldiers killed in action in Iraq have
all agreed to take part.

Professor Hawking, the author of the best-selling book A
Brief History of Time, is wheelchair-bound as a sufferer from
motor neurone disease. He recorded a message on Friday that
will be broadcast at the start of the rally.

The oldest protester in Trafalgar Square is likely to be a
fellow scientist, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Sir Joseph
Rotblat. In the 1940s, he resigned from his job developing
the world's first atomic bomb on moral grounds.

Sir Joseph, who will be 96 on Thursday, said: "In this
nuclear age, we simply cannot allow others to start military
action unless everything else has ... been tried and has

The rally comes at a time when its organizers from the Stop
the War Coalition have been embroiled in controversy with one
of its biggest backers, the giant public sector union Unison,
which has links with the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions,
(IFTU) whose general secretary, Subhi al-Mashadani, spent
more than 10 years in prison under Saddam Hussein.

Unison leaders were appalled when Mr Mashadani was barracked
and jostled at a London conference two weeks ago by left-wing
delegates who accused him of being a stooge for the US and
British governments. The row is threatening to become an
issue inside Unison, where an election is taking place for
the post of general secretary - the most powerful job in the
trade union movement.

Left-wing activists in the union are trying to unseat the
current general secretary, Dave Prentis, for being too close
to Tony Blair.

Jon Rogers, the left-wing challenger, has accused two of Mr
Prentis's senior advisers, Maggie Jones and Nick Sigler, of
trying to split the union from the anti-war movement. Ms
Jones, who is Unison's policy director, is a former Labour
Party chairman and is expected to become Labour MP for
Blaenau Gwent at the next election.

Mr Sigler, who heads the union's international department,
worked for many years at Labour Party headquarters.

"It is not in the best interests of Unison for circumstances
to arise in which it can appear that our union is being used
as a vehicle by the Labour Party leadership to sow division
in the anti-war movement," Mr Rogers claimed in a letter to
Mr Prentis, leaked to The Independent on Sunday.

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