Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fairford "disarmers" first day in court

Yesterday I attended the solidarity protect outside Bristol Crown Court in support of Dr Margaret Jones and Paul Milling.

In March 2003 this courageous pair broke into RAF Fairford, being used by the USAF to bomb Iraq, with the aim of sabotaging the aircraft, and the tractors that take munitions to them. They were arrested by armed US troops.
Prosecutor Bruce Houlder QC told Bristol Crown Court that when she was arrested, Margaret replied: "The US are using this base as a launching pad for war crimes. It's my aim to prevent that to the best of my ability."
The court heard that Milling said: "The UK and US Governments are using this base in an act of war which is both illegal and immoral. I'm doing everything in my power to prevent it."
The case has already been to the House of Lords and back to test whether the defendants can use the argument of lawful excuse (they can’t). Margaret and Paul argue that they acted to prevent a crime taking place.
The protest outside the court had about 70 people there, including a woman who had come from Scotland, and delegations from Plymouth, Bridgewater and Swindon (you can just see me in the photo behind Paul’s ear, holding the yellow Swindon banner)

Bristol’s socialist choir, the Red Notes, were as always excellent, and gave a human and warm dimension to it. But sometimes their choices of songs are a bit inaccessible which prevents others joining in.

The composition of the protest was quite broad, including some younger people who had been at the Drax protest, and a number of religious folks. I recognised a number of people who I know to be active trade unionists. However the political left were conspicuous by their very low profile. There was one sheepish socialist worker seller, but he didn’t offer the paper to many people. Several people remarked to me upon their absence.


Dave Marlow said...

I greatly admire and respect protesters of the war like yourself. It's gotten to such a point though, where I question if protest is really doing anything to promote change. Elections are going to be key this year in the U.S. but I have a feeling that most of the Democrats don't have the stones to end the carnage either, even if they do take back Congress.

Keep up the good work.


Renegade Eye said...

I support the disarmers against a bourgeoise court. I also disagree with the tactic. It substitutes themselves for the movement.

Still free them.

AN said...

Hi Dave

Do we achieve anything? I think we do. Imagine what would happen if there were no protesters. As it is, Blair has totlally failed to move the political agenda on from the war, and his support for Isreal in Lebanon (which would normally be considered an unremarkable and commonplace position for a British PM) has been a tipping point in his own party, which may lead to him resigning.

Yes you are right in the sense we didn't stop the war, and we haven't acheived troop withdrawal, but we have certainly had and are continuing to have a big impact on the political landscape.

AN said...

And Renegade.

I used to agree with the position you have argued here, but I have come round to a position that the direct action movement is complementary to building a mass movement.

Indeed paradoxically the direct action advocates seem more like "normal" people than the political left do, and have a good resonance with the public.