Learning lessons

Wanstead-says-Dont-Attack-IranLeft to right: Frank Burberry, Dan Redfern, Minnie Life, and Lucy Nichols of Student Stop the War

Wanstead resident and student member of Stop the War Coalition Lucy Nichols explains why she and a few friends recently hosted a stall on the High Street opposing war with Iran

On Saturday 29 June, myself and a group of student activists from the Stop the War Coalition ran a very successful stall on Wanstead High Street. We talked about the very real threat of war with Iran and encouraged locals to share with us the reasons why they were against British involvement in a war in the Middle East.

We came to Wanstead as part of a national day of action called by the Stop the War Coalition, a campaign group set up prior to the war in Iraq which has been campaigning tirelessly against British and American warmongering abroad ever since. The group has a support network that spans the country and includes everything from religious groups to trade unions.

I have been very fortunate in working for the group during my gap year, which has resulted in a fair amount of experience running stalls, leafleting and protesting. This is why I decided to come and campaign in Wanstead; I thought I’d bring everything I know about campaigning back to the High Street I grew up on.

Anti-war sentiment is strong in Wanstead, and in reality, it is difficult to find anyone in Britain who believes that going to war with Iran is a good idea. Despite this, there is no doubt that when US troops are sent to Iran, British troops will follow. Given the chance we could lose the EU as a trading partner, the Conservative government is doing everything possible to keep the US a close ally – even if it means supporting Trump’s populism, racism and warmongering.

By the time you read this, our next prime minister will have been chosen, but as Jeremy Hunt was among the first to back Trump’s line blaming Iran for the attacks on the tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, and with Boris Johnson’s status as our own personal Donald Trump, it is safe to say we’ll probably be joining in with the war on Iran regardless of who our new Tory premier is.

This is precisely why we must continue to mobilise against war. The best way to do this is by getting out and talking to people, as seen by the success of our stall. We amassed almost 100 signatures for our petition and raised almost £60 in donations. Wanstead locals shared their concerns surrounding the grave threat of war, stating ‘it will impact the most vulnerable and innocent the most’ and that we ought to ‘learn from Iraq’.

A Western war on Iran would plunge the region into uncertainty and utterly devastate millions of lives – just like the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen did. I urge people of all ages – especially young people – to help educate, agitate and organise against war.

For more information on the Stop the War Coalition, visit stopwar.org.uk