Benn to defy ban and march, Brown to defy marchers and bomb

[Monday]

Okay. Seymour Hersch has dropped another bombshell:

The bombing plan has had its most positive reception from the newly elected government of Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. A senior European official told me, “The British perception is that the Iranians are not making the progress they want to see in their nuclear-enrichment processing. All the intelligence community agree that Iran is providing critical assistance, training, and technology to a surprising number of terrorist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, through Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and Israel/Palestine, too.”

There were four possible responses to this Iranian activity, the European official said: to do nothing (“There would be no retaliation to the Iranians for their attacks; this would be sending the wrong signal”); to publicize the Iranian actions (“There is one great difficulty with this option—the widespread lack of faith in American intelligence assessments”); to attack the Iranians operating inside Iraq (“We’ve been taking action since last December, and it does have an effect”); or, finally, to attack inside Iran.

Rumours that Brown will call a general election in the next few months rather than sweat it out until 2009 can be seen in a different context if Hersch’s source is correct.

And it could be why the government isn’t too keen on the Troops Out demo to be held next Monday.

Tony Benn has today delivered a letter to the Home Secretary confirming that he will be marching on 8th October despite the attempt to use the arcane 1839 Sessional legislation to prohibit this march. The letter appears below. Tony will be joined at the front of the march by Walter Wolfgang, Brian Eno, Mark Thomas and many more people calling for the withdrawal of British troops and in defence of civil liberties.

Here’s Benn’s letter in full, with accompanying quotes from Eno and Thomas:

TO:
The Right Hon Jacqui Smith MP
Home Secretary
House of Commons
London
SW1A OAA
Monday, 1st October 2007

Dear Home Secretary,

LOBBY OF PARLIAMENT ON OCTOBER 8th

I am writing to you as President of the STOP THE WAR COALITION, to give you advance notice that there will be a demonstration in Trafalgar Square the day Parliament meets calling for the immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan at which I shall be speaking along with others.

Afterwards many of those present – including myself – will be marching along Whitehall to the House of Commons to meet MPs and urge them to support this call for a withdrawal, as I shall be doing in approaching Malcolm Rifkind my own local MP.

We shall be doing this in an orderly manner and I am making available to those who wish to have one, a postcard over my printed signature as a Privy Councillor, asking the police, and others to assist them.

I enclose a copy of this postcard.

The authority for this march derives from our ancient right to free speech and assembly enshrined in our history, of which we often boast and which we vigorously defended in two world wars.

I am copying this letter, and its enclosure, to Jack Straw, the Commissioner of the Metropolis, and as a courtesy, to the Prime Minister’s office.

I hope that you will be able to re-assure me that those who demonstrate and march down Whitehall will enjoy your full support and the support of the police.

But it is only fair to tell you that the march will go ahead, in any case, and I will be among those marching.

Yours in peace
TONY BENN

If they are planning an Iranian attack they will have a public even more upset and disgruntled than before. This is what this tightening up is about. Civil liberties never seem very important until you need them. At times like this we need to be re-enforcing them — Brian Eno

This is rather a ham-fisted attempt to prevent us from demonstrating. What they (the government and police) do is up to them. We will just ignore them and we have the moral and logical high-ground. I will be marching on Monday, 8th October — Mark Thomas

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