Bournemouth StWC Inaugural Meeting Report
Claire Armstrong and Raul Pope report back on Bournemouth Stop the War Coalition's inaugral meeting
In January, Stop the War Coalition Bournemouth was born as a response to the refugees that have come to Bournemouth from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea. Their teacher, Claire, wanted to know why they’d had to come so far and what she could do to help. The answer ‘war’ was repeated over and over and Claire decided to investigate and look for the root of the problem and try to make a difference to these people’s lives. Her search led her to look for a Stop the War Bournemouth branch only to find there wasn’t one. One email later to Head Office and the wheels were in motion. From a hastily arranged meeting in a pub to leafleting in the town centre, a presence on social media and then the first meeting, it’s been a short but hectic rise.
The inaugural meeting took place in February, entitled, ‘A More Dangerous World? War and Foreign Policy under Trump.’ Stop the War National Officer Ian Chamberlain narrowly avoided the gales and a replacement bus service to successfully start a lively debate. Views ranged from people who believed war could be a force for good, to taking direct action and everything in between. The 17 people who attended were made up of local activists, Green Party members, local musicians, teachers and NHS staff. Most were curious to find out more about what they could do and felt positive about being part of an anti-war group that Bournemouth had been waiting for. Despite the differing opinions and origins, one speaker summed it up nicely (we thought) when he said, ‘whatever your perspective, we can all agree that war mongering, military intervention and selling weapons cannot continue.’
Going forward, our second meeting will take place on Wednesday 10th May and will be titled, ‘Britain’s Seven Wars’. We hope this will raise further awareness that British Armed Forces are currently involved in military action in seven countries around the globe. We aim to get more people involved this time, engaging more of the local community in debate and evolving the anti-war conversation with those who feel they don’t have a voice.
Beyond that, Bournemouth hosts an annual Air Show at which the military have a commanding presence and use it strategically to entice impressionable plane enthusiasts. While we have nothing against the Air Show and families enjoying the Bank Holiday at the beach admiring the displays, we feel it would be even more enjoyable without the military and question how their presence affects support for military action around the globe.
Our aim, ultimately, is to promote dialogue between local people from all walks of life that in turn becomes a part of much wider and livelier conversation happening around the world, one which helps save lives; the lives of soldiers and civilians alike.
We sincerely hope that Bournemouth Stop the War coalition increases in size and that people are not afraid to stand up and be counted in a geographical area that is not well known for grassroots anti-war movements.