Think for a minute

And many hang their heads in shame
That used to hold them high
And those that used to say hello
Simply pass you by
Think for a minute, stop for a minute
Think for a minute, stop for a minute

The Stoppers worst nightmare is a successful vote in Iraq later this month.

They know full well that if Iraqis turn out and vote, and get a representative body, that it will reveal (if it still needs revealing to anyone) the reactionary, anti-democratic nature of the ‘resistance’ they support.

Shameless Milne in the Guardian today does the groundwork, attempting to write-off the elections before they have even taken place.

In reality, the elections are likely at best to be irrelevant, at worst to plunge Iraq deeper into the abyss, says Milne. How patronising you get? A British journalist telling a people who have suffered a lifetime of repression that their first free vote will be “at best irrelevant”.

The Stoppers got caught out with the Afghan vote when after the event they had to scurry around in search of some way of discrediting that country’s first free elections. This time they want their part of public opinion to sneer when they see the television images of voters in polling booths.

Reader ‘Matewan’ has been in touch to point out a few factual errors in Milne’s piece:

Milne says: “The poll due on January 30 is part of a process imposed by Bush’s proconsul Paul Bremer, transparently designed to entrench US plans for Iraq and the wider Middle East”

No it’s not. It’s part of UN process which led to Paul Bremer leaving Iraq. It is significant that the pro-resistance ‘left’ are terrified that people will find out that the UN have endorsed the current political process.

“Major political groups and politicians are boycotting the elections (including the popular Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr) as illegitimate under occupation”

Again not true. Some, not all, Sunni parties are boycotting the elections partly because Milne’s mates in the pre-Enlightenment resistance have sent death threats to parties who openly want to stand and to the brave election workers and also some because they don’t want to participate in and thus endorse a political process which will remove the assumed ruling status of the Sunni minority which has been upheld by every previous occupying power in Iraq (the Ottomans, the British) and by pan-Arab nationalists such as the Ba’ath.

Moqtada al-Sadr is not boycotting the elections as Milne says, he is simply not standing as a candidate himself, however his right hand man is standing and he is in line with all other Shi’i clergy in calling on his followers to vote in the elections as a religious duty.

“Whatever the turnout and relative votes for the different lists, the result cannot and will not reflect the popular will over the most important issue facing the country: the occupation.”

This is utter nonsense. The first item in the programme of People’s Unity (Ittihad Al-Shaab) List, a coalition electoral list that includes 275 Iraqi Communists, democrats and independent patriotic and social figures, with 91 women candidates, covering all Iraq’s provinces and representing the full social, ethnic and religious spectrum of Iraqi society, reads:

“The participants struggle to achieve a host of objectives, including:

Establishing a federal democratic regime that guarantees rights for all Iraqis, ensures a life free of violence and terror, and enables them to end the occupation, achieve full independence, and rebuild the homeland on the basis of cooperation, democracy and social justice.”

It is Milne’s allies in the resistance who are seeking to prolong the occupation, with the aim of eventually doing a deal with the occupying powers, because they have no popular support.

The last few weeks have seen increasing numbers of people who opposed the invasion of Iraq finally waking up to the nature of the ‘peace’ movement that claims to speak in their name.

Milne’s article should be another wake-up call.

This is not an academic debate. The media is globalised and groundless claims that Iraq’s election will be rigged, even if made in the British press, will find their way to the streets of Baghdad. Demonstrations that make the same point will be reported across the Middle East and lapped up by regimes that rightly fear democracy might spread to their own doors. It does make some difference whether the media and public opinion in the west is supportive of the transition to democracy or mocks it.

If the idea of a successful election in Iraq, with all that would mean for the ordinary people of that country and the hopes of those fighting oppression elsewhere, makes you feel uncomfortable, it is surely time to pause for reflection.

If the idea of Iraqis voting for their own parliament gives you mixed feelings and you find yourself hoping that everything goes wrong, it is time to stop and think why?

Does your domestic political agenda really require that an entire nation suffer from more war, more poverty and more terror and have their dreams of democracy dashed so that you can have a smug laugh at Blair and Bush?