The Stop the War Coalition was formed on 21 September 2001 at a public meeting of over 2,000 people in London following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. At this meeting a ‘Steering Committee' for the coalition was elected, consisting of a spectrum of left-wingers including representatives of Labour Left Briefing and the Communist Party of Britain.
Its platform statement was ratified at public meetings held in October 2001 in London and included the following: 'The aim of the Coalition should be very simple: to stop the war currently declared by the United States and its allies against 'terrorism'. We condemn the attacks on New York and we feel the greatest compassion for those who lost their life on 11 September 2001. But any war will simply add to the numbers of innocent dead, cause untold suffering, political and economic instability on a global scale, increase racism and result in attacks on civil liberties. The aims of the campaign would be best expressed in the name Stop the War Coalition'.
It has been the most prominent anti-war group in the United Kingdom campaigning against the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. The famous slogan ‘Not in My Name' was introduced as US and UK plans to invade Iraq became known.
The Coalition held major demonstrations across the country against the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. In some of the largest demonstrations the country has seen since the 1980s many people were galvanised to take an interest in politics for the first time. Campaigns have continued on a large scale since the original demonstrations in 2001. Other events have included thousands of public meetings across the country, direct action in the run up to the war in 2003 including walkouts from schools, colleges and workplaces, two People's Assemblies, international peace conferences, vigils, lobbies of Parliament and anti-war cultural events.
The largest demonstration organised by the Coalition was against the imminent invasion of Iraq on 15 February 2003. This was claimed to be the largest demonstration ever seen in Britain with estimates of attendance ranging between 750,000 and 2,000,000 people. Speakers included Tony Benn, Jesse Jackson, Charles Kennedy, Ken Livingstone and Harold Pinter.
Find out more about the Library's extensive holdings of peace movement material here.