On Saturday 14th May five VFP members joined York Against The War on their monthly stall in the centre of York. “York Against The War (YATW) is a branch of Stop the War Coalition and was established in October 2001 in response to the so called war on terror. The branch opposes military solutions of the problems of terrorism and promotes peaceful alternatives. Any war will simply add to the numbers of innocent dead, cause untold suffering, political and economic stability on a global scale, increase racism and result in attacks on civil liberties.”
They have a stall on St Sampson’s Square in the centre of York from 13-1500 on the 2nd Saturday each month, and this month were joined by VFP members: Phil Clarke, Tim Ford, Norman Lynch, Michael Elstub and John Bourton. Enthusiastic engagement with passers by soon saw a considerable increase in the numbers signing one or all of the 4 petitions on the table. Michael approached all and sundry and ignored the odd expletive and his persistence paid off when some serving uniformed soldiers who were raising money for SSAFA returned for a chat. Phil distinguished himself by recognising Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, who stopped to sign a petition (though not the ‘Stop Trident’ one!). He left with a handshake all round and a cheery “Keep up the good work” before we could tackle him on Trident renewal, (which he supports because of his members’ jobs). The three YATW stall holders were very pleased to have us there and they said donations and petition signing had doubled on the day. We also got some useful contacts including an invite to visit and speak at a local Sixth Form college in the Autumn.
This is the 2nd time VFP York has met and joining YATW on their stall is something we might do on a regular basis – though travel is an issue for those like Phil and Michael coming from a long way away. Armed Forces Day in York is on Saturday 25th June and is one possibility for our next meet or we might consider joining forces on that day with VFP Durham? Also we might join the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (www.caab.org.uk ) at their annual Independence from American Militarism Declaration Day which this year takes place on Saturday 2nd July at Menwith Hill main gate from 3pm to 9pm. Menwith Hill is near Harrogate and Mike (‘Spike’) Pike was invited to speak on at last year’s demo on behalf of VFP. Menwith Hill is the US main secret listening base see: http://www.caab.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/CAAB-special-edition_2014_web.pdf .
We were going to have a planning meeting to decide future events in a pub after the stall had closed, but we finished up with just three of us having a cup of tea in a cafe so there is a bit more planning to do before we finalise our next events. VFP York members please share your thoughts on what you would like to do.
Finally we are pleased to say that Ben Griffin has agreed to speak at the 1st of the annual series of Peace Talks held in York each autumn. It is on Thursday 6th October in the evening and details of timings and venue will follow. An event not to be missed!