25 October 2004


The chickens have been looking as if they’d come home to roost for the Stop the War Coalition’s Leninist leadership for some time, but they now seem to have arrived back at base big time, with the departure of Mick Rix, former general secretary of the train drivers’ union Aslef, from its steering committee and the threatened withdrawal of the public sector union Unison (click here).

The issue is the attitude of the STWC’s leading lights – notably its chairman, Andrew Murray, a member of the Stalinist Communist Party of Britain (the Morning Star party), and its convenor, Lindsey German, leading apparatchik of the quasi-Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party who stood for the Respect Coalition in the London mayoral contest – to the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions.

The IFTU, dominated by the Iraqi Communist Party, appears to be the nearest thing there is to a real independent trade union movement in Iraq and has representatives in London who have been pressing their cause (click here and here), backed by an assorted group of dissident leftists and the TUC.

The problem for the STWC leadership is that the comrades of the IFTU, though opposed to the US invasion and occupation of their homeland, think that it would be a good idea for the occupation to continue at least until the promised elections in Iraq in January – whereas the SWP and CPB reckon that the only revolutionary course is to back the Iraqi “resistance”.

What’s most surprising about this bust-up is that it has taken so long to come about. It is guaranteed to run and run – and also has a delicious personal angle: Andrew Murray was for several years Mick Rix’s Alastair Campbell in the Aslef press department, and now plays a similar role for Tony Woodley of the Transport and General Workers Union, whose line on these events, an utterly irresistible confection, is here . . .

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