The following letter was sent by Pauline Bradley, the Convenor of
Iraq Union Solidarity, to the Morning Star at the end of last year. A
cut down version of this letter was published.
It's very sad to see the anti war "left" so shallow and devoid of
strategy and critical analysis.
Like a huge number of people on the left today, I was in the SWP 20
years ago, but left after three years for many reasons. The Morning
Star's editorial, front page and article about the "peace" conference
on 10 December could easily have been published in Socialist Worker.
Only once is the word "worker" mentioned, in respect of (what is
becoming, not of their choice, the token Iraqi union) the General
Union of Oil Workers. The GUOE is seen as "independent" (unlike the
FWI, formally IFTU). The GUOE's links with SCIRI and the Shia
government are played down. Iraq Union Solidarity supports all the
genuine, representative trade unions in Iraq.
I don't dismiss my time in the SWP, but since leaving, I've worked in
many struggles, with dockers and other workers; some who have been
life long Communist Party members. I've learned a lot from them.
Stop the War Coalition has been raising the demand "Troops Out Now,
End the Occupation" for three years, but they're no closer to
achieving their aim. Who do they think will get the "troops out now?"
Maybe they'll parachute hundreds of their own members into Iraq to do
The Morning Star's coverage is poor but reflects the "peace"
conference itself, which was one of the most boring, stage-managed
events, I've ever been to. I'm glad STW exists and that they're
building for a march in March (no prizes for guessing what the
placards will say - all produced in the SWP's print shop). However,
let's not be naive; the SWP cannot keep people in their party for
long so they have to keep on recruiting, and "Troops out now" is a
great slogan to get young, angry people involved. STW have no
strategy to actually end the occupation, they're probably not really
interested in that anyway. However I'd have thought the Communist
Party would be more rigorous.
No one talks of Saddam Hussein's regime, the 30 years of persecution
of the Iraqi CP (your comrades remember?) which is still continuing.
However you give large space to George Galloway, who started a
campaign against Abdullah Muhsin, calling him a "quisling".
No one talks about how the "left" and other odds and sods, all of
whom enjoy free speech, prevented Subhi Al Mashadami (General
Secretary of the former IFTU) from speaking at the ESF. He being a
man who has never had free speech in his own country. An NUJ
journalist told me he saw Ba'athists in the mob. Three months later
Hadi Saleh was tortured and killed by Ba'athists. No one talks about
this. Those "leftists" who generated the hatred with their sectarian
newspaper stories, or who fuelled the mob, are still well respected
people in the STW movement.
No one talks of the railway workers, cleaners, and transport workers,
hairdressers and unemployed workers who have been murdered by
insurgents or the US.
No one talks of the dangers if the lessons from the 1979 Iranian
revolution aren't learned. The SWP and others supported the Ayatollah
Khomeni against the US puppet Shah. Khomeni went on to kill 10,000
trade unionists, women, and secularists.
If the (anonymous) editor of the Morning Star doesn't understand why
some of us criticise the STW/"lefts" pandering to Islamic
fundamentalism, why not seek a dialogue, instead of making a childish
slur? The formulations s/he mentions are not "designed to confuse"
but if s/he finds them confusing then we can talk. We are human
beings; we have the capacity to talk.
No one talks of the dangers, which would occur if the troops DID cut
and run as they did in Vietnam. This resulted in the US
carpet-bombing Vietnam with Agent Orange. Is that what the "Troops
out now" STW want for the Iraqi people? No one talks of a strategy
for actually getting the troops out.
Disgracefully not many STW's seem interested in the real Iraqi trade unions,
who are struggling hard for survival. The just want simplistic
slogans and to romanticise the Islamic clerics. Only they don't have
to live under an Islamic government.
Its time the left reclaimed its secularism, became proud again for
its struggles for women's rights, gay and lesbian rights, and stood
firmly behind all the independent Iraqi trades unions in their
amazing and heroic struggle for peace and for a civil society.