Jack Straw: “Now there are free trade unionists”

An extract from Jack Straw’s address to Labour Party Conference 30th September 2004. The full speech is on http://www.labour.org.uk
And where, under Saddam, those who campaigned for free trade unions often ended in a mass grave with a bullet in their back, now there are free trade unionists. One of its members, Abdullah Muhsin of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions is here today.
Hear what he wrote in the Conference Daily on Tuesday, and I quote:
“You have two options before you this week. One would give hope to all those in Iraq who want to see free trade unions and political organisations grow and thrive.
“The alternative”, he said, “is an early date for the unilateral withdrawal of troops which would be bad for my country, bad for the emerging progressive forces, a terrible blow for free trade unionism, and would play into the hands of extremists and terrorists.”
Let us be aware of this: yes, the terrorists have killed foreigners; kidnapped some; still hold hostage Kenneth Bigley.
But overwhelmingly the targets are the Iraqi economy and their victims are Iraqis – ordinary decent Iraqis, who want the chance to rebuild their country and who are being stopped, not by US or UK forces, but by these evil men who, knowing that they cannot succeed by ballot seek to impose their will by bullet and bomb.