A new exchange of letters between Mick Rix, ex-General Secretary of ASLEF and Andrew Murray, Chair of the Stop the War Coalition

(LFIQ found these documents posted on the website of the journal What
Next? http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk and as such in the public
LFIQ invites readers to study these letters very carefully. We would
draw our readers attention to just two points before encouraging them
to read the entire exchange.
First, Rix objects first to the StWC’s expressed support for ‘any
means necessary’ used by the Resistance. Rix writes to Murray ‘If you
think I am going to sit back and agree with beheadings, kidnappings,
torture and brutality, and out right terrorization of ordinary Iraqi
and others, then you can forget it’.
Second, Rix points out that Murray, and the StWC, have fingered the
IFTU. “I don’t think you also realise the danger that your actions and
those of the Respect colleagues in the StTW have placed [the Foreign
Representative of the IFTU] against attacks from extremists. Some
people talk about life and death situations, some unfortunately have
to live it and so do their families in Iraq and I don’t see why you,
Respect or the coalition have a right to think you can place them in
that situation, when they are living daily with those consequences,
because they are not the “new” friends of yourself, George, StTW or
Respect such as extreme nationalists, or religious fundamentalists. It
is you who have attacked the IFTU and Abdullah”.

‘A new exchange of letters between Mick Rix, ex-General Secretary of ASLEF and Andrew Murray, Chair of the StWC, on the subject of Rix’s resignation from the StWC’
Mick Rix to the Stop the War Coalition, 19 October 2004
Subject: Re: Steering Committee Meeting
Please could you send my apologies, also I wish to resign my position
on the steering committee. There are two reasons, one I am not able to
make the meetings due to work pressures, secondly I do not agree with
assertions made over the conduct of union delegations at the Labour
party in the recent statement, and indeed the attacks made on
Abdullah. I think in these difficult times, the recent outbursts that
have been made, and the personalisation has vastly reduced our
influence and support, in the movement. I thought it would have been
better and more democratic, before these statements were made, they
should have been discussed, and wider views sought. There is nothing
wrong with criticism, and people from time to time will have and hold
different views, but there are better ways of making this critique,
and there were better ways of inviting views on this critique, before
it was published.
I wish you all future success, but I believe at the moment damage has
been done that is long lasting, I also feel that Abdullah should
receive an apology for some of the stupid and wild accusations made
about him. I also believe that the vast majority of union delegates at
the Labour Party who hold strong views on the war, and the vast
majority are anti-war, should also receive an apology for the vitriol
that has been whipped up against them. At least they debated and
discussed the position before doing what they did, likewise the
statements that have been made, by representatives and close
associates of STW, have not been debated prior to their publication,
nor were their views sought as well.
Mick Rix
Andrew Murray to Mick Rix, 20 October 2004
Dear Mick
I am writing to you because I have been unable to reach you by phone
since our conversation 24 hours ago. It now seems clear that as well
as simply resigning from the Coalition Steering Committee you have,
simultaneously, circulated your resignation letter with a lengthy and
critical covering note to a variety of people in the movement (I have
no idea how many) who you feel may be interested in your action.
Unsurprisingly, this has already reached hostile media and is being
picked up and used against the Coalition.
I must say that I cannot regard this as anything other than a
betrayal. If you wish to resign from the Committee (which, as you
note, you have never attended anyway) then that is ultimately your
affair. But to publicise the fact as you have done is either a
deliberate attempt to damage the Coalition within the trade unions or
simply very naive. I also note that you neither tried to discuss this
with me, in spite of our very close political relationship over recent
years, nor even had the courtesy to copy me in on your round-robin
Your resignation is now a public political act. As I said to you
yesterday, before I was aware that you had already broadcast your
decision far and wide, your reasons simply do not hold water. The StWC
statement re. the IFTU does not attack any trade union in Britain, nor
has any union affiliated to the Coalition asserted that it does. You
were given the same opportunity to comment on the IFTU statement prior
to its publication as other Steering Committee members, yet you chose
not to do so, at a time when your input might well have been very
helpful. And you agree that comment by the Coalition on the
pro-occupation vote at the Labour Party conference (a decision which
you yourself say you disagree with) was unavoidable. Since your
resignation has been made public by yourself, I will have to consult
with colleagues in the Coalition as to whether we wish to publicly
respond to your charges. Should we do so, I guarantee I will advise
you of any statement in advance.
I had hoped that you would reconsider your resignation, mostly because
I believe that it will damage your own standing on the left. As we
speak, the US is preparing a bloody assault on Fallujah, and British
politics is in uproar over the redeployment of British troops to
facilitate this. The occupation of Iraq remains the central question
in world politics, far more important than the bruised feelings of
particular trade union delegates to the Labour Party. The government
is on the ropes once again and, as part of its crisis, is
co-ordinating the heaviest attacks on the anti-war movement since
March-April of last year. Under these circumstances, resignation will
inevitably seem self-indulgent at best, or desertion at worst. It
will, I fear, be remembered by your comrades long after the row re the
IFTU is forgotten.
You will appreciate it gives me not the slightest pleasure to write to
you in these terms, since I have greatly valued your comradeship and
will always remain grateful for your support (and Debbie’s) during the
productive years we shared at ASLEF. Indeed, I have always
acknowledged that without your support, it would scarcely have been
possible for me to play the role within the StWC that I have done.
However, just as you would always have put the interests of ASLEF
above any personal considerations, so I have to do now in respect of
my obligations to the Stop the War Coalition.
Mick Rix to Andrew Murray, 21 October 2004
Dear Andrew
Firstly I am at a loss to understand why as a comrade you have taken
it upon yourself to write to me in the way that you have. When any
message that I may have sent to anyone in the movement who are friends
and comrades, was in defence of socialists and trades unionists, and
was not overtly critical, nasty or personalised as your letter appears
to be.
I would invite you to read again the comments I made, also the
comments made to John Haylett. Are you saying my comments to John are
phrased like yours? Yet I am astounded that I should receive the
written abuse that I have from you.
My resignation to the coalition was polite, accurate, and comradely.
Firstly I have already sent you a message, giving you a reason why I
was unable to return your call. I now discover when I arrived home
this evening you have sent me this unwarranted, political and personal
assault. The language that you use and the way they have been phrased,
tends in part to be very similar to the StTW statements put out
without any consultation. In fact the language you are using, to be
frank, shows that some of you in the coalition are on the verge of
losing the plot.
Firstly let’s get a few things straight and let’s stick to the facts
as they are. I am and always will be a committed vociferous opponent
and activist against the illegal invasion, occupation and bloodshed
that has been caused in Iraq. Secondly I really do not require a
lecture from you, over what has taken place, or what is about to take
place in Iraq.
I do not know where you think you have the right to threaten me as you
so did, with the remarks in your letter, thus “under these
circumstances, resignation will inevitably seem self-indulgent at
best, or desertion at worst. It will, I fear, be remembered by your
comrades long after the row re the IFTU is forgotten”.
I am not aware that you have now been elected the official
spokesperson for the left, after all comrade, it was myself that
fought for an anti war policy in the left of the TUC, and who
persuaded the left in the TUC to take the actions that they did, when
some had very grave personal reservations about doing so, and who they
were joining forces with!! Also remember this comrade, unlike some, I
personally lost an election due to my personal and political support
for the anti war position, and I don’t remember too much, the real
practical support from some comrades, in helping the left in my union
to fight the reactionary right wing stance, that eventually won.
Mainly because some had a blind naivety, in thinking that I and the
left could just stroll it, and because others were just too busy,
doing other things for other people, despite the fact of the very
practical help and support we in the left in ASLEF needed at that
time, and which we readily gave others, including yourself.
So yes as a casualty, and so too my comrades in the left in my former
union, I think I have demonstrated more than others that I put my neck
on line for this cause, and many other working class causes. I not
only think your remarks are silly and totally unwarranted, but at best
reflect a statement, which you have no standing in the movement to
make, and at best reflect an over indulgence in your own self opinion.
Again with respect you have no right to say that I should not inform
comrades in the movement of my decision, when you think you have the
right to send out a statement, in “my name” as a member of the
steering committee, may I add without any consultation. If you believe
you have the unilateral right to write and publicise a statement, and
send it out to all and sundry, inside and outside our movement,
attacking working class trade unionists and socialists, and the Iraqi
trade union movement, and the Iraqi representative of the IFTU, then I
think I have the very same right to send my tame letter of resignation
to comrades and friends in the movement.
If you think my actions were a betrayal, I will be quite honest, I
think your public statement, without consultation, is a worse act of
betrayal, for I have made a tame critique over the StTW statement, you
made a public and unwarranted attack on working class, trade unionists
and socialists, also the Iraqi trade union movement and their
representative. I have resigned because I do not agree with your right
to attack socialists, trade unionists and anti-war supporters, and our
Iraqi comrades. I think betrayal is at your door.
The movement that I was brought up in, comrade, allows constructive
criticism, yourself, StTW and Respect crossed the line, in terms of
human decency, and was an all out assault. The language that was used
was deliberate, archaic, violent, and plain downright stupid and
dangerous if you happen to be an Iraqi at this present time. Then
again you are not.
If you wish to stick by your terrible statement, that is personalised
and a character assassination, then so be it. I think when you are
wrong, you should apologise, not make excuses, or avoid apologising,
which you are doing. I also think it high time you got back to
observing some decent movement traditions, instead of aping certain
traditions that some of your colleagues are famous for in StTW and
I don’t think you also realise the danger that your actions and those
of the Respect colleagues in the StTW have placed Abdullah and perhaps
others in the IFTU against attacks from extremists. Some people talk
about life and death situations, some unfortunately have to live it
and so do their families in Iraq and I don’t see why you, Respect or
the coalition have a right to think you can place them in that
situation, when they are living daily with those consequences, because
they are not the “new” friends of yourself, George, StTW or Respect
such as extreme nationalists, or religious fundamentalists. It is you
who have attacked the IFTU and Abdullah. So much for the bold
statement the StTW will not interfere in Iraqi internal politics, your
statement, and that of the StTW at worst, did, the statement has
probably placed these good trade unionists and socialists at a
terrible risk. I also find it hard to believe you as a communist,
would place a fellow communist in that position deliberately, however
you, George, Respect and StTW may have done so.
I also passionately disagree with your assertion that consultation was
afforded on the StTW statement, did you ring up the affiliated trade
unions, prior to making the statement? Did you consult with the broad
lefts of those unions, prior to the statement being issued? You also
made the point on the telephone when we spoke that the email sent from
yourself and Lindsay was unfortunate and not clear. However you have
omitted to mention that in your letter.
May I also print what was actually sent to me in the email, I think
you will agree, there is no misunderstanding, and there never was any
intention of consultation:
“FROM Stop the War Coalition 8th October 2004 12.04PM
Dear Friends
The attached statement is to be issued on Monday by the Coalition in
response to the pressing political questions for the anti-war movement
which have arisen from the Labour Party conference. It has been
endorsed by the officers and will of course be on the agenda for
discussion at the Steering Committee meeting to be held later this
Kind regards
Andrew Murray and Lindsey German”
I am sorry comrade, your email with the attachment of the statement
was not a consultation, and was only to be “discussed by the steering
committee later this month” on the 19th October 2004. Do you call that
an invitation to consult? That is my whole point, I was never
consulted and in “my name”, a statement is put out, that attacks trade
unionists, socialists, and Iraqi comrades and their organization.
Was this act, not really in response, due to the unfortunate public
and personal assault by George Galloway printed in the Morning Star,
and the deserved outrage of reaction, that the said (article)
received. In so doing, in trying to prop up support for Respect, you
all then rush to put out another statement, this time in the name of
the StTW, which virtually does the same thing, to take away some of
the heat generated by that vicious, incorrect and unwarranted rant by
George. A total knee jerk reaction, but with the same dangerous, and
familiar hallmarks of ultra-leftist impatience and stupidity. When a
mistake is committed, people with an ounce of common sense usually do
not try to repeat it!!
However in this case, the mistake by supporters of Respect and
yourself in StTW gets worse, in not distancing themselves from the
George rant, you then put in the statement some of the most
politically motivated and contradictory points that I have seen for
some time, that have probably caused the most massive rift, and the
most dangerous attack on an individual, you all may as well have
loaded the gun for the extremists.
I totally disagree with the statements that this was indeed the object
of Abdullah, in fact in talking to Rob Griffiths GS CPB yesterday,
over what you said to me, that Abdullah had overstepped the remit of
the IFTU, Rob confirmed to me, that indeed the IFTU now deny saying
this. If Abdullah has done something incorrect, as an Iraqi trade
unionist, and socialist, I think that is for the Iraqi movement to say
so, that is now not the case, according to Rob, who made it clear to
me, that indeed the IFTU representatives, some days later withdrew
those remarks. It also proves the point about a knee jerk response,
and impatience shown, and the lack of clarity in terms of evidence
that indeed Abdullah personally acted above and beyond his remit, on
behalf of the IFTU.
The IFTU is now officially supported by a number of trade unions, and
the TUC. Which has a pretty good policy in relation to the situation
in Iraq. Let’s also remember comrade when you were at ASLEF, after an
approach from the CPB, which you knew and were aware of, that I was
asked to approach and encourage the TUC, to recognize the IFTU, a
socialist and CP Iraqi TU Federation. They are a legitimate Trade
Union federation the same as our TUC, what rights have the coalition
to place these people in danger with the language used in the StTW
statement? It took some time to get support for the IFTU through the
TUC, but it has been embraced after a battle with the ICFTU. You now
want to throw all that away, by wild statements and an attack on
fellow socialists and communists who happen to be Iraqi? Your
statement, again without any consultation, is deliberately aimed at
Abdullah, and makes the assertion he supported the original invasion.
The StTW statement did not name him, but your statement may as well
have done, and is equally abhorrent as George’s article a few weeks
ago. Which is now an all too familiar approach of Respect and StTW,
and it now seems, surprisingly, the same approach used by you.
Your assertion that there was no attack on trade unions is not read in
the same way as myself or others. I suppose you have to make the
statement, even though you know it’s not really the reality of the
situation, because of the position you hold!! I suppose we will have
to disagree. I also think your name calling of good comrades in trade
unions, whose support we seek, for our anti-war position, in your
email/letter to me, when you assert the notion of their “bruised
feelings”, is at best showing scant regard to the very same trade
unionists, that actually put the notion of opposition to war on the
front pages of newspapers and helped develop the mass movement that we
now have. Prior to [that], it was really only some of us, as the
so-called usual suspects, that did this. These so-called bruised
people are central to winning our demands, and it now clearly shows a
lack of foresight on the bigger picture demands.
It is time that instead of name calling, being belligerent to others
in our movement, and worse, being arrogant and personal, was stopped,
it is not winning people over, it’s driving them away. It is creating
a split amongst all sections of the left. That was my original point,
ultra-leftist posturing and name calling never won anything, except
disrespect and avid followers of sectarianism. It is also the same
behaviour used often by the Blairtes. In fact one could assert your
actions are giving credence to the Blair war agenda, because you have
concentrated too much effort on the personalization and attacks on
good people, outwith your and the StTW’s remit. Instead of
concentrating on keeping a fragile coalition of left unity that is
united against the position of invasion, occupation and possible
further massacres that may happen in Fallujah and elsewhere, you are
creating a sectarian diversion that is weakening our opposition to
war, and further changing the foreign policy of the government.
The StTW statement and the other Respect articles that have been
written have lead to interference being made in unions, in a negative
way, and in one union in particular an attack on their General
Secretary in the run up to an election. However I have not heard a
denunciation of this, by you. I think it important to remind you of
the personal role that Dave played, in assisting me and others, in
pursuing the position we managed to achieve at the TUC, on war. His
was a crucial intervention, and helped pave the way for the position
we reached. He was also very supportive all the way through. Please
don’t tell me this has nothing to do with people in StTW or Respect
behind it, when we all know the reality of what really takes place in
life, and the reality of what is taking place in that union.
I also take exception that you think my actions are akin to splitting
the anti-war movement, from the trade unions (a similar charge you
made of Abdullah in you StTW statement). I suppose that is less
dangerous for me, than what it is for Abdullah, however, you and
others, undemocratically put out a statement, without any
consultation. You then expect it to be discussed some weeks after it
was sent out, and it contains some of the worst political vitriol, and
personalized character assassination, that would make an
ultra-leftie/new labour lovie pleased to sign up to. Please do not
accuse me for creating a split, by your own actions, you have not
consulted anyone, and you think no one then has the right to reproach
you, for your blatant disregard for decent movement principles. If
your politic has changed to accommodate the worst tendencies, by some
of the people you are working with, that have a reputation for
entering into at will this despicable and downright dangerous type of
dialogue, please do not expect me to follow you down that road, nor
support what you are saying, or even consult with you also.
Again I repeat the trade unions, after democratic and open debate in
their delegations, did what they did. Their delegations contained
decent socialists and trade unionists. They acted in a decent and
democratic fashion. Yes I may not agree, but I will not attack them
for the way they conducted themselves, with fairness, openness and
dialogue. What openness? What dialogue did you give to Abdullah in
your statement? What consultation, openness and dialogue did you give
to me in your statement? I also think it is rich, comrade, that you
are someone who has made a living out of the trade union and socialist
movement in Britain, you then think it correct for you to support an
attack on those same people.
I will always consider you a friend, I may disagree with your recent
shift in political analysis, and perhaps movement in your personal
politics too. I hope you understand where I am coming from, I have no
reason to harm the coalition or yourself, I think your own actions are
doing that. It is also harming the Morning Star. I just do not want to
be associated with the StTW, Respect Party political direction, of
repeated personalization and character assassination. Rather than
concentrating on the issues at hand, and fighting for peace and end to
the occupation and the establishment of free and democratic Iraq
state. Those are issues that unite us and the movement, however you
want to divide those issues, the issues that really matter, because of
you and your supporter’s journey into areas and territory that are not
the business of the StTW, but of the Iraqi people themselves. You are
indeed doing Blair’s job, better than what he could have ever
expected. The old saying comes to mind, snatching defeat from the jaws
of victory!!!
You and your comrades can make what ever statement you care to like
about me, I am not so sure that people will really be that interested.
I think you all have totally alienated people, with the myths and
falsehoods, and character assassinations that you are peddling. I also
could not care less, whether I am notified in advance, or have prior
sight of any statement, that is made about me, by the StWC/Respect/SWP
alliance. I have had enough personal attacks and statements written
about me that could be used to wallpaper our flat, that one more
incorrect, rant will not make any difference at all. I feel the whole
event of the StWC statement, the sneaky and untruthful way that it has
been peddled, and your subsequent letter to me, are very much in the
same realms of fantasy and in the same journalistic category that one
expects from a Jimmy Barnes diatribe. I just feel totally saddened and
disgusted that someone of your calibre can descend into this type of
ya boo politic, you are indeed usually smarter than that, and I think
you have allowed anger and poor judgment, and poor allegiance, to
cloud your usual good thinking.
I would also assert that if you wish to support the aims of
Respect/SWP whose real intention was to support the aims of the StWC
statement that promotes “an end to the occupation and withdrawal of
troops by any means possible” is bordering on the lunatic. I am sorry
if you think I am going to sit back and agree with beheadings,
kidnappings, torture and brutality, and out right terrorization of
ordinary Iraqi and others, then you can forget it, I will not be
involved whatsoever, to me it is akin to supporting the same brutality
and oppression inflicted on Iraq by Saddam, and the invading and
occupying forces of the USA.
It gives me no great satisfaction in replying to you in these lengthy
terms. I have always had a high regard for you as a friend and
comrade, however I understand your position, and what you have to do
to protect the StWC/George/Respect/SWP alliance. So be it. I just hope
that you understand I will not stand by and say or do nothing, when
decent trade unionists and socialists in the UK and good committed
socialists and trade unionists in Iraq or elsewhere are being
attacked, by people who politically have made alliances with and are
supporting religious fanatics and people who are basically against
everything that our movement really stands for.
I still repeat my original assertions, Abdullah should receive an
apology for the attack that has been made. You should stand by the
same demands, that you make of Blair, when you are wrong, there is
nothing wrong with admitting it and saying you are sorry,
unfortunately I think you may all be a little similar in this matter.
You say the door is always open, comrade, the same olive branch from
me to you, also applies, always will.