Socialist Worker’s U-Turn

Gary Kent examines the zig-zags of the SWP and corrects himself too
The SWP’s report of the recent Stop the War conference quotes one union official as saying that some people who supported the war were now trying to use the issue of solidarity to justify the occupation.

It may suit the SWP to divide the labour movement into the unsullied who opposed the war and the “warmongers” who supported it. It may suit their sectarian aims to ignore those on the left who didn’t oppose the war because they could see no other way that a fascist-type dictatorship could be overthrown and took advantage of external intervention, as the Iraqi Kurds had done for over a decade when they were able to build a thriving society away from Saddam’s chemical weapons and tanks.
The solidarity movement with Iraqi trade unions must be open to people who honourably took different positions on the war. LFIQ brings together activists who took different views and we seek to unite the labour movement here in favour of the labour movement there.
But nothing should conceal the fact that Socialist Worker is rather new to this task. It was only a few months ago that it was abusing the largest Iraqi union as “fake” and collaborationist and its leaders endorsed the view that genuine trades unionism was impossible under occupation. The presence of a variety of Iraqi trade unionists at recent events disproved this nonsense.
Older readers will not be surprised by the U-turn. The SWP does a lot of this zigzagging. During the 80’s miners’ strike, the SWP denounced as nothing but ‘left-wing Oxfam’ the support groups which sprang up all over the country in response to miners’ needs for food and money. During the strike, the SWP’s theorisings isolated them from anyone with a half-decent political instinct who soon got down to work in support of the miners and so they changed the line. The comrades took to assembling food parcels as though they had been born to it. Then as now, we should, I suppose, welcome sinners who repent.
And while we’re talking about repentance, I should add my own apology for a mistake and thank the alert reader who so swiftly let me know, although he added that “If this is the kind of egregious error Mr Kent can make over such a straightforward story, then it calls into question the rest of what gets posted on this site.”
He’s perfectly entitled to his fun at my expense but we shall leave it to our readers to judge the quality of our postings. I originally misread the SW report as referring to the TUC conference rather than the STWC conference. It’s my mistake but doesn’t alter the fact that the SWP and its allies are now saying different things about trade union solidarity than they were only a few weeks back.