Contribution by LFIQ Director Gary Kent to LFIQ meeting at Commons

You don’t have to go back on opposing or supporting the war to understand that things have changed in Iraq. Against the odds, brave comrades are setting up a new trade union movement.
A healthy labour movement in Britain would make it a key task to provide maximum solidarity to its sisters and brothers in Iraq who face a serious threat to their independence from the Iraqi Government as well as from terrorism.
It’s high time that the British left and unions followed the example of unions such as Unison, the FBU and the RMT in doing all they can to build solidarity with Iraqi unions. The FBU has provided fire fighting equipment. Unison is providing training. The TUC is running a solidarity fund and hosting trips by visiting delegations.
As time goes by and the security situation allows, we should be seeing more such exchanges. We need to find ways of twinning and running human scale solidarity operations that personalise the effort.
We need to be more imaginative. I would highlight the Books to Iraq initiative too.
Yet too many on the left are sitting on their hands in the mistaken belief that supporting Iraqi labour helps Bush.
It’s reasonable for people to say that one would not have started from here but the fall of Saddam’s despised dictatorship has allowed progressive forces in Iraq a chance to rebuild the labour movement which was once one of the most powerful in the region.
The Iraqi Communist Party rightly chides the international left on this issue and says: “We have to note, with regret, that the Iraqi democratic forces have not received, in their difficult struggle, effective solidarity and support from international forces of the left. As a result, most of the latter have unfortunately been rendered observers of events, rather than exerting positive influence on the ongoing struggle over the future course of developments in Iraq, especially in supporting the struggle for a democratic prospect, at a time when the Iraqi patriotic and democratic forces are in urgent need for such concrete and multifarious support and solidarity.”
Worse still are those parts of the left which practice a form of the anti-imperialism of fools and support, sometimes explicitly, the “resistance” in Iraq.
The stakes are very high. Increased power for the labour movement in Iraq, as well as other parts of civil society increases the possibility that Iraq can succeed with its democratic experiment and expel extremism from the body politic. The rise of a non-sectarian politics can maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq.
A democracy in Iraq could begin to change the face of the region as a whole and thereby begin to unravel the base of the jihadist ideologies and movements which wish to foment conflict between the world of Islam and others.