The leader of the Labour party is tainting the rest of us with the toxic Stoppers

by Rob Marchant

Once upon a time, the Labour party was an outward-looking, internationalist party which believed in solidarity with peoples across the globe. We have surely seldom been farther from that position than we are right now.

Tomorrow, Jeremy Corbyn will get up to speak at the annual dinner of the organisation which, until three months ago, he chaired. It is, of course, the Stop the War Coalition.

While it was founded in 2001 as a broad-based response to proposed British action in Afghanistan, pulling in a number of mainstream politicians at the time, it was later predictably taken over by the far left and has since wandered so far as to be practically off the political map.

Normal though it may be for the party leader to speak at a wide number of party fringes at annual conference, for example, it is not so normal to speak at an organisation whose affiliations and political positions are so widely criticised, not just by opposing parties but by a good number of his own MPs.

Take, for example, Tristram Hunt’s comment last weekend, that the organisation was “disreputable”. This was no idle criticism, by the way: the Stoppers have recently had to pull two different pieces from their phenomenally ill-edited website, expressing views which are at the very least damaging to it (and by extension Corbyn and the Labour Party), and which many would find abhorrent.

The first, on Nov 15 after the Paris attacks, read “Paris reaps whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in Middle East”. In other words, it was the French’s fault for trying to stop ISIS. It was, as Mary Creagh MP pointed out, “a masterclass in woolly thinking, reflexive anti-Americanism and victim blaming”.

The second, on Dec 4, praised the “internationalism and solidarity” of – you’ve guessed it – ISIS, the same genocidal death cult. Luckily, on both occasions, screenshots and web caches were saved before they were deleted.

But this is not the first time the Stoppers have pulled pieces: last year I wrote about a similar example of a similarly ghastly text, accusing Western governments of creating “a false story of a massive Yazidi crisis”. False, of course, until incontrovertible evidence emerged of mass killing, raping and abduction of Yazidis.

The Stoppers inevitably hide behind the fact they are a collective, with individual contributors, whose views do not represent those of the organisation, and so on and so forth. This “cell division” always serves the far left well in terms of abdicating responsibility for any outcry when their members say unpardonable things. As they invariably do.

Now, their members are clearly varied and some are still decent. For example, there are understandable overlaps between the Greens, who many see as a group of well-meaning eco-liberals. But it is also true that they are a strictly minority party and, like most minority parties, have poorly-developed disciplinary procedures to ensure that party representatives do not bring it into disrepute. In other words, like UKIP or Respect, it’s a lot more likely to contain nut-cases.

All the more extraordinary, then, to find that that minority party’s only MP, Caroline Lucas, quit Stop the War, quite reasonably citing her differences with it on policy. In other words, she was embarrassed by them. In contrast, the leader of the Labour Party, in speaking to his fellow Stoppers on Friday, clearly shows no such qualms.

In short, as former MP Tom Harris pointed out, the Greens are now officially “more sensible and moderate than us”. Lord help us.

But why is all this damaging? It is not so much that Corbyn’s admission that he couldn’t think of circumstances when he would support British intervention anywhere, ever, rankles with much of the British public (although it clearly does: we are not a nation of pacifists).

It is that his continued association – irrespective of being its chair or not – with the Stoppers means associating our great party with an organisation which could be at best described as nutty and at worst as apologists for some of the greatest fascists of our age: Putin, Assad, and even ISIS. And it also points up what the world already knows: that Corbyn is only tempering his words because of his new position: his real views coincide entirely with those of the organisation he used to chair.

But could it be getting even worse since he handed over? Quite probably. We might note that the replacement of Labour’s Corbyn as chair by Andrew Murray, chief of staff for Unite leader Len McCluskey and one of the last surviving members of the Communist Party of Britain, does not exactly bode well for the direction of the organisation.

As chair, Corbyn may have been a mere backbencher on the far left of his party, but at least it was a mainstream party. Politically, Murray cuts a practically lone figure, with precious little pressure to keep the organisation on any kind of straight and narrow. Oh, and he’s rather keen on Stalin (yes, the mass-murderer), as Oliver Kamm notes here, as well as a big fan of North Korea. Another patron, Kamal Majid, is a founder member of the Stalin Society.

That is the kind of organisation we are talking about, with which the Labour Party leadership now freely associates.

In an otherwise somewhat depressing couple of weeks for Labour’s moderates, there was at least one ray of sunshine: Hilary Benn’s unforgettable speech in the Syria debate to remind us what the history of the party’s foreign policy is really about.

It is not about pacifism. Apart from Lansbury’s brief tenure as leader in the 30s, it never was. And neither, noting the Stoppers remarkable slowness in criticising military action by non-Western powers, was it ever about their strange pseudo-pacifism, only protesting action by the West.

It is about internationalism. It is about Ernie Bevin’s foreign policy “to take a ticket at Victoria station and go anywhere I damn well please”. It is about the party who helped found the United Nations and which was happy for Britain to stand alone against the Nazis in World War Two, risking everything to defend its way of life. And which also stood against the USSR, when it turned against the West.

We should remember that on Friday, when our leader stands up with the Stalinists.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour Party manager who blogs at The Centre Left

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17 Responses to “The leader of the Labour party is tainting the rest of us with the toxic Stoppers”

  1. paul barker says:

    Is this just getting something off your chest or do you have any strategy for moving Labour back to the Centre ? If you dont have a plan to defeat The Left then you are simply providing them with cover.

  2. Frederick James says:

    Rob: all this is of course correct but what you are overlooking is that Corbyn’s terrorist love, his hatred for his country, his immaturity and stupidity are all priced in by now. You can expose his nastiness all you like but the rag-tag assortment of cannabis-addled ageing hippies, thuggish ’80s throwbacks and cosseted gap-year trustafarians either don’t care or think of it as desirable terrorist chic. Being a Corbynista is a fashion statement.

    These people are stupid, brain-damaged or designedly malignant and none of these things is susceptible to argument. The real guilt lies with the appeasers who know better: Benn, Eagle, intellectual titan Lucy Powell, and above all the craven, unprincipled and contemptible Bendy Andy Burnham, for propping Corbyn up in the vain hope they can persuade Corbyn’s pet thugs to let them keep their jobs in 2020.

    Seldom can short-term financial calculation have so visibly trumped malleable principle and these cowards’ names will live in infamy in the future history of your dying party.

  3. Jonathan da Silva says:

    Lots of assertions and essentially saying the leader’s views are outside the Overton Window but I have no real arguments – for instance whilst the Stoppers may be remarkably coarse the blowback from middle east adventures would certainly be accepted by the security services – this does not make their Paris comments any less nasty but to use a ridiculous denial of intelligence community analysis hardly makes you right however popular it may make you feel.

    Neither Labour side seems capable of engaging in any way in a debate based on anything real. That an argument is backed not with a nice sounding sentence that labels someone else i.e. I believe this because facts and interpretation but will change my mind for evidence.

    Does anyone believe you’d be pushing 37% with Burnham or Cooper or Kendall, yes the make up of the vote would be different but…. I do agree being too close to any pressure group is wrong for a mainstream party. Corbyn’s saying he would ‘consult’ STW when a simple ‘listen’ would have been better language regardless of what he did stupid.

    Not being Blair is all very well but not having sane critical media specialists is ridiculous.

  4. Frederick James says:

    Oh… and what paul barker said. Spot on.

  5. Leftleaner says:

    Hey! This is the best Tory blog in the world!

  6. Feodor says:

    Red baiting and historical revisionism, combined with a rather ponderous writing style, sure does make for an excellent piece of political analysis…

    If only we all had Rob’s vision, then Labour wouldn’t be in the mess that it is now!?

  7. Tafia says:

    You need to grow up and stop whining about Stop The War and start asking questions asd to why after 25 years of non-stop military aggression across the middle east and north africa, all the west has succeeded in doing is turning a bad situation into a chaotic slaughterhouse. Ayt the same time you may like to ask what exactly the end game was supposed to be for Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and now Syria – because no politician would be that wank that they would have done this all by mistake – that would be an ineptitude on a colossal scale.

    All you lot are doing is demanding something mnust be done because you are to cowardly to be seen to be doing nothing. You have no idea what you are trying to achieve, no idea how long, no idea how much, no idea about what your allies are doing* – in fact no idea about very much at all really.

    * and you dont have any idea about what your allies are doing, in the main because they can’t be arsed to tell you. While the big debate was going in in Parliament, the US announced the immediate withdrawal of 7 combat aircraft from the theatre and the accelration of it’s planned downscaling. So you halkf-wittedly trooped into a war that the main player – the US, has no intention of remaining in and is accelerating it’s exit. So you were already doomed to failure before the first sortie left Cyprus.

  8. Mike Homfray says:

    Isn’t it about time you finally realised that its curtains for your sort of Not Labour party, and found somewhere else to belong?
    Because Blairism is dead and won’t be revived – at least not by the Labour Party. The Tories may be a better bet for you.

    At least despite the ridiculous hyperbole of his cliche ridden, insincere showboating, it was mostly Tory MP’s who appreciated Benn’s speech , and most Labour MP’s – even the current bunch – voted against bombing.

    Any decent party would have voted 100% against

  9. John P Reid says:

    Left leaner and the Tories think the comment section,on Socialist unity,is th best labour blog in the world,where corbyn supporters cry, at the death of their heroes Mao and Stalin, as it instantly gives the Tories millions of votes

  10. swatantra says:

    There can be no talking with these ‘Daesh’ Murderers. You do not negotiate with lunatics.
    So JC is deluded and wrong. You can only defeat them with troops o the ground, and that may mean British Troops as part of a UN contingent. Bombing is not going to stop them. You have to take them out, one by ne, in the streets of Syria, or wherever they choose to strike., even in the streets of London.

  11. leslie48 says:

    Absolutely Rob, be quite assured if it was not for Hilary Benn’s speech re-asserting our internationalist Labour Values and Parliament applauding him some of us would have left the party by now. But Corbyn’s damage is severe and even Miliband does not get it when he asks for acquiescence ; politically Ed is incredibly mistaken because the deep damage done by Corbyn’s position on these defence and security matters will be frequently paraded by the Tory party and become a repeated spectacle across all the press and TV channels. The voters are not with him. Morally of course Corbyn and his crowd are wrong as the threat now is about a far reaching enemy committing crimes against humanity and whose uncompromising intention is the destruction of our democratic and Christian civilisation.

  12. Nick Wall says:

    This is hilarious. Corbyn’s expected to take lessons in how to choose his friends by Rob Marchant, a former banker and management consultant who lists among his clients Pepsi Co, one of the world’s less savoury brands.

  13. John R says:

    All the embarrassing articles that “Stop the War” don’t want to be reminded of (e.g. Paris and Isis = International Brigades) have been purged from their website.

    Luckily, someone has compiled them.

  14. septicisle says:

    That’s a great link John R, not least because anyone who bothers to actually read the articles Rob Marchant clutches the bedsheets over will see that beyond the inflammatory headline of the first and taken out of context quote from the second, both are articles that make cogent points. But then Rob and the rest of the decents, seeing as he calls anyone who thinks the last 14 years of non-stop war hasn’t been that great a success, aren’t interested in facts as opposed to distortions.

  15. John R says:

    Septicisle, you’re welcome! In fact, the Stopper articles are so innocuous you wonder why they’ve spent so much time deleting them from their website.

    Here are a couple more links for you where John Rees shows how he would have “welcomed” Saddam winning the Iraq war and the Morning Star wishes NATO would help Russia back up Assad. Note, Andrew Murray, Chair of STWC, is a member of the CPB.

    “Socialists want the defeat of imperialism and the victory of the Iraqi working class. We oppose our own imperialist governments, hoping for their defeat. If defeat had come at Saddam’s hands we would still have welcomed it. But we hoped for it at the hands of Iraqi workers who could have both crushed Saddam and proved far better opponents of imperialism.” – John Rees (Counterfire and Stop the War)

    “Russia has deployed aerial firepower in Syria, but only in support of Syrian army ground operations, backed by its Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies, and these troops have scored substantial victories recently, driving back terrorist forces.

    Were the Nato allies ready to co-operate with Moscow and regional forces at the sharp end of countering Isis, the days of the death cult could be numbered.” -Morning Star

  16. John R says:

    Btw, if John Rees is so opposed to “our own imperialist governments” and would welcome their defeat, would he really want the victory of Isis via a vis the UK and U.S.?

    Would he have “welcomed” the defeat of the Americans when they assisted in the defence of Kobane last year?

  17. Tafia says:

    If you don’t have the desire to stick a bayonet in someone’s belly, push down to slice their intestines, withdraw it and move on with enthusiasm and desire to the next target, then you have no right to expect other people to do it for you.

    As I said on another post, the Kurds take volunteers up to the age of 70. If you have such a desire to stop ISIS then you have no excuses not to have booked your flight to Turkey other than cowardice.

    I was in the infantry for 22 years. War is a warped type of fun in a weird sort of way – the ultimate challenge. If you think it’s the answer and you are physically capable, then if you don’t join in with gusto yourself then you are a coward.

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