No Room For Critical Voices: Welcome to the New Stop the War Coalition

October 28, 2007 at 1:42 am (Free Speech, good people, Iran, LGBT, SWP, thuggery, TWP, women, youth)

I will preface this report on the conference by saying that the following are my impressions and my impressions alone. I have tried to provide direct quotes as I wrote them down during the discussion in an attempt to ensure accuracy. I hope they will be useful in providing one account of the conference and what was done to fight against the exclusion, abuse and shutting down of dissenting voices regarding the Iranian regime and other important issues. I was very disappointed overall but took heart from the principled stands of numerous Left groups and think there is still a lot of work to be done within the StWC to defend the best traditions of the labour movement and oppose tyranny and oppression in Iran whilst also opposing imperialist aggression.

I arrived around 9am and met the folks from HOPI and began to try and help hand out leaflets including to our four strong contingent from my university. I made the decision to sit with my uni contingent throughout which actually gave an interesting perspective as most of the opposition to the exclusion (CPGB, AWL, etc.) were sitting to the left of the stage and the majority were sitting in the middle and to the right of the stage.

The affair was rather similar to SWP organised events that I had participated in the past with panel after panel of speakers with no time allotted for discussion except when it came to resolutions.

However before this began, Andrew Murray decided to take a motion to allow a separate vote on the exclusion of HOPI and Communist Students on the basis that they were both against the aims of the StWC (a blatant falsehood) and a front-group for the CPGB – a very odd claim as the CPGB was accepted as an affiliate so even if it were a group solely made up of CPGB members, the logical conclusion would be to exclude the CPGB as an organisation as well which did not occur.

Ben Lewis and Yasmine Mather both spoke for about 5 minutes each in defence of Communist Students and HOPI respectively before being lambasted by Murray – including the use of an old article that Yasmine had written which had been specially translated for the conference – or so we were told by Murray himself.

In any case, all of this went rather smoothly despite being a contentious issue. The vote was about 40 or so voting with CS and HOPI and the remaining 300 or so who were there voting with the majority. This was very disappointing but not surprising. Revo, PR, members of the SYN, the AWL and others took the principled stand and voted against exclusion and this in and of itself was a positive step. It showed that organisationally, if not numerically, a good number of the Left groups represented there voted against the exclusion, whatever their differences with CS or HOPI. Now perhaps that’s because they believe they might be next – and indeed the dodgy reasoning behind the exclusion means that any far left group that is deemed by Murray and others to not be supporting the “correct line” of the coalition can be booted out. I’m afraid that this is not the last time we will see bureaucratic manoeuvring of this sort and it severely limits the room for critical voices to be heard within the organisation.

Murray claimed adamantly that the exclusion was not based on HOPI’s principled stand against the Ahmedinejad regime, however one of the platform speakers during the discussion on Iran made it clear that the “line” was that so-called lies about Iran would need to be eradicated within the movement.

The most disturbing part of the conference for me was when Somaya Zadeh from Campaign Iran spoke. She began by saying that she was going to go over the “facts” about the regime as opposed to the “lies” that the media tells. She began humbly enough with the easy ones. Obviously one agrees that the idea that Iran would give support to the Taliban is “laughable” if one knows anything about the history of the area. Less convincing was the contention that Iran was not seeking to get nuclear weapons. Then she openly defended Ahmedinejad about the comments on Israel saying that he was actually talking about “internal regime change” – this was echoed later by Galloway. Zadeh went on to quote Khomeini saying “Iran will never attack another country” and that she believed this was true.

She went on for a time at great pains to prove that Iran was not “anti-Semitic” with the contention that “Iranian Jews are actually quite privileged”. By this point I am sure I wasn’t the only one who was well aware that this was becoming nothing more than an apology for the Iranian regime.

“Lie Number 5” we were told “Is that Iran is an undemocratic country”. This was met with laughter and heckling from a number of people in the crowd at which point Zadeh began to be rather flustered – asserting her statements more forcefully. When she claimed that Iran was actually democratic as evidenced by the 82 percent victory Ahmedinejad secured a member of the CPGB shouted out “You’re an apologist for the Iranian regime!” Somaya replied in her defence that she was an “Iranian refugee” and therefore knew more about the situation than others. Members of the majority applauded furiously.

What happened next and what followed was utterly appalling. Zadeh’s next contention was that although there were “problems with homosexuals” that “sex changes are allowed”. This was met with a lot of heckling, myself included. It was incredibly offensive to anyone on the room who is a supporter of LGBT rights to hear such nonsense being spewed. Suddenly and rather loudly Zaid Maham (Ed. this was corrected due to someone pointing out his correct name and organisation in the comments) who is in Oxford Stop the War yelled at the HOPI contingent, students and SYN activists who were seated not far from him to “Shut up!” A number of people were somewhat taken aback but he then continued shouting “You stupid bloody bigots! Fuck off!”

Instead of being ejected for such offensive behaviour, Andrew Murray as the chair merely said “Everyone please let’s calm down over there”. I was very appalled. Further I spoke to one of the young women who was yelled at who is an activist and said she was offended by the implication that people could not be openly LGBT but could get a sex change – so that was ok. She was rather shaken up, sitting outside and said to me “I don’t want to go back in there until the voting is over. I can’t believe that guy said that to us!” She thought the guy was out of line and wanted him to apologise. I told her she should try to speak to someone and she went up to Chris Nineham. He said to her “What are you talking about? I didn’t hear anything.” When she tried to explain he said to her “It’s not our problem, why don’t you go speak to him yourself” and then quickly walked away.

This was disingenuous. Everyone had heard what had happened unless they hadn’t been in the room. Further, the abusive Maham later put a resolution to the conference from Oxford StW and was obviously known to the “leadership”.

Eventually she did speak to Andrew Murray who told her that they objected to the term “bigot” but that there was nothing they could do. It appeared that they could’ve cared less that young female and LGBT activists felt they had to sit outside or leave the room in disgust (as others did) at having to listen to these blatant untruths about Iran and then be verbally abused for opposing them.

The next speaker from CODIR was much better and actually highlighted the problems with the regime to the applause of myself and a number of others – but not John Rees who had enthusiastically responded to Zadeh from Campaign Iran.

A number of resolutions were passed including a good one by Andy Newman on campaigning amongst young people who are being recruited (though I was glad his constant refrain of ‘young men’ was corrected by an SYN activist who pointed out that many women are recruited as well). Sofie Buckland earned an enormous amount of my respect for standing up to a crowd of jeering, heckling men – so much so that it was difficult to hear her and Murray had to call for order – and opposing the resolution on Palestine because of its inclusion of support for “boycotts” and “sanctions”. While I didn’t agree with her statement about “anti-semitism” I thought Murray’s use of the chair to deride her for using the term while having said nothing to Maham about his behaviour was a bit cheap.

From the comments of a number of floor speakers for and against various resolutions who were supporting the line of the majority it was possible to come out of this conference making the following conclusions:

*Any attack on Iran must be opposed, but opposition to the regime is not to be discussed in the coalition

*Apologies for the Iranian regime will be tolerated and any attempt to refute these will be met with accusations that you are supporting the “lies” peddled by the media

*Abusive shouting will be tolerated so long as you are on the side of the majority

*Any failure to agree with the majority line on a variety of issues may mean that your organisation may be denied affiliation at the next conference

This is what we now have to work with comrades – Welcome to the New Stop the War Coalition……


  1. voltaires_priest said,

    Absolutely shocking – but a reminder of the sort of thuggish anti-politics and unprincipled deal-making that brought us Respect.

  2. Andy Newman said,

    Thanks for the kind remarks. With regard to women, it was not gender blindness on my part, but there are only around 7000 women in the British Army, compared to 200000 in the US army, and they are less than 7% of the total – what is more they are prohibited from combat roles, so a lot of the issues to do with how appalling the levels of combat related mental illness, wounding, etc do not apply to them.

    The priority really should be on targetting young men not to join the army.

    Actually, one of the most oppressed groups of women are the wives and girlfriends of soldiers – and there probaby should be a seperate information campaign about how amazingly badly they are treated.

    Zaid is not in the SWP by the way.

    There may have been an unfortunate proximity between the discussion of the repression of gay rights in Iran, and the availabity of sex change operations. BUt there was no implication that the issues were linked, other than that the Theocracy is more complex than people suppose.

    Generally your take on the conferene is a bit mistaken I think. There is no desire to suppress debate, there has been a lot of tolerance over the years of the CPGB-ML wrong-headed arguments about supporting the resistance, although they are always soundly voted down, becasue the CPGB-ML comrades i) get stuck into actually working constructively to build the anti war movement; ii) don’t misbehave – heckling and disrupting.

    What we don’t need are far left groups who want to use the Colaition, and its working conferences, as a platform for promoting themselves.

    And Ahmedinejad did not in fact say he wanted to wipe Israel of the map, and as this lie is repeated so often by the pro-war propagandists we do have a duty to point out it is a lie.

    He said Zionism should be erased from the page of history. Which makes no implictation of any hostile military intent from Iran towards Israel.

  3. stroppybird said,


    Surely lots of groups use the coalition to promote themselves ? Don’t the SWP and Respect?

    I wasn’t there, but the report from Tami is worrying. Even if the link was not that lesbian and gay people can get a sex change, the word ‘proble’ is surely a massive understatement in terms of what life is like for lesbian and gay people living under a theocracy.

    I do think those who oppose attacks on Iran (as I do) must also make clear they do not support the regime but they do support the people of Iran who are oppressed with it and support them in their struggle to overthrow it. Otherwise we all come across as apologists for the Iranian regime . What does that say to those who are oppressed, women, LGBT people, trade unionsists, communists.

  4. voltaires_priest said,

    I think what TWP is saying, is that there was a not inconsiderable amount of abuse from the “majority”, whatever the make-up of that group.

    As for the point about sex changes, I wasn’t at the conference but “unfortunate” isn’t the word that springs to mind. Shocking, is.

  5. stroppybird said,

    It seems to me its trying to defend the indefensible re the Iranian record on LBGT and women’s rights.

    Am I very naive but why can’t we argue no war and still say we support the oppressed people in Iran and their striggle to overthrow it. It seems otherwise we abandon those people.

    Do we think people are to stupid to understand that ?

    So if we criticise the Iranian regime that has to mean we give support to Bush and Blair? I would suggest that if we keep quite about such things we only discredit the left further.

  6. stroppybird said,

    Sorry , typos !

  7. Jim Denham said,

    Andy: there can be little doubt about Ahmadinajad’s meaning, even granting (which I’m not necessarily willing to do) that he said something like “wiped from the pages of history” rather than “wiped from the face of the earth”. And he’s repeated that sentiment: he recently suggested “moving” Israel to an uninhabited part of the world…sound familiar?
    What amazes me is that people of the “left” seem so keen to excuse his blatant anti-semitism, against all the evidence. I can’t imagine any other sort of racism being excused so determinedly and repeatedly by people who like to think of themselves as anti-racist. The suspicion has to be that part of te reason is that some of the “deniars” (and I don’t include you, Andy) are actually quite sympathetic to what Ahmadinajad is saying, so long as he keeps it decently ambigious.

  8. modernityblog said,


    very informative and direct post, I am glad I wasn’t there, another stitch up.

    Stroppy is correct, the none too subtle difference between the idiocy of the StWC’s position and the one that socialists should take up is: no attack on Iran, critical of the regime and supportive of the people of Iran

    Jim’s dealt with the Ahmadinejad’s comments and highlights a worrying tendency for some “socialists” to defend the antisemitic rantings of the Iranian President, even the SWP is prepared to acknowledge Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s racism, so why can’t Andy Newman?

    Incidentally, it is possible to search the Iranian President’s web site and get the precise wording that he uses, he made several speeches with the general point and bearing in mind that Farsi is a distinctly flowery language, it is the implication of his words that are most important.

    What a decline? nowadays even some “socialists” are apologising for right-wingers like Ahmadinejad

  9. Ann On said,

    “I do think those who oppose attacks on Iran (as I do) must also make clear they do not support the regime ” why ? I don’t see why there should be any preconditions on opposing the likely bombing raids on Iran – they will be a bloody , desparate and unpopular act by the Bush govt, likely supported (in a low key way – use of bases, lack of criticism, maybe help with air2air refuelling) by Brown. STWC will need to move quickly to organise demos etc to try and stop the raids – they don’t need to prove where they stand on IRan’s rulers first. And while I imagine the vast majority of those who oppose bombing Iran are not sympathetic to Ahmadinejad’s govt, maybe some are – so what ? the important thing here is opposing the attack on Iran, surely.

  10. stroppybird said,

    Ann On

    Because the regime is oppressive to women, LGBT, communists, trade unionists etc etc.
    It is important to state why we are against a war, and that it is not because we support the current regime. If not the left again look like apologists for oppression and how then do we build credability for the sort of society we want. How do we build trust if we cannot be open and honest.

    It was the same with Iraq. I am not going to defend Saddam, but will criticise the invasion. I will also criticise what the so called resistance do to its own people , in particular LGBT people and women. That does not mean I do not also call for troops out .

    Why is it so difficult to say we are against an invasion of Iran, yes its a nasty reactionary regime and we support those in struggle??

    May not fit a neat slogan, but life is not neat.

  11. stroppybird said,

    Oh and I think its equally important people, such as a teenage girl strung up from a lamppost for the ‘crime’ of being abused, as well.

    Call me a wuss if you like, but I happen to care about people who don’t have the luxury of bickering on the internet and posturing the right line.

  12. babeuf said,

    Do you realise that your account of Somaya Zadeh’s speech contains an outrageous libel?

    She did not advocate sex change as the solution to the oppression of LBGT persons in Iran. She was pointing out that the Iranian regime was not uniformly committed to LBGT oppression, that on the one hand it oppressed gays and lesbians while on the other it allowed sex changes (the “T” of LBGT).

    You have every right to disagree with SZ’s politics, but you don’t have the right to discredit an opponent by publishing falsehoods if you want to retain any credibility yourself.

    A retraction and apology are in order.

  13. stroppybird said,

    Argh, my comment was supposed to say

    Oh and I think its equally important people condemn the Iranian regime’s actions , such as when a teenage girl strung was up from a lamppost for the ‘crime’ of being abused, as well.

    I need to go and lie down in a darkened room …

  14. Die grössten Kritiker der Elche « Entdinglichung said,

    […] scheint die SWP samt Anhang die Stop the War Coalition noch fest im Griff zu haben. Was tun also? Aus den Fehlern der Linken, welche sich in RESPECT begeben haben lernen (und […]

  15. modernityblog said,

    babeuf wrote:

    the Iranian regime was not uniformly committed to LBGT oppression,

    er, No?

    not uniformly committed? what precise evidence do you have of this?

    how does a few sex change operations imply that the Iranian theocracy doesn’t oppress Gays etc??

    you would need to work out why the Iranian theocracy permits sex change operations and on what reasoning, if, in fact, they do permit them

    or these operations just happen without their knowledge, because there is a subtle difference between the two

    the Iranian theocracy has shown that there quite happy to hang gays, beat them senseless and imprison them

    all of this is documented and can not be denied.

    So instead of attacking TWP, the defenders of the Iranian regime should address the question of how LBGTs are treated in Iran and apologise to TWP

  16. Claude said,

    babeuf – isn’t the reasoning of any actual or hypothetical religious (in particular, Jewish, Christian or Islamic) regime that promotes sex changes as the ‘solution’ to homosexuality pretty simple? Same sex attraction is a perversion against nature, therefore one should enable the unfortunates who feel that way to ‘correct’ matters by re-assigning their gender. Problem solved! To say the promotion of sex changes means ‘the Iranian regime’ is ‘not uniformly committed to LBGT oppression’ is therefore a non sequitor.

  17. Gene said,

    As I posted at Harry’s Place a couple of years ago, gays in Iran apparently have two choices: undergo a sex change or die.

  18. Gene said,

    One of the commenters at the Socialist Unity blog wrote:

    I also enjoyed the Communist Party speaker who pushed the resolution to adopt the slogan ‘Victory To The Resistance’ as an offical STW slogan. She spoke very well, I felt.

    Was this resolution approved?

  19. Johnny Rook said,

    If there’s one thing that modernityblog can’t handle, it’s dialectics

  20. Jim Denham said,

    My understanding of the Iranian regime’s majority position (as expressed by Ahmadinajad) on gay rights, is that they have none. And indeed, that there are no gays in Iran. The fact that Iran has one of the highest numbers (if not *the* highest number) of sex-change operations in the world, is *not* an expression of tolerance towards trans-gender people: it’s a manifestation of the regime’s intolerance towards gays. Gay people, according to the regime, are simply people trapped in the wrong body – therefore give them a sex-change operation and the problem is solved: no gays in Iran!

  21. Mike said,

    TWP – I think you must mean Zaid Maham, who’s a Stalinist from Oxford, not an SWP member but in Respect rather than the CPB becuse the latter aren’t Stalinist enough. But your assessment of him as a complete wanker is, in my opinion, spot on…!

  22. modernityblog said,

    Johnny Rook wrote:

    If there’s one thing that modernityblog can’t handle, it’s dialectics

    could you enlighten us?

    does the SWP consider that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has invoke any form of anti-Jewish racism in his speeches or other utterances?

    now Johnny, tell us, is it dialectical to deny plain evidence? or just politically convenient?

  23. twp77 said,

    I find this discussion very interesting and want to address the issue of “libel” straight off. In no sense are my comments “libelous” as I have given exact quotes from her speech. Anyone listening to the speech cannot deny that I have provided a direct quote.

    I maintain that the intention of those two sentences in succession was to imply that the Ahmedinejad regime was not that bad on LGBT issues. Her statement was clear – it is not that bad beause sex changes are allowed. Anyone who knows anything about the way LGBT people are treated in Iran know that sex changes in Iran are forced on people who are gay precisely because they are not allowed to love people of the same sex without facing execution. Her statement was an explicit attempt to conflate the two items and make it appear as though the regime was some how progressive for “allowing” sex changes.

    I refuse to issue any sort of apology whatsoever and will continue to call this exactly how I and a number of others at the conference saw it – as a blatant attempt to excuse the violent and reactionary oppression of the LGBT comunity in Iran.

  24. Stop the War Coalition tells gay campaigners to fuck off « The Bristol Blogger said,

    […] Shiraz Socialist supplies an interesting account of yesterday’s Stop the War Coalition Annual Conference where Iranian leftists – Hands off the people of Iran (HOPI) – and any other critics of the Iranian regime were forced out of the organisation by supporters of the coalition’s chair, Stalin apologist Andrew Murray. […]

  25. twp77 said,

    By the way, it is useful for others interested in this debate to pop over to Socialist Unity blog and view additional comments there from a Green Party delegate and a delegate from PR who had a very similar view of the conference and Zadeh’s comments in particular.

  26. modernityblog said,

    I have been avidly following it on SU and am disgusted at Andy Newman’s attack on TWP

    and his bizarre comments on LBGT in Iran and the implications

    I was going to say it’s a shame that that StWC was televised via YouTube and a cheap video camera

    but I can see that the organisers wouldn’t want any authoritive record of events, just in case it contradicted their post conference justifications

    it is a shame that SU blog has to argue these issues in such bad faith, perhaps it should be renamed to Socialist Dis-unity blog

  27. stroppybird said,

    I think people are getting hung up on whether the speaker was implying that its ok because gay people can have a sex change.

    Even if that wasn’y what she said it still sounds like an apology for a repressive regime. So lets say, for arguments sake, she was pointing out how wonderful it is that people can have sex changes (and if the number is so much higher than other places I am curious as to why that is the case). That still leaves us with , as she puts it in what does not sound very ringing condemnation, the torture, reperssion and hanging of people for being lesbian and gay, a president who denies they exist in Iran. We still have a regime that oppresses women , trade unionists and communists. But hey, I missed that its really a democracy, so perhaps people are happy over there!

    Socialists should be in solidarity with those oppressed with the regime, not make excuses or downplay it. We can still oppose a war at the same time. If we don’t we are colluding with the oppression and downplaying the reality for many in Iran, who as I say, can’t have these nice little debates on the internet .

    Why is this so difficult for people to do !!

  28. stroppybird said,

    Meant to say, even if she was not making a connection ibetween the sex changes and policy on lesbian and gay people, it still sounds weak on condemiing the murders and repression of lesbian and gay people.

  29. Bluebaldee said,

    A view from the outside:

    Stop the War Coalition seems to be an unholy marriage of homophobes, anti-semites and aplogists for an oppressive theocracy. It also seems that the movement is highly undemocratic and run by egos.

    I suppose that’s why attendance at STWC marches is dwindling and the movement is becoming more and more irrelevant.

  30. modernityblog said,


    that is surely the problem, in the grand scheme of contemporary “anti-imperialism” the question of
    lesbians, bisexuals, Gays and transgender rights doesn’t figuratively exist

    are the rights of women and LBGT is just another shibboleth, something to do be dispensed with when balanced out against supporting the “glorious” Iranian theocracy?

    after denying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Jewish racism, I am suppose that the likes of Andy Newman will now tell us that President Ahmadinejad didn’t invite a bunch of neo-Nazis to Tehran for a Holocaust denying conference?

    it is plainly lying in the face of reality, these events took place

    we know they took place and socialists should not try to lie or apologise for the Iranian theocracy

    that is what so despicable, to assume a few lies about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the regime will whitewash its appalling record of attacks on trade unionists, women, gays, liberal and secular opposition, just for the sake of ersatz “anti-imperialism”

    THAT is why the Left is in such a state: transparent lies, stupidity and lack of basic principles, all for the sake of sucking up to the Iranian theocracy, what a shambles

  31. modernityblog said,


    can you release one of my posts from moderation? I think it got stuck there?

  32. stroppybird said,

    Before people jump on Bluebaldee and say that he or she is wrong etc etc take on board this may be the impression stwc coalition is doing, hence alienating people.

    So surely its important to be clear on opposing repressive whilst opposing war.

    Oh, might as well go and bang my head against a brick wall:-)

  33. voltairespriest said,

    Do you realise that your account of Somaya Zadeh’s speech contains an outrageous libel?

    She hasn’t said anything libellous.

    And yes, Modernity, I shall take a look and release your comment.

  34. Alec Macpherson said,

    Ann On, you’re taking the piss. It’s quite right that we are not required to reveal our true names in blogdom. It should be basic courtesy, though, to settle with a meaningful moniker and not one which demonstrate a clear refusal to present yourself for face-to-face – either corporeal or virtual – criticism. Are you Chris Nineham, by any chance?

    Next, you’re taking the piss excusing the Stop the War – no! not that one! – Coalition from criticism the Khomenists. It advertizes itself as anti-war and humanitarian, so of course it naffing should distance itself from a bunch of nasty, bigoted, homophobic thugs (and, preferable, kick them out of the Coalition). If your position is that we in Britain should not concern ourselves with the plight of foreigners, on any level, and only our own moral shame and inconvenience at foreign wars, say so. It won’t raise you in my estimation much, but at least I would peg you as a paleocon. You’re not Daniel Davies, by any chance?

    But it goes beyond that, doesn’t it? It goes beyond moral cravenness and enters the realm of actually being apologists and supporters of said regieme, viz. Somaya “I Am a Refugee” Zadeh (what is she a “refugee” from if Iraq… no… my finger always flies to the opposite end of the keyboard… Iran… is a giant gay bar and open air yeshiva?).

    HOPI and the Iranian Communists (what do they have against the Glorious Revolution of 1979?) are able to oppose both Western military force *and* the Khomenists, and your heroes threw them out. Why? Because they opposed the Khomenists. And why in Valen’s name should moral authority in organizing opposition go to the StW-NNtO-C? Are you capable of offering a position or moral statement which doesn’t present yourself as the exemplar for all time?

    At the very least, it has failed miserably in its purported purpose. THE WAR WENT AHEAD NUMBNUTS!!! Maybe, just maybe we’ll have a return to the spirit of 2003 if the “official anti-war movement” (TM) wasn’t so patently barking mad and teeming with nihilistic bampots and totalitarian gobshites.

  35. sackcloth and ashes said,

    We can now see why a coalition that lead a million people through the streets of London in February 2003 now have difficulties rustling up a few thousand marchers. It’s like the Vietnam anti-war movement in reverse – start big, end up on the margins.

    That’s what happens when an ‘anti-war’ movement gets taken over by apologists for tyrants. After all, wasn’t Murray the one who said ‘We stand by people’s Korea’ (i.e. the state North, not South, of the DMZ)?

  36. Alec Macpherson said,

    Meant to ask you, Sackcloth, what *is* the Big Fish doing with Than Shwe?

  37. modernityblog said,

    Dave Border made some very good points on SU blog.

  38. sackcloth and ashes said,

    Trying to get Burma / Myanmar to give Scotland observer status at the UN. True to form, Salmond isn’t asking for the same rights for the Karen and the Shan.

  39. sackcloth and ashes said,

    I should add here thast fish-heid is asking other countries to support Scotland’s bid for observer status, but that includes crawling around butchers.

    I always wondered why the SWP thought that national self-determination was a right for the Scots vis a vis Britain, but not the Iraqi Kurds. Maybe some animals are more equal than others.

  40. Andy Newman said,


    I just posted the following on the SU blog, in response to your comment:


    I apologise that much of the criticism above could be read as personally critical of you.

    To a certain extent that happened because you happened to be the first person to post about the conference, and your writings were quoted as evidence by people who actualy gave a much less ballances view of the conference than you yourself did.

    Iit is none of my business what you political affiliations are, but again the fact that socialists who have a very similar take to you on many things quoted you as if you were an impartial witness meant that I felt it necessary to point out that political judgement does have a bearing on how we preceive things.

    Having said that – some of the reason the criticism comes across as personal against you is my fault, that when I was criticing other people who were quoting you, I replied without making it clear that the criticism was to them and not you. This is particularly true over the fact that you personally in your report of the conference did give proportionate weight to the real business of conference, and you mentioned the Somaya Zadeh speech in passing. So I unreservedly apologise for not making that clearer.

    However, other people and not you, have completely hijacked the comments thread on the SU blog to rant against the leadership of the Stop the War Coalition, and have devoted 90% or more of their energy in the debate to denunciations of Iran, and forced the axis of debate to revolve around a left-of-SWP axis that is not representative of the real arguments in the movement.

    sixty milion people in the Uk think the SWP are too left wing. about 500 people in the UK think the SWP is too right wing. I am interested in the sixty million and not the 500.

  41. tim said,

    Check out Andys blog.
    Galloway & Co are Off.

  42. modernityblog said,

    Volty/Jim and Co,

    you might start a thread – No room for critical voices on the Socialist Unity blog??

    they are tearing into the AWLers, simply because they can’t answer the points that they raise

    funny that, attacking the person instead of dealing with the argument, how typical of that lowest common denominator school of politics

    the Left here is unlikely to rise and expand if it is so intolerant and incapable of dealing with alternative arguments, as typified by the Socialist Unity thread discussions


  43. Clive said,

    Yes, I’m quite shocked by andy newman, who up to now had struck me as a fairly reasonable sort of professional anti-sectarian. But the complaint that AWL members are presuming to contribute to a discussion – a complaint, that is, on the grounds that they have their own websites… Jesus. For one thing, the only reason I have formed an opinion of the bloke is that he pops up in so many comments boxes…! Like, including this one…

  44. voltaires_priest said,

    Thankyou Nooman for the apology to Tami – it was deserved and it’s honourable of you to give it.

    However she’s still right and you’re still wrong about the central issue at hand. It’s not a question (even if I did accept the Clintonesque tacking about majority and minority views in your last sentence, which I don’t) of what’s popular, it’s a question of what’s right.

  45. sachai said,

    Report from AWL member Sofie Buckland here:

  46. sachai said,

    “sixty milion people in the Uk think the SWP are too left wing. about 500 people in the UK think the SWP is too right wing. I am interested in the sixty million and not the 500.”

    Firstly, this is just ridiculous. An overwhelming majority think all revolutionary socialists are too left-wing: so why not abandon revolutionary socialism? And if this is not what you mean, what do you mean?

    Secondly, the interesting thing is that, on Iran, lots of not very left-wing people are a million miles to the left of the SWP.

  47. peter said,

    A couple of comments about the debate surounding the stop the war conference etc etc.
    apologies for delay but some of us have to work in the week.

    1. the actual heckling described is being MUCH overblown. Most of the heckiling was from people like HOPI and comm students disgruntled that STW didn’t affilaite them. The rest really wa spretty insignificant.

    2. the stalinist from oxford. the correct spelling is ZIAD MAGHRAM. He is a known and frequent agitator in the local streets. He has oftem promotes an anti-gay group and work to promote a twisted Israeli support group. I’ve seen him many time in Oxford handing out leaflet on behalf of some israeli socialist group. He is a chemist by profession and has been evicted from a number of meetings. he even got into a bust up with women in black one time. Ignore him.


  48. peter said,

    oh I forgot to add that Ziad maghram actaully is based based in Reading. That where he does most of his agitation. I first encountered him at Reading Uni last year. The student group there no longer will speak to him

  49. Kath said,

    I have to disagree with Bluebaldee

    >Stop the War Coalition seems to be an unholy marriage of homophobes, anti->semites and aplogists for an oppressive theocracy. It also seems that the >movement is highly undemocratic and run by egos.

    I’ve have not surveyed the anti war movement on it’s sexual preferences but I have to say the vast majority are very gay-tolerant and I speak not just about STW but the movement as a whole. This whole debate is getting very bizare!

  50. jacinta lincke said,

    in los angeles and know some of the oxford group from their visits here. I doubt that they would be such supporters of Zaid if he were homophobic as i know them to be anything but. As for his being a zionist that I found quite humerous as i know that to be an absolute lie!!!!Quite a load.I think whoever said that ridiculous b.s. shuld not hide behind their little blog name—and own your words!!!While I dont support the Iranian goverment(i believe all religous extremists are cut from the same putrid cloth be they jew,christan,muslim,hindu…)Ialso dont agree with the USA,UK…tooling around like oil hungry crusaders looking for an excuse to go into Iran.HANDS OFF IRAN,OUT OF IRAQ NOW!!! NO MORE IMPERIALISM!! CLEAN OUT YOUR OWN CESSPOOLS OF POVERTY,RACISM,HOMOPHOBIA….STAY OUT OF OTHER COUNTRIES!!!!!

  51. jacinta lincke said,

    in los angeles and know some of the oxford group from their visits here. I doubt that they would be such supporters of Zaid if he were homophobic as i know them to be anything but. As for his being a zionist that I found quite humerous as i know that to be an absolute lie!!!!Quite a load.I think whoever said that ridiculous b.s. should not hide behind their little blog name—and own your words!!!While I dont support the Iranian goverment(i believe all religous extremists are cut from the same putrid cloth be they jew,christan,muslim,hindu…)Ialso dont agree with the USA,UK…tooling around like oil hungry crusaders looking for an excuse to go into Iran.HANDS OFF IRAN,OUT OF IRAQ NOW!!! NO MORE IMPERIALISM!! CLEAN OUT YOUR OWN CESSPOOLS OF POVERTY,RACISM,HOMOPHOBIA….STAY OUT OF OTHER COUNTRIES!!!!!

  52. milicent frasley said,

    I agree with above.jeezus! We are so busy attacking each other that the right wing can just sit back and have a good laugh.

  53. Andy Newman said,

    An overwhelming majority think all revolutionary socialists are too left-wing: so why not abandon revolutionary socialism?

    good idea.

  54. Jim Denham said,

    But the overwhelming majority think the Taliban are bastards and that the Iranian regime are facists: so why not a\t least address ten, instead of appearing to be anapolgist for those vile, reactionary, fascistic forces, Andy? Your (and the STWC) stance can only repel decent. left-leaning people.

  55. modernityblog said,


    you’re doing a fine job battling at the SU blog!

    it seems a bit of an uphill struggle there, I don’t envy you 🙂

  56. Andy Newman said,

    well we all know what “decent” means nowadays.

  57. modernityblog said,


    Don’t worry, when you’re in a position of power in Respect Renewal you can always review the policy towards the “resistance” in Iraq in and Afghanistan ?

    I wonder what will that policy be?

    “Victory to suicide bombers”?
    “Victory to beheaders”

    not catchy enough?

    or will you call them by a euphemism instead?

    “Victory to the glorious anti-imperialists”?

  58. Vicky said,


    I’ve seen you many times at meetingd. I’ve admired your non sectarian stance and altways thought you were a reasonable guy with more inteligence than some of these out here. BUT you are wasting your time and only diminshing your credibiltiy by even engaging with these total wankers. (The only shiraz is worth messing with is in a bottle)

  59. FATIMA said,

    I’m sure they wouldnt be supporting the Taliban if they were woman. I’m so tired of all these psuedo-liberals supporting these sexist and homophobic regimes. As for Somaya ,apologist is the least of what she is!!! I see that all the psuedo-intellects are lining up in her defense, lets tell the truth the Iranian goverment in its current incarnation is grossly misogynist and homophobic—-I myself know of activist women who have been tortured and murdered while in custody. And it is of course well known what happens to unrepentant homosexuals–being a women’s or gay activist is not compatable with life in Iran now. How nice the regime allows sex changes,not all gays are transgendered you know so this would be the equivalent of forcing a hetrosexual to have a sex change.It is quite obvious to me that Somaya is a vitrolic servant of a very repressive regime and all the misguided idiots,know nothings who defend her and even give her a forum to spew from well that just makes me want to hurl.

  60. FATIMA said,

    What organization does Somaya represent publically?

  61. Jim Denham said,

    Couldn’t agree more, Fatima! Those “leftists” and Guardianistas who apologise for the clerical fascists of the Iranian regime and/or the Taliban should try living under such a regime or in an area dominated by such a movement: they wouldn’t last five minutes, yet they presume to tell the people of Iarn and /or Afghanistan that they must put up with it for the greater good of the “anti-imperialist struggle” It makes me want to vomit.
    I don’t know what organisation Smaya is in, but her attituse (and that of one or two other so-called “exiles”, and “oppositionists”) really makes one wonder whether she’s actually a stooge of the regime.

  62. FATIMA said,

    I once went to hear the women from RAWA(Revolutionary Afgan Women) I loved them,but protesting them were “supporters” of the Taliban,(none I might add wearing the burka ) they had a few disheveled british women with them-one of the brits actually told me she was a socialist(HA!HA!) I offered to buy her a ticket to Afghanistan and urged her upon her arrival to be dressed just as she was and to be sure to share her ‘socialist’ opinions with the Taliban I guaranteed her she would be most promptly stoned.She just yelled facist at me! I’m quite sure this same woman is now supporting the clerical facists of Iran and Iraq, with all sorts of embarassing rhyming catchy slogans while still professing to be a socialist. Well I stand for my sisters in Iraq who now dare not go outside without a hijab on, and keeping pardah for safetys sake unable to safely work or leave the home unescorted..Wake-up! I agree with the person from Los Angeles who feels all these extremists are cut from the same putrid cloth. No one of any intelligence would support these mad clerics or the transparent silly Smaya.a traitor to her sex and to the Iranian people for lying through her teeth and daring to minimize their terrible suffering.

  63. Green leadership, Stop the War Coalition and Ken Livingstone « Greens Against the Boycott of Israel said,

    […] is an organisation that suppresses dissent, whitewashes Iran – indeed Caroline Lucas whitewashes Baathist Iraq before 2003 as a “proud country” – […]

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