HOPIng for a miracle?

May 2, 2009 at 9:54 am (CPGB, left, sectarianism, SWP, voltairespriest)

The predictable failure of the recent attempt by Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI) to affiliate to the Stop The War Coalition (STWC) has produced a round of recriminations, especially from aggreived HOPI supporters. The CPGB’s Weekly Worker reports last Saturday’s STWC conference, and the paper’s cover has a picture of Coalition chair Andrew Murray with the captioned word “bullshit” emanating from his mouth over and over again. Stroppy has nominated the STWC (which she swiftly qualifies with “well its executive and those voting against HOPI”) as her “Friday Fuckwits”. Jim J, who was one of the Green Party delegates supporting HOPI’s affiliation, gives a balanced but critical report of the conference, which he feels was showing signs of political narrowing.

On the one level I couldn’t give a toss about this little affair. I’m not a member of HOPI, and my union (Unite) is not an affiliate as far as I am aware. However for me it does raise two interesting questions:

1) I simply cannot believe that the CPGB and individual leftist members of HOPI seriously thought there was a prospect of the SWP/CPB battalions changing political direction and allowing HOPI to join. Neither of those organisations has a track record of doing this, and there was no reason to think that last Saturday’s conference was any exception. Was the decision to try to affiliate then led by the sort of hopeless naiveté which causes people to serially join SWP front organisations thinking “this time it’ll be different”? Or was it a case of trying to make cheap political capital by howling “exclusion” once the inevitable “no” vote happened?

2) The STWC relies for its legitimacy upon being perceived as a national, broad organisation which represents the majority of anti-war opinion in the UK. Whilst it can present a long list of formal “affiliates” to support that perception, it doesn’t reflect reality. The real political forces behind the STWC are the SWP and CPB, with some involvement from the Muslim Association of Britain. Conferences like the one last Saturday are politically dominated by the bloc of SWP members/periphery and Stalinists: therefore to claim that they represent a broad coalition is a nonsense. The fact that a national political party (the Greens) could support HOPI affiliation at this event – and still lose – tells you all you need to know. This then brings me on to another point: why would HOPI, whose affiliation would most certainly have diversified the STWC’s affiliates list, want to lend a veneer of legitimacy to such an organisation? That is surely what their affiliation would have helped to do.

I don’t bear any particular animosity towards HOPI – its objectives don’t strike me as abhorrent and broadly speaking I think its existence is a good thing. However for me this episode has the smell of being about a bit more than “nasty SWP bullies and their mates keep poor HOPI from joining the Garrick”. It looks to me like a propaganda exercise, at least on the part of those who would have known the way this was going to play out.

Comrades, I think you knew that motion would fall from the moment when you decided to draft it. I wish you every success, but spare me the crocodile tears.


  1. Bob said,


    a) I am not a member

    b) my union is not an affiliated

    you don’t care about a debate surrounding the future direction of the politics of the STWC?

    Do you extend this approach to all organisations or just the STWC? Were Unite to disaffiliate from the Labour party would you cease to care about developments within it?

    Most strange.

  2. voltairespriest said,

    I struggle to muster much interest in the internal machinations of what used to be the “Labour” Party as it is, beyond pointing out to people that it’s a waste of their time and money to be members of it.

    And my point in any case was that I think it’s worthwhile discussing this particular HOPI saga in spite of the fact that neither I individually nor any organisation of which I’m a member are affiliated to it. Hence I, err, wrote a post on it.

  3. Duncan said,

    I dunno, I sometimes get the feeling that members of groups like the CPGB are political masochists who like nothing better than turning up at other left-wing groups meeting and then being so completely horrified by the total lack of democracy/abandoning of communist principles/unprincipled sectarianism (delete as appropriate) that they have to go and pen an article condemning these transgressions, only to repeat the whole exercise two weeks later.

  4. Hugh said,

    Unite is affiliated to StWC however. For all the annoying behaviours of CPGB, HOPI has the higer ground on Iran and is collecting an impressive list of high profile supporters. I remain an active member of StWC and was pleased that Ms Strop distinguished between the executive and their placemen and other members that have different views.

    Incidentally there was a wonderfully amusing conclusion to Jim Green Party’s report:

    *….and that both the Muslim community and the anti-war movement needed to protect each other. As one speaker said: “We cannot function with them and they cannot functiton without us.”*

    We, as in StWC, sadly actually do seem unable to function with the Muslim community, witness Craig Murray’s dismay at how few Muslims attended the conference. This after a sustained outreach campaign but misguidedly featuring ‘resistance’ figures and religious extremists. As to the second part “(Muslims) can’t function without us”. This risible suggestion will be news to most Muslims I’m sure and is sadly indicative of the delusional cul de sac to which some in StWC have arrived.

  5. Wobbly Willywellies said,

    Hugh, my wing of the StWC will be sacrificing a Jew on top of Sillbury Hill on May 25th. I invite you to attend and get back ‘on message’.

  6. Hugh said,

    And there was me thinking all the nutters were in Scotland. Seriously, StWC deserves a better ending…

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