Britain: No to witch-hunts in the Labour Party

The outspoken left-wing Labour MP George Galloway is facing a witch-hunt because of his anti-war stance. This attack, orchestrated by the Tory Telegraph and Sun, has been seized upon by Blair and his entourage.

The outspoken left-wing Labour MP George Galloway is facing a witch-hunt because of his anti-war stance. This attack, orchestrated by the Tory Telegraph and Sun, has been seized upon by Blair and his entourage. The Tory papers say they have discovered papers ("stumbled on by chance") alleging that Galloway was in the pay of Saddam Hussein. Murdoch's Sun was the very newspaper which accused Galloway of treachery for his anti-war stance. Perhaps these papers should be put in charge of finding the elusive weapons of mass destruction. After all they couldn't fail, if they could not find them they could simply make them up. Like all the dubious evidence emerging from the American and British occupation of Iraq, this is more convenient ‘proof' for the pro-war forces in the Labour Party who are intent on purging the party of all opposition.

Galloway, Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin, has never hidden his support for the Iraqi people, and had campaigned consistently against the sanctions that condemned 500,000 children to death. He established an anti-sanctions campaign named after the Iraqi leukaemia sufferer, Mariam Hamza, and received money from the Middle East for this project. Galloway denies benefiting personally in any way from this charity.

But the Blairite machine is now in full swing, determined to bring charges against Galloway at the NEC of the party. Labour chairman Ian McCartney said the allegations were "extremely serious". They hope to use the campaign in the Tory press - as they used the fictitious dossier of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq concocted from an American student's thesis - to lay the grounds for expelling George Galloway.

Ben Bradshaw, then junior Foreign Office minister, last year described Galloway as "not just an apologist but a mouthpiece for the Iraqi regime." When, in fact, it was Bradshaw who was acting as the mouthpiece for US imperialism.

"The allegations add more meat to an investigation into the MP's conduct by Labour officials already under way, prompted by complaints from party members", states the Financial Times. They are already busy hunting for witches, armed with ‘complaints' from so-called party members, pliant tools of the right-wing witch-hunt.

Of course, these apparatchiks are more than ready to do the leader's bidding. However, when it comes to pursuing those right-wing MPs and ministers who have taken money from the CIA and its fronts to promote their right-wing publications and causes, they are stony silent. One such group is the Trade Union Committee for European and Transatlantic Understanding (TUCETU), which is the successor to the Labour Committee for Transatlantic Understanding. This was set up in 1976 by the late Joe Godson, Labour Attaché at the US embassy in London in the 1950s, and a close friend of Hugh Gaitskell. TUCETU chair Alan Lee Williams was a Labour defence minister in the Callaghan government, before defecting to the SDP. In the mid-1980s Williams and George Robinson were members of the European policy group of the Washington Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Organised by two officials of the NATO-sponsored Atlantic Council, TUCETU incorporates ‘Peace Through NATO', the group central to Michael Heseltine's MoD campaign against CND in the early 1980s, and received over £100,000 a year from the Foreign Office.

The Atlantic Council/TUCETU network provided the recruits for New Labour's Ministry of Defence team. Defence Secretary George Robertson, before becoming general secretary of NATO, was a member of the Council of the Atlantic Committee from 1979-90; Lord Gilbert, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, is listed as TUCETU vice-chair; Dr John Reid, former Minister of State for the Armed Forces and chairman of the Labour Party, spoke at a TUCETU conference; and MoD press office biographical notes on junior Defence Minister John Speller state that he "has been a long standing member of the Trade Union Committee for European and Transatlantic Understanding". Speller had his own office and secretary in AEEU headquarters, and was deeply involved in Sir Ken Jackson's failed attempt to hang on to the leadership of the union. How was this operation funded? Peter Mandelson has also written a pamphlet for TUCETU based on a speech he gave to its 1996 conference.

In other words, the people round Tony Blair, and central to the New Labour ‘project', are all linked to the United States, or the British foreign policy Establishment, whose chief aim, since the end of the Second World War, has been to preserve the Anglo-American ‘special relationship' and to foster western (i.e. capitalist) interests. Blair's ‘special relationship' extended from Clinton to George W. Bush, so much so that he is known as the Member of Parliament for Texas North.

The press remain silent on the insidious links of the right wing and the Blairites. Against Galloway however they have let loose a Niagara of attacks, in relation to his finances, his personal life, his holiday home in Portugal etc. How many MPs receive corporate sponsorship, financial backing from lobbyists etc? Socialist Appeal's position is clear, all Labour MPs should receive a wage no higher than that of a skilled worker, their expenses should be audited by the labour movement, and they should be accountable to the movement. How many of the careerists in the Parliamentary Labour Party would then be so keen on a career in politics? How many Labour MPs living the same lifestyle as ordinary working people would support Blair's privatisation plans and the attacks on public services?

In reality the witch-hunt against Galloway has nothing to do with the convenient allegations of the Tory press, and everything to do with the Blairites' fear of swelling opposition inside the Labour movement to the Labour government's policies at home and abroad.

The Blairites are desperate to prevent the tide of opposition mounting against them throughout the labour movement. The attack on George Galloway is no more than this. The rank and file of the party and the affiliated trade unions must raise a storm of protest against this frame-up.

At the same time, any hint of breaking with Labour, or that Galloway should stand independently, must be quashed immediately. This witch-hunt must be fought inside the movement as part of a struggle to reclaim the Labour Party from the Blairite hijackers. To walk away would be to hand victory to Blair on a platter. From their point of view such an outcome would be even more favourable than their current plan to expel Galloway.

This attack is a sign of the weakness of Blair and co. They have virtually no base of support inside the movement, not even at the tops of the unions now. Now is not the time to run from a fight. If this witch-hunt is allowed to proceed it will not be the last. Such manoeuvres and disciplinary attacks are the only method Blair and co. have to retain their grip on the Labour Party.

The campaign to defeat this witch-hunt must continue and go on to defeat the Blairites and place genuine worker representatives in their place. The unions must take this opportunity to take back the Labour Party once and for all!

No Witch hunts!
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Pass resolutions of protest through your Labour Party, trade union branch or organisation.
Fax a protest to Tony Blair on 0207 925 0918
Email your support to George Galloway on

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