An open letter to Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War coalition: In your Guardian interview with John Harris, you joined David Cameron and the pro-war Blairites in completely mischaracterising my “Reaping the Whirlwind” blogpost. You said you objected to it because it did not “completely condemn the Paris massacres.” This is absolutely untrue — as you would know if you had actually read the article which your own organisation posted on its website (without asking me) then removed. I ask you now to read this passage from the blogpost: “I write in despair. Despair of course at the depravity displayed by the murderers of the innocents in Paris tonight.” Is that not “complete” enough for you?
Yet your statement to Harris is, in many ways, even more egregious than the twistings of the article made by the Tories and Blairites to attack your organisation. You say, falsely, that I did not “completely condemn” the attacks. So what does that mean? That I partially approved them? Is there a certain wording — a ritual incantation, a party line — that must be followed in order to qualify for “full” condemnation? Perhaps you could post it on your website, so we can all sing from the same hymn sheet.
Your statement is not only false and near-libellous, it is ludicrous on its face. The entire article is about the despair and anguish so many of us were feeling about evil of the Paris attacks — and our further despair that the policies of our own nations, particularly the US and UK, have been instrumental in creating a world where such self-evident evil can flourish. Jeremy Corbyn — and many other people associated with Stop the War — have made these very same points, both before and after the Paris attacks. In what way is it “extremely insensitive,” as you put it, to speak of this element of our despair over the Paris atrocity, along with the specific, complete condemnation of it as the “depravity [of] the murderers of the innocents in Paris”?
Let me point out, for the nth time, that it was your organisation that put “Paris” in the headline of the article, therefore skewing perceptions of its actual content and giving an opening to your enemies among the warmongers and the seething factionalists in the Labour Party. Yet instead of simply saying, “We did not want this post by someone outside the organization to represent the official position of Stop the War” — which would have been fair enough — you instead decided to join Cameron and the Blairites in twisting the post’s clear meaning, and painting me as someone who didn’t “fully condemn” the attacks; again, leaving behind the imputation that there was some element of this horrific crime that I did not condemn, or perhaps even approved.
It was no great shock to see how the Tory-Blairite pro-war coalition seized on my article to bash your organisation; but it is very surprising — and very disheartening — to see you do the same thing. I “completely condemn” the Paris attacks, Mr Murray. I completely condemned them in the article which your organisation posted without my permission. I don’t know why you wish to compound the problems that the article has caused you by continuing to misrepresent it just as Cameron and others have done.
Oh, by the way: do feel free to post this piece on your website.