This week I have lost my patience with those who lose no time in speaking ill of their own country, while always giving Putin and Russia the benefit of the doubt. I can at least have respect for pacifists who object to war out of principle, but what I deplore is anyone who says they are against war when what they mean is they only object to a war the UK is involved in. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Stop the War Coalition.
On Wednesday, they issued a statement deploring British policy towards Russia and the Ukraine. It made out that Britain and Nato were warmongers, while failing to condemn the Russian military build-up in any shape or form. This is true to form. While being against any British military action anywhere in the world, they can never bring themselves to condemn military aggression shown by countries like Russia or China. It’s always the West or NATO that is wrong, never a dictator in their warped heads.
Anyway, I read the statement out on my show, and pointed out their errors as I went along. I ended up by dubbing them ‘fifth columnists’. That’s what they are, and it’s about time someone called them out on it.
Obviously, I then started to get a load of abuse on social media. How dare I? I was a warmonger. You can imagine the rest. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of ‘fifth columnist’.
A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation.
Now I don't want to see a war in Ukraine any more than anyone else. I certainly do not think there should be western boots on the ground. But nor do I think NATO countries can just stand idly by and say nothing while Putin invades. Because if he thinks the West are disunited, goodness only knows what will follow in the Baltic states. But even saying that makes a warmonger in some people's eyes.
The signatories to the Stop the War Coalition Statement included the usual suspects – Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon, Zara Sultana, Claudia Webbe, Lindsey German, Tariq Ali, Andrew Murray… you get the picture.
Near the top of the list is the Assistant General Secretary of the RMT union, Eddie Dempsey. This is a man who posed for pictures with a far right Russian separatist warlord, Aleksander Mozgovny, in Ukraine and then wrote a glowing obituary of him when he was killed a week later. The left wing Workers Liberty website was none to impressed. They wrote…
The picture featured is Dempsey visiting Alexander Mozgovoy, an uber-nationalist, uber-misogynistic paramilitary leader in the pro-Russian militias during the war in eastern Ukraine. When Mozgovoy was killed a week after they met, Dempsey wrote a glowing obituary of his comrade, which I’ll quote below. If you want to get a grip on Mozgovoy, this is what he declared about women in the territory he controlled as a warlord, and of course by implication more generally:
“If I see even just one girl in a café or a pub tomorrow, she will be arrested. A woman must be the guardian of the hearth, a mother. But what kind of mothers are they after going to pubs? How can they bring up their children? What example are they giving?”
“If you want to remain an honest person and devoted to your husband, stay at home and do embroidery. All pubs are full of the female population, all night clubs. What kind of female population do we have here? Are they all prostitutes, or what?”
“So, I repeat. A special order will be issued to patrols: to arrest all women who are found in pubs. I said: all! And then let’s see whether you drink. Stay at home...
“You don’t like what I’ve said? It’s time that you remembered that you are Russians. It’s time to regain your spirituality.”
Dempsey’s obituary of Mozgovny first appeared in the Morning Star, but even they took it down once they realised who Mozgovny really was and what he represented. Here is an extract…
This 'precious goal' is the Russian annexation of the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Towards this precious goal his comrades will continue their late commander’s struggle.
Workers Liberty conclude
Am I saying Dempsey doesn’t think women in Britain should go to pubs? Of course not. But he is a fairly extreme case of "socialist" (in fact Stalinist) support for right-wing nationalist movements as long as they are in conflict with Western imperialism, even when the people who dominate them are as reactionary as Mozgovoy… Will any of Dempsey’s apologists try to find a way to explain this away?
In another example of his extemism, he came out with this corker in 2019...
The supporters of Tommy Robinson are right to hate the liberal left, and if it comes to a scrap in this country and the working-class aren't on our side the left is in deep, deep trouble.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying all signatories to the Stop the War Coalition statement are Stalinist, or would necessarily agree with Dempsey, but we all remember how STWC and their ilk couldn’t even bring themselves to find Russia culpable for the Salisbury chemical weapons attack, even when they were presented with the evidence.
As I say, fifth columnists.
There are plenty of decent people on the centre left, and even on the hard left who do not subscribe to the views of the Stop the War Coalition, and I understand why some of them are reluctant to speak out. They’d be denounced as Tory patsies, warmongers and worse.
Since I used the term ‘fifth columnists’ I have had several people on what most would describe as the Hard Left contact me to say well done for calling them out. It just goes to show that sometimes there is more that unites us than divides us.