OPPOSITION TO the war in Iraq goes deep into the union movement. The tone was set this week at the CWU union conference for postal and telecoms workers in Bournemouth. In his opening address general secretary Billy Hayes said, 'We can't buy into Bush's plans for the world.
'I was proud to address the biggest demonstration in British history on 15 February and see so many of our members calling for peace.'
A debate on Iraq and Palestine saw deep hostility to the recent war. Emma Forrest from Manchester said, 'The invasion of Iraq showed the emptiness of Labour's 'ethical foreign policy'. 'It saw indiscriminate bombing and, now, occupation. It was a war about US interests and oil.'
Bob Cullen from Oxfordshire said, 'Now it's obvious there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. One of the biggest reasons for terrorism is the injustice to the Palestinians. Israel is an expansionist, aggressive government.'
The main conference guest speaker was Chris Smith MP. He said, 'Several thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed and cluster bombs litter the landscape. No prime minister, this was not the right thing to do.' Delegates voted unanimously to back anti-war MP George Galloway.
The motion said, 'This conference condemns the suspension of George Galloway MP from the Labour Party. The policies advocated by Galloway which have prompted his suspension - opposition to the war on Iraq - are entirely in accord with those of the CWU. We therefore call for the immediate lifting of his suspension from the party.'
Central London delegate Paul Moore said, 'This is about basic democratic rights and about a man who spoke out over an issue that concerned millions. It is said that he discredited the Labour Party. It is government ministers who misled the British people over Iraq who have discredited the party.'
John Brown, the regional secretary for Scotland, said that the three CWU branches affiliated to Galloway's Glasgow Kelvin constituency all supported him: 'Why has he been suspended now? Unless the suspension is lifted he will not be able to stand for the new constituency which will result from a reorganisation of his present constituency. If we don't have debate, we don't have the right to say we're a democratic party. George has always been helpful to us and this is sending a message that we will repay that support.'
Every CWU branch backed the motion. It is a sign of how the anger over the war and New Labour's undemocratic regime is growing.
For more on the conference click here