Andrew Murray (campaigner and journalist)
Andrew Murray (born 1958) is a British campaigner and journalist who was Chair of the Stop the War Coalition from its formation in 2001 until September 2011, and again from September 2015.
Murray has been a senior official for several trade unions over a couple of decades.
A former Morning Star journalist, a publication to which he still contributes, Murray was appointed as a parliamentary lobby correspondent at the age of 19. From 1986 to 1987, he worked for the Soviet Novosti news agency. Later he became an official for the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF).
At the Transport and General Workers Union, an organisation for which he worked from 1987 to 1998 and again from 2003, he was heavily involved in the conduct of the British Airways cabin crew strike of 1997, and in the successful general secretary election campaigns of Bill Morris (1991 and 1995) and Tony Woodley (2003) and, after the formation of Unite as a merger of the T&G and Amicus, of Len McCluskey in 2010.
He joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1976 and was later associated with its Straight Left faction. Following the dissolution of the CPGB in 1991 he was a leader of the Communist Liaison group, which itself dissolved in 1995 with its members joining the Communist Party of Britain, of which he remains a member. He served on the Party's leadership from 2000 to 2004, and was an advocate of the Communist Party supporting the Respect Coalition in the European and municipal elections that year. He served once more on the party's executive from 2008 until 2011. He told John Harris in 2015: "Communism still represents, in my view, a society worth working towards – albeit not by the methods of the 20th century, which failed."
Murray is presently Chief of Staff for Unite responsible for most of the union's central departments and for its ten regions, and was elected to the TUC General Council in April 2011. Ahead of the public sector pension strike, he was named by Education Secretary Michael Gove in November 2011 as being, along with Len McCluskey and Mark Serwotka, one of three union "militants" who were "itching for a fight". Murray defended Arthur Scargill in a review of Marching to the Fault Line by Francis Beckett and David Hencke, which criticises the NUM leader's role in the miners' strike, advising Morning Star readers not to buy the book as doing so would only "feed the jackals".
As chair of Stop the War, he presided at the concluding rally against the Iraq war in 2003, a rally which is claimed as the largest political demonstration in British history. Murray stood down as Stop the War Chair in September 2011 and was succeeded by Jeremy Corbyn MP. He was elected by the Coalition's Steering Committee to the new post of Deputy President, but returned to the position of Chair in September 2015, following Corbyn's election as Leader of the Labour Party.
Murray is considered an apologist for Joseph Stalin by his critics, such as Nick Cohen. Described as an "admirer" in The Independent on Sunday in 2003, in 1999 he wrote in his Morning Star column:
|“||Next Tuesday is the 120th anniversary of the birth of Josef Stalin. His career is the subject of a vast and ever expanding literature. Read it all and, at the end, you are still left paying your money and taking your choice. A socialist system embracing a third of the world and the defeat of Nazi Germany on the one hand. On the other, all accompanied by harsh measures imposed by a one-party regime. Nevertheless, if you believe that the worst crimes visited on humanity this century, from colonialism to Hiroshima and from concentration camps to mass poverty and unemployment have been caused by imperialism, then [Stalin’s birthday] might at least be a moment to ponder why the authors of those crimes and their hack propagandists abominate the name of Stalin beyond all others. It was, after all, Stalin's best-known critic, Nikita Khrushchev, who remarked in 1956 that 'against imperialists, we are all Stalinists'".||”|
In 2008, Murray identified "one of the successes" of the "nationalities policy of the Soviet Union" as being the promotion of "the cultural, linguistic and educational development of each ethnic group, no matter how small or how historically marginalised." This comment was criticised by author Edward Lucas in The Guardian who accused Murray of ignoring "the Chechens, Crimean Tatars and other victims of Stalin's murderous deportation policies." In a short history of the CPGB, published in 1995, Murray wrote: "That things happened in the USSR which were inexcusable and which ultimately prejudiced Socialism’s whole prospect is today undeniable. Whether Communists in the capitalist world could or should have done more than they did is much more contentious". Oliver Kamm, in The Times commented in 2016: "In short, Mr Murray believes that British communists in the 1930s were justified in backing the Great Terror, the Moscow Trials and the Ukraine famine. Mr Murray predictably supports the most nightmarish totalitarian state in the modern world".
Murray is a defender of North Korea: "Our Party has already made its basic position of solidarity with Peoples Korea clear". In response to a Daily Telegraph letter from Conservative MP and Defence Spokesman Julian Lewis, he claimed that he had made no secret of his political beliefs. "People throw the word ‘Stalinist’ around and demean it by trivialising it. But in the case of Murray it is just", wrote Cohen in 2015.
Murray is the author of several books and numerous pamphlets, including The Communist Party of Great Britain: A Historical Analysis to 1941 (1995), Flashpoint World War III (1997), Off the Rails (2001), A New Labour Nightmare: Return of the Awkward Squad (2003), Stop the War: The Story of Britain's Biggest Mass Movement (with Lindsey German, 2005), The T&G Story (2008) and The Imperial Controversy (2009), the later work was described Nathaniel Mehr in Tribune magazine as "an important and timely book". He has also contributed to The Guardian and has written a blog on the newspaper's web page.
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Andrew Murray has been married twice – to Susan Michie (1981–1997) and to Anna Kruthoffer from 2003 to date. He has three children with Dr. Michie – Jessica Katharine Murray, Jack Douglas Murray and Laura Catriona Murray and a stepdaughter, Sally Charlton.
- Cohen, Nick (7 April 2003). "Strange bedfellows". New Statesman. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
- Tom Williams "Former ASLEF media boss takes on T&G comms role", PR Week UK, 7 November 2003, as reproduced on the Printweek website
- Harris, John (11 December 2015). "Stop the War chair Andrew Murray: 'Everyone sees friends at Christmas. But Jeremy, apparently, has a problem'". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
- Andrew Murray "Miners strike hatchet job", Morning Star, 13 March 2009
- Andy McSmith and Severin Carrell "Stalin apologists drink to the memory of Uncle Joe", The Independent on Sunday, 2 March 2003
- Andrew Murray "Eye's Left", Morning Star, 17 December 1999, as reprinted in Michael Mosbacher "British Anti-Americanism", Social Affairs Unit, 2004, p.6
- Andrew Murray "Cheney, Bush and the Georgia crisis", Morning Star, 12 August 2008
- Edward Lucas "To Russia, with love", The Guardian, 3 September 2008
- Kamm, Oliver (19 September 2016). "Labour may have a communist as its general secretary". The Times. Retrieved 19 September 2016.(subscription required)
- Andrew Murray "Communist Party of Britain: Report To the March 2003 Executive Committee Meeting" at the Wayback Machine (archived December 10, 2003), The document was removed from the website of the Communist Party of Britain.
- Julian Lewis "Anti-war protests led by Communist", letter in the Daily Telegraph, 25 March 2003, and as reproduced on Lewis's website
- Andrew Murray "Stop the War spans the spectrum", letter in the Daily Telegraph, 26 March 2003
- Cohen, Nick (15 May 2015). "Labour must understand that Unite is its enemy". The Spectator. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
- Nathaniel Mehr "Murray mints our imperial history", Tribune, 26 May 2010