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Andrew Murray (campaigner and journalist)

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Name  Andrew Murray

Role  Campaigner and journalist
Andrew Murray (campaigner and journalist) httpsiguimcoukimgstaticsysimagesGuardia

Andrew Philip Drummond-Murray, commonly known as Andrew Murray, (born 3 July 1958) is a British campaigner and journalist who was chair of the Stop the War Coalition from its formation in 2001 until June 2011, and again from September 2015 to 2016.

Contents

Murray has been a senior official for several trade unions over a couple of decades. After forty years in the Communist Party of Great Britain, and then the Communist Party of Britain, he joined the Labour Party towards the end of 2016. Murray was seconded from Unite to Labour headquarters for the 2017 general election.

Early life and career

Murray was born in 1958 to Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick, a stockbroker and banker who was Slains Pursuivant from 1981 to 2009, and Hon. Barbara Mary Hope, daughter of former Conservative MP Arthur Hope, 2nd Baron Rankeillour who was governor of the Madras Presidency of British India from 1940 to 1946. He was educated at Worth School, a Benedictine independent boarding school in Sussex.

Murray joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1976 and became associated with its Straight Left faction. 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.

Trade union roles, CPB and Stop the War

At the Transport and General Workers Union, an organisation for which Murray 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 has also worked as an official for the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF).

Murray was appointed as chief of staff for Unite in 2011 following Len McCluskey's election as general secretary late the previous year. Responsible for most of the union's central departments and for its ten regions, he 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 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, Murray presided at the concluding rally against the Iraq War in 2003, a rally which is claimed as the largest political demonstration in British history. He announced his intention to stand down as Stop the War chair in June 2011 and was succeeded by the Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn in September 2011. Murray 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.

Following the dissolution of the CPGB in 1991 he was a leader of the Communist Liaison group, which itself dissolved in 1995 with Murray and its other members joining the Communist Party of Britain. Murray served on the Communist Party of Britain Party's executive committee from 2000 to 2004, and was an advocate of the 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".

Labour party roles

By November 2016, Murray had joined the Labour Party and, in May 2017, it emerged that he had been seconded from Unite to Labour headquarters during the 2017 general election. Asked by journalists about the appointment, Corbyn said Murray "is a person of enormous abilities and professionalism" who possesses "special skills".

Murray was quoted in The Guardian on the day after the election about the unexpected exit poll announced just after the polling stations had closed. "There was a tremendous moment of elation when the exit poll was announced because it became apparent that the campaign had achieved the most stunning turnaround in public opinion in seven weeks" which saw Labour rise "from mid 20s in the polls at the start of the campaign to denying the Tories a majority. It was a moment of shared achievement".

Communism

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, saying in 2003 to a meeting of the CPB executive committee: "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 has been defended by the Daily Mirror's Associate Editor Kevin Maguire as "smart, shrewd, pragmatic and witty". However, senior members of the Labour Party have considered him to be the "hard-left's Steve Bannon".

Writings

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.

Private life

Andrew Murray has been married twice – to Susan Michie (1981–1997) and to Anna Kruthoffer from 2003 to date. He has three children with Michie – Jessica Katharine Murray, Jack Douglas Murray and Laura Catriona Murray and a stepdaughter, Sally Charlton.

References

Andrew Murray (trade unionist) Wikipedia


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