The Stop the War Coalition crew are in for a treat when they hold their Christmas bash at the Ev Restaurant in London. The Turkish eaterie has received raved reviews online. "Great Borek, Kofta and Baklava," one pleased patron wrote on TripAdvisor. Another happy customer described the setting as "lovely". But the plaudit-winning food may be spoiled by the controversy the £50-a-head fundraiser has cooked up.
Tristram Hunt has urged Jeremy Corbyn, a former chair of Stop the War, not to speak at the event and Shadow Culture Secretary Michael Dugher has accused its activists of "intimating" Labour MPs. But the Labour leader has not budged, even after it emerged that Green MP Caroline Lucas had quit as a Stop the War patron.
Stop the War Coalition: What you need to know
- Founded in 2001 to campaign against the "War on terror"
- Gained popularity by opposing the 2003 Iraq War
- Jeremy Corbyn chaired the group between 2011 and 2015
- Tony Benn was one of the organisation's most well-known supporters
Human rights activist and IBTimes UK columnist Peter Tatchell also called on the left-winger to no-show. Stop the War, an otherwise overlooked left-wing group, has faced more and more press scrutiny.
The group has since removed an article entitled "Paris reaps whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in Middle East" and a piece comparing Islamic State (Isis) to the anti-fascist International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War has disappeared.
Stop the War claimed to be a victim of a "witch hunt" and former International Marxist Group member Tariq Ali launched an attack against some leading Greens (Tatchell is a member of the party) for "jumping on the anti-Stop the War bandwagon". But a 2013 article describing Islamist militant group Hezbollah as a "genuine resistance movement" can still be found on the group's website.
The organisation also stands accused of initially being a "Trotskyist front" by former Left Foot Forward editor and IBTimes UK columnist James Bloodworth. Its patrons include the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union Mark Serwotka, former Respect MP George Galloway and Stalin Society founder Kamal Majid.
Elsewhere, some of the Stop the War's officers and steering committee group are members or formers members of the Communist Party of Great Britain, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Others are alleged to have had links with small Trotskyist sect Socialist Action. Incidentally, top Corbyn aide Simon Fletcher is said to have been close to the far-left entryist group. Lindsey German, herself an ex-member of the SWP and current convenor for Stop the War, declined to take part in an IBTimes UK video debate with Bloodworth on Labour, Stop the War and UK air strikes on Syria.