Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Twas brylyg, and the slithy Gove

(sorry, I know someone else has Watched this but I had it written and there are a couple of bits I like too much to abandon)

Nick is happy because Michael Gove has his back, in taking on those damnable Liberal Democratses. Any discussion of the LibDems is useful among the Decents, as it reminds anyone was feeling like going soft on them that "What's Left?" is not an honest book and the Decent attitude to the anti-war left is not based in anything other than pique and embarrassment at having been so wrong. Sir Menzies Campbell has never endorsed George Galloway, opposed the Iraq War for the correct reason that he thought it would be a disaster and has continued to place the welfare of the Iraqis at the forefront of his continued criticism of the government's mishandling of the whole affair. And what recognition does he get from this? Nope, that would be none. The LibDems made the terrible mistake of being right when Nick Cohen was wrong, and for that they must suffer.

And so Gove writes that "In the recent debate on Iraq Ming spoke with a forceful eloquence which will have reminded fans of his golden era, but the content of what he said soon fell apart under scrutiny. His demand that British troops withdraw to meet an arbitrary timetable was widely recognised as militarily naive. But, worse than that, for the party of Gladstone, Ming’s insistence on rapid withdrawal would leave Iraq’s liberals and democrats to the wolves. How ethical is a foreign policy which, when it sees trade unionists and feminists fighting clerical fascists, decides that the best thing to do is to give the clerical fascists a freer hand? "

Presumably that is how Michael Gove would have liked this exchange in the House of Commons to have gone, but actually, Hansard records that he got his head handed to him, as a couple of sketchwriters noted at the time IIRC. Note also that Gove managed to ask the exact same question that Jeremy Paxman asked Ming a year ago, when it was more difficult to answer, but still Nick claims that "opponents of the war get an easy time on the BBC".

Note here that Nick and Mike are using it as an axiom, a basic principle that does not need to be argued for, that anyone who wants a date set for troops to come home is ipso facto a hater of the poor ickle Iraqis. This is in the face of the Iraq Study Group recommendations and the majority of Iraqi public opinion in the most recent polls. It's also not what the majority of Iraqi trade unions think either. Nick seems to believe that he can pick and choose his "solidarity" with "Iraqi democrats", constantly talking them up while ignoring their actual political program with respect to the foreign soldiers currently on their soil.

Meanwhile, Gove takes the opportunity to turn the most unbelievably banal observation about the somewhat dysfunctional relationship between rightwing Israeli politics and the US Congress, into a "Malign Zionist Conspiracy", in a move which even ENGAGEonline might think a bit unsubtle. Also note that the official UN position on the Golan Heights becomes a piece of "Ba'athist apologism" because in Decentland it's OK to steal land and water from people forty years ago if they have a nasty government now. Since I am ever so keen on avoiding "classic anti-Semitic Tropes", by the way, I will have to describe Michael Gove's castigation of Syria for "destabilising Lebanon's nascent democracy" in the context of an article defending Israel's role in the region as "brass neck" rather than chutzpah.

So here we have it. If you take the same view as James Baker on troop withdrawals from Iraq, the official UN (and UK) government policy line on the Golan Heights, believe the same things as Tony Blair about the importance of a Palestinian settlement for the wider Middle East and agree with Oona King about the influence of AIPAC, you have "gone berserk" and "abandoned all the principles of the left". Nick is surely right to say that the views he castigates are "a large part of the mainstream", but not for the reasons he thinks and not in a way that reflects well on him.

PS: fucking check this out, from the Inside Iraq blog, via Chardonnay Chap below. Does Nick think he can brush this off as "another leftist who just wants to bash Bush and Blair and doesn't care about Iraqis"?


Blogger ejh said...

I'm rather chuffed that Brother Gove's become a supporter of trades unionists all of a sudden.

2/20/2007 04:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gove's Celsius 7/7 is really shocking trash. Are we getting a long-awaited review of it at some point?

2/20/2007 08:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you take the same view as James Baker on troop withdrawals from Iraq

But James Baker (and Jimmy Carter) are the "kept creatures of the Arab world" and are "intent on smoothing the path to Israel’s destruction." Don't you read "Melanie Phillips"?


2/21/2007 03:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't face opening that book again. I might review the index.

2/21/2007 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I live Nick's 'what is happening in cuba' description of Guantanamo.

Is there to be a watch of Nick's rant about how difficult it is for childless couples on £100k a year to live in London, and how Labour need to woo them in order to win the election? Surely it was a Seal of Dacre?

2/21/2007 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In fairness to Gove, I think he was at one point active in the unions, having been on strike as a journalist at the Aberdeen Press & Journal

2/21/2007 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I think anon above gets a point for that. The Staggers confirms that story: "...the arch-Tory egghead Michael Gove, who rarely mentions these days his time as a striker on the picket line at the Aberdeen Press and Journal." (I suspect on the picket line may be journalistic licence: all strikers are on the pickets lines - as opposed to staying in bed, watching Richard and Judy, going fishing, etc. But then Gove is a politician, and there are photographers present at pickets, so I wouldn't rule his attendance at same out. He was, presumably a columnist, so a trek to the office to picket was more than he would do on a normal working day.)

I suspected, clearly wrongly, that Gove shared Mrs Thatcher's enthusiasm for unions: good lads putting the wind up some faraway despot you don't like, bolshy troublemakers who should be squashed here.

2/21/2007 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

When I was a union rep it was noticeably easier to get a "yes" vote for a strike on a Friday. Or any shopping day prior to Xmas.

I didn't know Gove was in Aberdeen. That's a long way from Eton. Was he under the impression it was a colonial posting?

bolshy troublemakers who should be squashed here

Didn't Rupert Smith in the Guardian refer to Arthur Scargill by saying something like "ghastly little man who should be trodden on"?

2/21/2007 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know Gove was in Aberdeen. That's a long way from Eton. Was he under the impression it was a colonial posting?

To be fair to Michael Gove, he is one of the handful of Tory MPs not to have been educated at Eton.

2/21/2007 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Was he not? Mea maxima culpa, as we Catholics like to say.

2/21/2007 06:31:00 PM  

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