Sunday, January 20, 2008

So common in our time

A 'tea hits the monitor' moment from Our Nick:

The WRP began the flipping from far left to far right, which is so common in our time.

And in the following sentence:

It took money from Saddam Hussein as he was preparing to gas 'impure' ethnic minorities.

But Donald Rumsfeld gave Saddam money at the same time. Am I allowed to say 'Bush = Hitler' now? I don't mean to defend the WRP, but surely Bush's former Secretary of Defense has less excuse for not knowing what Saddam was "preparing" to do than a bunch radicalised lovies?

In return for supporting the Arab dictatorships, it embraced the fascist conspiracy theory.

It did X; it also did Y (which may be a subset of X). Where does the 'in return' come in?

The cult's main purpose, however, was to worship the personality of its great leader, Gerry Healy, a squat, bombastic Irishman and a rapist as near as damn it.

I don't doubt that Mr Healy was as thoroughly unpleasant as Nick says, however, he was less equivocal in the Standard last year (via Oliver Kamm):

Its primary purpose, however, was to worship the sect's leader: Gerry Healy, a squat little Hitler -- and a rapist to boot.

Is Nick being censored by the Observer? And if so, why aren't they correcting meaningless sentences like the one above?

Now, Nick's real purpose is to attack Ken Livingstone, which would be easy enough without revisiting the tiresome "Down with the Judean People's Front" politics of a quarter-century ago. After all, this is Google News on Cuddly Ken. The early responses on Comment is Free are shameful. The problem with Nick's article is not that it attacks Livingstone, who is surely unelectable now, but that it doesn't add anything to the charge sheet. The most fun will be with Ken's drinking habits which are beyond bizarre. Even more so than this:

In return, Livingstone sends his bureaucrats to Latin America to help Chávez increase his power in Caracas and propagandises for the Chavista cause in London.

Oh no! Not the bureaucrats! They're attacking with management bullshit bingo! We're all doomed now! Might as well surrender, lads.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

a piece which is remarkably similar to one posted on harry's place three days ago. The Observer are really not getting much effort from Nick nowadays...

1/20/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Donald Rumsfeld gave Saddam money at the same time.

You mean... the WRP took money from Donald Rumsfeld? The horror!

What a truly dreadful article. The "WRP was anti-semitic" line is nonsense (I think one or two of us who were around at the time might have noticed) - and the idea that Livingstone founded Socialist Action is just silly (funded maybe). And tactically it's disgraceful - does Nick hate Livingstone so much he'd rather see Boris Johnston elected?

1/20/2008 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

phil: the piece doesn't say that KL "founded" SA, it says that he "found" it. I think Ross actually found Livingstone rather than the other way round, in fact. Not that it matters.

1/20/2008 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's hard to see why political advisors are a bad thing if Livingstone employs them but not if they're part of the entourage by and through which Tony Blair bypassed Parliament, the Cabinet and the Civil Service.

I wouldn't have thought Livingstone is unlectable, but I would have thought that - much like Labour in Westminster - he's shed a lot of old friends without making enough new ones to make up for it once the Opposition recovers. Even so, the idea that Boris Johnson is somehow fit for office continues to make the mind boggle. It's not that he's a Tory, which is what you'd think from listening to "anyone but Ken" people: it's not even that he's a Tory who all through his life has been given evreything he wants as if it were a birthright and that this seems to include the mayoralty of London on the basis of having floppy hair and a bicyle. It's that he is a pretty nasty casual racist: to me this is still more important than paid advisors and being a friend of people who are not friends of Israel.

1/20/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"does Nick hate Livingstone so much he'd rather see Boris Johnston elected?"

This is the view of the less Labourist wing of the Decent Left, yes.

1/20/2008 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be worth someone doing a fairly detailed history of the exact factional fighting between all the Trotskyist and tankie sects in the 70's and early 80's, and tracing the movements within them of our various protagonists at that time. I'm sure the essentially vitriolic and deeply factional characters of such as Cohen, Aaronovitch, Hitchens on the one side and such as Galloway on the other were all formed then, as well as more peripheral figures such as John Reid, Ken Livingstone, Mad Mel, Janet Daly, Eric Forth (now deceased), John Lloyd, that Mary Irish woman from the Torygraph who used to be in the luvvies trot group and tugged unwilling members in by their tassles at Bloomsbury book launches.

Their essential positioning against each other has not changed. Being power players within politics and journalism, the generational ground has shifted under their feet and they now find themselves in positions of power power, but their confrontational stance still remains unchanged, even though it bears no relationship to the real world they are meant to be governing and commenting on. They're frozen.

1/20/2008 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Nick's position is that he wants Boris Johnson to be bold and then he'll vote for him (but he might anyway). Being bold meant doing things like building in the green belt, IIRC, and generally other things that Johnson has never shown any inclination to do.

1/20/2008 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the piece doesn't say that KL "founded" SA, it says that he "found" it

Oh. They don't call me Close-Reading Edwards for nothing...

1/20/2008 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Btw, this is a week late, but here's an old article from Nick having a pop at BNFL and lamenting our "failed nuclear experiment". He's entitled to change his mind in the intervening eight years of course, but I wonder what prompted it.

1/20/2008 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And while we're at it, here's an article from the week before, commending Livingstone as "just the kind of obstinate fighter they [Londoners] would like to see speaking for them as mayor". And nine whole years after Ken went to Gerry Healy's funeral!

(Like me, Nick has clearly been reflecting wistfully on his articles from July 1999, though unlike him, I still agree with them)

1/20/2008 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if he'll be doing a similar hatchet job on Brosi. After all, in addition to all that 'watermelon smile' stuff, he also employed Taki - a self-confessed anit-semite - for several years, not sacking him even after that but simply not letting him write about Israel...

But obvously it's only left-wing antisemitism that's a problem eh.

1/20/2008 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

n ref the "fairly detailed history", the man for the job is PETE FRAME (of rock family trees fame): he is not parti pris, very meticulous, and has lovely handwriting

1/20/2008 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

If all the Decents have on Livingstone is a tired rehash of the Socialist Action stuff its pretty thin gruel.

Cohen is indulging in the tactic of throwing as much muck as possible - even if only very vaguely connected with Livingstone - in the hope that some of its stinks.

But even in the USA red baiting has less power, where the last red scare was in the 1950s and has been recognised as fundamentally illiberal.

I think the burghers of London are more interested in how Ken has run the capital for the last few years. The notion that the J.S. Mill quoting Ken is a red mole happily running (very) capitalist London is laughable.

1/21/2008 05:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure that Ken is unelectable by the way - he's still the bookies' favourite and it is not as if Boris Johnson doesn't have a few skeletons. (Also, it is all well and good to elect someone because they are quite good at playing a bumbling toff on "Have I Got News For You", but I think we do all quite like the way that things in London more or less work, and Bozza is a notoriously crap administrator even of The Spectator).

1/21/2008 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A far more interesting example of the Far Left becoming the Right is Jose Manuel Barroso (you may have heard of him: he has some big job in Europe!). He was a member of MRPP in post-1974 Portugal then left Portugal (probably to the USA) and came back as a Right-wing politician. Eventually he took Portugal into the "Coalition of the Willing" in 2003.

The fact that he was a member of a Maoist group is rarely mentioned. Does Nick have a view on this political trajectory? Barroso seems to have got away with it because he muttered the magic words "I did it to fight the Communists". This is a very odd argument. MRPP, being Maoists, were more Stalinist than the PCP and even painted on walls "Viva as ideias de Estaline". (I didn't know that Stalin had any ideas so it's even odder.) MRPP were usually critical of other Left groups because they weren't violent enough. So either Barroso is admitting that MRPP were agents provocateurs or he had very mixed-up political views.

Barroso is now part of the political establishment, so his past isn't mentioned. Ken is still seen as outside the establishment so Nick goes through his dustbin and would seem to want Boris to be Mayor (even though we know next to nothing about his policies on public transport or waste disposal). I wonder how much further downhill the Observer can go.


1/21/2008 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Johnston plays at being a bumbling fool I think he is a bumbling fool. He reminds me a bit of the Peter Sellars character in Being There, people take his idioicies and inanities as being the product of a "colourful character" rather than being idiocies and inanities. Still, I suppose it shows that an Eton education still works wonders – worth every penny.

1/21/2008 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

He's not just an efficient administrator who's pushed popular policies through, he has very good links to community groups across London and a lot of people owe him favours. Its hard to see Johnson, who doesn't even live in London, making much impact outside the centre.

1/21/2008 02:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, the Standard seems to be operating on the assumption that all of the outer boroughs will break for Boris, but Hounslow is like three times the size of Kingston-on-Thames. But we shouldn't underestimate the Labour drag factor - I score it pretty even.

1/21/2008 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Ken might lose because of New Labour policies that he disagrees with? I guess that that is what some parts of the Labour Establishment want: use their own failures to get rid of Ken.


1/22/2008 11:21:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home