Thursday, November 20, 2008

Aaro addresses the very real concerns of the white working class

Here we are, and frankly I find it rather congenial, measured stuff for the most part - on this particular occasion, Aaro's view of the BNP as a more or less nugatory threat and a helpful safety valve for votes that mainstream parties would otherwise be chasing coincides with my own (although I note that on this point, several other AW contributors don't agree with me).

Since he took the opportunity for a dig at RESPECT/George Galloway though, I thought I'd note that there is another minority political tendency which also relies on rabble-rousing about Muslims, and which rallies its troops with a constant appeal to violence which is largely repulsive to the wider electorate. Aaro didn't sign its Manifesto, but it's solidly represented on his favourite political website.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a tiny bit confused. Are we saying that Aaronovitch is associated with people, rabble rousing Islamaphobes and advocates of violence, who are just as bad as the BNP, or just as bad as Respect.

And how closely is Aaronovitch associated with these people anyway? Does he share a political platform with them, go to the same weddings or what? I'm new here so I sometimes think that I'm missing some of the basic assumptions.

11/20/2008 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not into making relative value comparisons, but it is a fact that Aaro does in fact regard as his "favourite political website" a site which (at the very least, and in the main posts) trades very heavily in a very biased picture indeed of Islamic immigrants and (to be less charitable and in the comments sections) is happy to publish actively racist and in some cases eliminationist rhetoric. Added to that, he is demonstrably in favour of a lot of totally unacceptable violence, and on a couple of occasions in the past, in my view he's shaded into actual apologetics for war crimes.

I'm not a great fan of "moral equivalence" as a debating tactic and I don't believe that the Commies were as bad as the Nazis, but equally it's important to realise how very, very nasty a lot of Decent politics is. Aaro's tagline that "It ought to exist, but with no influence on anything at all" is certainly generally applicable.

11/20/2008 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is this 'favourite political website'? Is this something to do with the 'decents' which I take doesn't mean what I think it means?

11/20/2008 07:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a reference to "Harry's Place", the onetime meeting place of the pro-war British Left, and current cesspool of Islamophobic nutcases, which Aaro referred to as his f.p.w a couple of weeks ago.

11/20/2008 07:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, I'll go check it out.

11/20/2008 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would argue that Aaro and you are wrong about the BNP and its relation to more respectable parties. Having the BNP as an accepted if repulsive part of the political landscape provides the exscuse for other parties to exhibit their own xenophobic tendencies. usually with the excuse that talking tough on immigration will return the misguided BNP voter back to the fold.

11/21/2008 06:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with Martin. Let's face it, New Labour have constantly pandered to the anti-immigrant and asylum seeker agenda of the right - we've had another outburst from Phil Woolass this week. And the Tories are never exactly slow to play the race card at election time.
Admittedly I think the right-wing tabloids are more to blame than the BNP but I'm sure I have heard Labout ministers say things along the line of "we have to address people's concerns on immigration or they will be drawn to the BNP".

11/21/2008 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin Kettle scrapes the bottom of the barrel.

11/21/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think he's scraping the barrel so much as doing a U-turn and hoping nobody notices.

Shorter Kettle: Bingham's wrong to say the Iraq invasion was illegal under international law, because if the government had thought that at the time it wouldn't have happened, and if it hadn't happened we would never have found out how disastrous it is when states break international law. It's dialectical innit.

Shorter shorter Kettle:
Ah yes, but we didn't know that then, did we?
But we kept telling you!
Ah yes, but we weren't listening then, were we?

11/21/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure that this is a U-turn, more another exercise in self-justification. Kettle rolls out old excuses:

The first, as he acknowledged in his lecture, is that international law is hard to enforce. ... The second is that, in practice, the security council may be incapable of authorising otherwise legally justifiable military action because China or Russia will use their veto to prevent it.

... and is intransigent about his support for the invasion.

His thesis, that the rule of law is improved by the disastrous outcome, would not be particular well received in the non-Western world, that tends to be at the wrong end of these disasters.

It's also pretty meaningless as well, because the implication is that it's only public opinion that constrains the actions of the West, not the rule of law, which is incidental.

11/21/2008 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

It is, of course, only China and Russia from whom vetoes are ever forthcoming.

11/21/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That whole sentence is just so mendacious. Because anything that the security council passes would be, de facto, legal. But the implication is that any action proposed by the US or UK is a priori "legal" (aka legitimate) but it is only the actions of the dirty (and capricious) foreigners that make it ("theoretically") illegal, and this is somehow illegitimate.

11/21/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Similar to Phil's point, I've mentioned in the past that in context "If only we knew then what we know now" usually means "If only I'd known then what you knew then".

11/21/2008 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Nobody could have foreseen....

Off-topic, or ideally so anyway, Happy Hour this afternoon will be extended into the weekend as I'll be away from the internet until Monday afternoon. So get all your OMG HP! postings off your chests...

11/21/2008 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But how can it be true to say that the rule of law was improved by the disastrous outcome and that the rule of law didn't call for not breaking the law in the first place?

Ultimately I think this is just another episode of TGISOOT, in which Decents wrestle with their consciences and win. This is a variant on the Geras Self-Exculpatory Backflip -

I still think I was right, but even if I had been wrong, we can now see with hindsight that I would in fact have been right. Which is nice.

11/21/2008 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kettle: 'Bingham's view also puts him at odds with Professor Christopher Greenwood, who recently became the UK's representative on the International Court of Justice (ICJ).'

Would it be cynical to suggest that the UK Government nominated Prof Greenwood to the ICJ precisely because of the handy legal opinion he provided them with, suggesting that the invasion of Iraq would be legal?

11/21/2008 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

To hop back on topic, I disagree with both Martin and Andrew. I think I've got two reasons at present.

1) A lot of the "this once-proud nation is drowning in filthy foreigners" type crap comes from the press. Compared to Richard Littlejohn and Melanie Phillips the vast majority of MPs are actually very sober. RL and MP are just a sort of cabaret: they're paid to be outrageous. They're in the Timmy Mallett class of deep thinkers. Actually, that's unfair to Mallett: he went to Cambridge. When MPs go for the rolling-eye rhetoric, I *think* it's a misguided attempt at outreach to the _real_ working class away from Westminster. See the New Statesman's demolition of Liam Byrne.

2) There are really only 2 parties in the US. (There were 6 on the Presidential ballot incredibly enough.) That doesn't stop anti-immigration barrel-scraping by desperate pols. They can't be trying to grab BNP votes because they don't exist. The Tories aren't slow to play the race card because a) some really are racists; and b) they believe that the British working man is racist.

In sum, I don't believe that the BNP *vote* makes any difference to national politics (it's very small and the BNP are an organisational disaster area). So I'm with Aaro: the BNP is a sort of safety valve. They want to believe that they are being persecuted by 'reds' - but as long as they exist and are free to assemble and print what they like their raison d'etre is negated.

11/21/2008 05:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are we still watching nick cohen? if so, anyone know why he's becoming so obsessed by how much Gordon Brown earns a year?

11/23/2008 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's go back off topic again!!!

If the invasion of Iraq has strengthened international law, we would expect to see G Brown, D Milliband, J Straw and the ghost of A Blair to line up to say that the UK Government unreservedly supports international law and would choose international law over the "special relationship with the US" if push came to shove. Furthermore we would expect a few "hear hears" from D Cameron and co. I don't think that I've seen that yet.

Just before the invasion of Iraq, the Government called a meeting of international lawyers. All but one of them said that an invasion of Iraq would be illegal without the second resolution. The exception was Greenwood, and of course he got the job to advise the Government, and has recently been rewarded with an international job.

11/24/2008 02:32:00 PM  

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