Adriano Sofri, Brutus, Italy, liberal interventionism, Lotta Continua, Luigi Calabresi, murder, Paul Berman, Politics, Robespierre, the left, The New Republic

murder, that ancient faith

Paul Berman (‘The Convert’) marvels at Adriano Sofri’s journey extraordinaire from revolutionary leader of the extra-parliamentary left in the ’70s to courageous voice of liberal interventionism in the ’90s. Berman takes Sofri’s story to support the thesis that military foreign intervention is, after all, left-wing. With such thesis, which I myself accept, I have no qualms. What I want to dispute is Berman’s choice of Sofri’s case to defend it. The continuity between Sofri the revolutionist and Sofri the liberal interventionist is obvious as much as it is crude – the constant being a belief in violence as a legitimate means to political achievement. If Sofri, in 1972, thought it necessary to kill Calabresi to vindicate the exploitation of the working classes, it is no wonder that, in later life, he had no objection to military intervention in aid of the oppressed. A useful reminder to us of the left that murder, from Brutus through Robespierre to Sofri, is our political weapon of choice.

(hat tip: Camillo)

Alan Milburn, Alex Salmond, Blairites, Britain, Charles Clarke, general elections, gordon brown, IRA, Iraq, John McDonnell, labour leadership, Labour Leadership Contest, Labour Party, Michael Meacher, New Labour, Politics, Scotland, SNP, socialism, the left, Tony Blair

…running out…

When Meacher pulled out on Monday, I thought that the leadership contest was on. I was wrong. It is now Wednesday evening, and it is looking increasingly likely that John McDonnell will not get the required 45 nominations. At 6pm, he is still 16 short, and there are only 16 MPs that have still to declare (among those, Charles Clarke and Frank Field): Brown has 307 against McDonnell’s 29.

UPDATE: it’s over. Brown’s got 308 and McDonnell has conceded defeat. This is a sad day for British democracy.

Some considerations on this development: I was expecting Brown not only to let McDonnell run, but possibly to encourage a challenge. Apparently he hasn’t done so. Two possibilities: Brown is indifferent on whether there will be a contest or not because, we can only guess, he has polls telling him that the public won’t mind either way. Labour’s support might be falling, but the fall won’t be accelerated – or so the polls might predict – by a ‘coronation’. If such polls existed, and were accurate, I would be surprised. It definitely wouldn’t be good news for British democracy.

Alternatively, Brown might be actively looking to avoid a contest. Maybe he thinks that McDonnell’s support among unions and party members would be high enough to put him in an uncomfortable situation. The next government might then be forced into acknowledging so much support for Old Labour in its policies, if not in its composition. If this latter scenario is anywhere near the truth, then all the more reason for wanting a contest; because if Brown’s fears are justified, then the Chancellor is effectively silencing his own electorate by stopping McDonnell. And that can’t be good for politics; it can’t be good for Britain; it can’t be good for Labour’s chances at the next elections; and therefore, in the end, it can’t be good for Brown (caveat: it might be that Brown has convinced himself that he will lose at the next general elections, and that therefore he wants to make the most of his time in government. In that case, stopping McDonnell might make sense. But I don’t believe that Labour doesn’t have chances coming 2009, nor do I believe that Brown believes that).

Another interesting thing is that Milburn is supporting Brown, while Clarke hasn’t announced yet. It might be that the former Home Secretary is waiting to see McDonnell’s numbers, and that he is only willing to nominate him if that will turn out to be necessary for a contest. Indeed, McDonnell is miles away from Clarke, but my enemy’s enemy… On the other hand, it might be that Blairites want Brown to lose at the next general elections, and so are promoting a ‘coronation’ – see Milburn’s and Byers’ support. Lots of people would like to think that the Blairites are willing to do anything to screw Brown, but I would be very surprised if that included putting their own political careers and salaries at risk – as inevitably they would do by promoting Labour’s defeat next time around.

One final remark: if we take the way in which MPs are nominating seriously, from a political point of view that is, then we might have to conclude that the kind of leftism represented by John McDonnell is really no longer at home within the Labour Party. And this would have to be added to Blair’s legacy: “I left a Party where socialists couldn’t even get enough nominations to stand for leader”. In this respect, it is indeed a shame that to represent the left is someone which such ideological foreign policy ideas such as McDonnell (see IRA+Iraq).

Oh, and Alex Salmond is the new First Minister of Scotland.

Bobby Sands, Britain, gordon brown, IRA, John McDonnell, labour leadership, Labour Leadership Contest, Labour Party, Michael Meacher, Politics, pop-leftism, socialism, Terrorism, the left

Who is John McDonnell MP?

John McDonnell is one of two left-wing Labour MPs who have declared their intention to stand against Brown for the Labour Party Leadership. On Monday, it will be announced if it is going to be McDonnell or Michael Meacher to challenge Brown.

I’m no fan of Gordon Brown. Also, I think that a contest, since they are not going to give us a general election – which they should – is better than a coronation. So I’m glad that someone is standing against Brown – even though they haven’t got a chance.

But now I discover that this McDonnell, who used to work with Ken Livingstone, is a shameless fan of the IRA. In 2003, McDonnell said the following while celebrating Bobby Sands:

It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA.

Contacted later by the Sun, McDonnell stood by his words:

The deaths of innocent civilians in IRA attacks is a real tragedy, but it was as a result of British occupation in Ireland,” he told the tabloid. Because of the bravery of the IRA and people like Bobby Sands we now have a peace process.

The usual story with these bloody so-called socialists. One discovers how stupid and rotten they are even before having the chance to look into their social policies. So now, if McDonnell is indeed the left-wing candidate, we’ll have to support Brown. Who would have ever thought!

UPDATE: here‘s the Sun’s piece that I refer to in the post (hat tip: korova)

UPDATE 2: here McDonnell explained his remarks, saying, among other things:

Irish republicans have to face the fact that the use of violence has resulted in unforgivable atrocities. No cause is worth the loss of a child’s life. No amount of political theory will justify what has been perpetrated on the victims of the bombing campaigns.

It appears that McDonnell didn’t mean to justify the armed struggle, but that he only meant to emphasise the supposed positive contribution of the armed struggle towards the improvement of the situation in Northern Ireland. As it happens, the former claim is often hidden behind the latter. That’s because no one thinks (or at least ever says) that killing innocent people is a good thing: the question is rather whether one thinks that the IRA should have done that to achieve its aims. We think not. What does McDonnell think?

Britain, Conservatives, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Central, Holyrood Elections, Jack McConnell, Labour Party, LibDems, Politics, Sarah Boyack, Scotland, Scottish Elections 2007, Scottish Green, scottish independence, SNP, Solidarity, SSP, the left, Tony Blair

LibDems are out in Edinburgh Central

Well done to McGellie for catching the LibDems faking data on their electoral adverts for Edinburgh Central. I already couldn’t vote for Tory and SNP; now I can’t vote LibDem either… guess who’s left? Good old labour… so Sarah Boyack is probably gonna get my vote by default.

Which reminds me: SSP, Green, and Solidarity not having candidates for the Constituency vote is a huge favour to Labour – remember that next time they slag off Tony Blair or McConnell.

Britain, Conservatives, discrimination, Labour Party, New Labour, Politics, The Guardian, the left, Tony Blair, unemployment

The New Guardian

I have always found it stunning how The Guardian pretends to be this huge critic of the New Labour government while at the same time, when it really matters, like near elections, it always knows where to stand (and stands there unashamedly): with New Labour. You can also consistently find this tendency in articles that attack the Tory, like last week’s piece (by Jackie Ashley) on family values. I was surprised (but really reassured) to find Ashley falling wholeheartedly for the kind of New Labour rhetoric and propaganda from which The Guardian would, and should, supposedly, pride itself to be immune:

The real problem is a small proportion of deeply disadvantaged, poor, unambitious, badly educated people whose lives are falling apart before they have even begun.

Now what’s really surprising about this is not even that Ashley is blaming the poor for being poor; but that she buys into the idea that this is a “small proportion” of the population. Sure enough, Blair‘s legacy has largely depended on having enlisted lots of people to the ranks of the middle classes; but that maneuver depended on isolating, possibly even for good, a part of society, that Ashley seems to think it’s “small”. Not even the B. man himself would dare to say that. But I guess Ashley never sees them, the “small” people. And that’s the other truth about The Guardian and socialists in general: you can try to stand for folk to which you don’t belong, but it won’t last – and, more importantly, it will always end up in tears; ask History.

So one goes through thousands of annoying, badly argued, bias, unsurprising Guardian‘s articles, to find, in the end, that they can’t come up with anything better than New Labour‘s own vision for Britain – and at least Blair‘s speech-writers can sugar-cover it quite nicely.

p.s. thanks to Dave On Fire for the funky quotation tip.