A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lemmings for Labour

Yet another person who ought to know better but is spouting utter tripe is Oona King. Today's article by her in the Observer http://politics.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1843583,00.html wins several prizes as most trite, ill-thought-out, tokenistic and generally unhelpful contribution to the debate about Labour's future - the kind of "me-tooism" that makes Lemmings look free-thinking (actually I take that back because backing Harman for Deputy Leader is stunning in its originality - so stunning that no one else has thought of doing it).

According to Oona:
  • Blair backed a "a disproportionate and bloody Israeli response to Hizbollah aggression" - strange that because whereas I did back the Israelis and wanted them to be able to carry on until Hizbollah had been destroyed, Blair has consistently said he wanted an early and sustainable ceasefire ( http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page9982.asp)
  • "the Labour party is not so much disgruntled with its leader as appalled" - well I could introduce her to a very large number of members, loads of whom campaigned for her in Bethnal Green thinking she was a Blairite, who would applaud the PM's handling of this issue.
  • "The party may reply, at next month's conference, that there's been one misunderstanding after another and it's time to go. " - the evidence for this being what exactly? Which CLP or union is triggering a leadership election and how much support do they have? Presumably they want to replace Blair with Brown whose politics on this issue are, thankfully, identical.
  • "who wears the trousers: is it the cloth-capped trade unionists whose spiritual ancestors are the Tolpuddle Martyrs?" - because you obviously fit that description Oona.
  • "One of the finest principles of international socialism is that we do not turn the other cheek when people are tyrannised." (good so far Oona) BUT "unilateral campaigns as witnessed in Iraq are no solution" i.e. we only actually implement the "the finest principles of international socialism" and end tyranny when we get sign-off from the UN and its fine, principled, socialist human rights loving security council members like China, Mr Putin, and that well known leftwing man of principle Jacques Chirac...
  • "The result of the American and British action, which I supported, has been to replace partial genocide with partial civil war" whereas no action would have left the partial genocide going and let the man perpetrating it re-stock with WMD and the missile capability to drop it on handy nearby places like Tel Aviv.
  • "using the false argument of WMDs" - presumably Tony Blair should have, according to Oona, had the foresight to realise that Saddam was lying when he said he had WMD, and ignored not just his own intelligence services but also those of France, Russia and China who opposed the war but were unanimous about the presence of WMD. Hindsight is a magnificant thing.
  • Iraq needs a "UN force" - composed of who exactly???? It's difficult enough to get the UN member states to come up with serious forces to go into Lebanon, let alone the hundred % more risky and politically controversial situation in Iraq. Can't see the French volunteering for that one. And why would the Baathists, Al-Qaeda or the Shiite militias be less likely to kill each other if a UN force was there?
  • " The earliest practical test of Labour's approach to equality is the deputy leadership election." Yes, an internal party election for a non-job. Strangely I would have thought increasing the minimum wage was a slightly more practical test of equality.
  • Then we get to the crunch - she wants Harriet Harman to be deputy leader. At this point I fell off my chair laughing, having assumed that Hazza's support base didn't extend much further than the Harman/Dromey household. My personal take is that Harman just about qualifies as second most impressive politician in her immediate family, behind Jack, let alone for the number 2 slot in the Labour Party.
  • She enlightens us that she thinks Bush is "more stupid than Mickey Mouse and more dangerous than Saddam Hussein". Quite aside from the sheer childishness of this statement ("I called the most powerful man in the world a rude name, and in a national newspaper, that should restore my street cred with the kids") the second bit sounds remarkably like the kind of demented, indeed perverse world view dished up by ... er... George Galloway ... Whatever Bush's faults, thick he ain't (the guy went to Yale) and making moral comparissons between Bush and Saddam is the kind of idiotic statement you would expect from the SWP.

Oona, you should be ashamed to write this nonsense.

If this is the quality of Harriet Harman's fan club, in the unlikely event that she gets elected will the last person to leave the Labour Party please turn out the lights?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you on this Luke

I feel betrayed after going all out to try and get her elected last time.

6:03 pm, August 13, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

She probably wrote it an attempt to help her chances at the next General Election, since Galloway won't be standing.
She could have held the seat last time if she was a little bit organised - no self discipline, unable to impose any on her staff.

6:29 pm, August 13, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

If it's not an All Woman Shortlist I'd be tempted to run in the selection myself just to give people a choice. I'm as local as she was when she was first selected. Any nominations going spare out there?

6:38 pm, August 13, 2006

Blogger Dave Cole said...

The title, though, is accurate: there is something of an identity crisis in Labour.

There are arguments for intervention and non-intervention by military means in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and so on. Some would always say no, some would always say yes and I think most in Labour would say yes some of the time and no most of the time.

The question is as to where the party draws the line, who draws that line and whether it, and the manner in which it is drawn and the reasons for which it is drawn.

8:08 pm, August 13, 2006

Blogger Tom said...

-but Blair has not acted sufficiently fast on those premises... because he has been to afraid to step out of line with the US, which, when needs be, we should do
-Hmm. I'm sticking with disgruntled. Since 2001, I've developed a tough skin when it comes to being appalled!
-yeah, you're right. can't see it happening.
-once again correct, but the question still stands. Blair denies that there is even a conflict
-I'd place Chirac to the left of Blair...
-That's why we should reform the UN, devote a lot more resources to it, and abolish the veto, in favour of some special majority
-Totally agree with you on this one Luke.
-in my view, that's the one with the most, and the nastiest weapons. That's Bush. His religious faith also worries me intensely. On the other hand, we have people with not many weapons who are more psychotic, e.g. Kin Il Sung. Personally though, I hate the lot of 'em. I'm with the anti-war democrats, I'm afraid.
On a more interesting note, did you read what Kitty Ussher had to say? The knives certainly are out.

Who does Blair have left? There are few in the PLP (which is markedly to the right of the wider party anyway...) who have not been as yet alienated.

10:06 pm, August 13, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Yes I did read it, more in sorrow than in anger.

12:30 pm, August 14, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it was quite an interesting, honest piece from Oona, and a timely reminder that she's human, and that not all the pro-War brigade are evil. :-)

Incidently Luke, your comment:
"presumably Tony Blair should have, according to Oona, had the foresight to realise that Saddam was lying when he said he had WMD" is absurd. I've opposed Saddam Hussain when the likes of you still liked to pretend the outrages against the Kurds were collateral damage from Iran, but it is frankly ridiculous to pretend now that Saddam said he had weapons of mass destruction. When he had them he (eventually, on being pressed) had to admit he had them. Since destroying what was left, and the rest degrading because it was in a shocking, unstable state, he said year after year that it wasn't there. The foresight was required to see that he wasn't lying. Which - were it not for the evidence of logic and very comprehensive reports - such as that of Dr. Glen Rangwala, produced before the war - might have needed some foresight indeed.

5:08 pm, August 14, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duncan you said:
"When he had them he (eventually, on being pressed) had to admit he had them." - well that's one way of looking at it.
What actually happened - a split in the regime, his son-in-law fled to Jordan and told the UN about the WMD. The UN had been in Iraq for 3 years looking, they had no idea about the WMD.
You also ignore the fact that every country thought Iraq did have WMD in 2003 - the disagreement was about what to do about it.

12:02 pm, August 15, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The UN did have some idea about the WMD, otherwise they wouldn't have been there looking. The UN knew about it because a whole raft of democratic countries had been selling him them for years, and the delivery methods for using them (take Donald Rumsfeld's friendly visit to seal the deal on crop-spraying helicopters to distribute chemical weapons). The son-in-law blew the whistle on the extent of the biological programme, which was already known about really because the US (amongst other countries) had sold them the raw materials.

When you say all countries believed him to have WMD this is only a sketch at the truth: most of the world's intelligence starts in Washington, and most of the CIA intelligence on WMD in Iraq (much of it apparently collected by agents embedded amongst the UN inspectors) was accepted uncritically by other intelligence bodies. However, even in that context, many countries (e.g. France, Russia, China, etc.) were hugely sceptical of the 'new' evidence that the US and the UK presented to the UN in the build-up to the 2003 war.

Semantics played such a big part in all this. Where UN reports talked of amounts being 'unaccounted for', intelligence reports talked of them being 'hidden'. But those amounts were estimates, and the amounts destroyed were little more than estimates. I strongly recommend googling Dr. Glen Rangwala's report into this - he has updated it a little since the war, but it was an astonishingly accurate assessment of what would be found in Iraq: all based on public sources.

It wrote an article about this on a blog of mine so I've put that page as 'my web page' this time, if you want to have a read. I think it's the bottom one ('Anatomy of a Lie')

12:45 pm, August 15, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry - just in case you are interested in that article, if you click on my name and go to the blog, click on 'Iraq' in the topics bit, the article is called 'In Good Faith: Analysis of a lie'. I wrote it quite a while ago now, but please enjoy!

1:49 pm, August 15, 2006

Blogger kris said...

Dear Luke, When I read that you were toying with the idea of running in Bethnal Green I nearly snorted my full-fat coke all over the computer screen. Do you really think you can win a seat in the taliban central constituency?

4:18 pm, August 15, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

It wasn't an entirely serious suggestion, though one never rules anything out. I gather the debate in the local party is about choosing between Oona and a Muslim candidate.

4:23 pm, August 15, 2006

Blogger kris said...

Our friends from "Respect" and their current BB MP will ensure, one way or another, that Labour don't have a look in this time. You thought it was ugly last time? I wonder if our PC friends are willing to write off the whole east end to those guys?

5:03 pm, August 15, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

My hunch is there will be massive tactical voting to defeat Respect - as per this May when Labour kept Tower Hamlets because the Lib Dem vote collapsed, offsetting loses to Respect.

5:24 pm, August 15, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duncan you really have an anti-American thing going don't you?
A mention for Donald Rumsfeld, and the US selling chemical materials.
How about a name check for those well known pacifists the French, (er aircraft), the Germans (er nuclear and chemical material), the Russians (er tanks & guns) - well the Chinese must be OK,(missiles).
And the British - well yes, but not a lot really considering Saddam liked his whiskey.
Life is hell for those wanting to be pure.

7:32 pm, August 15, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello "Anonymous" - I referred to a 'whole raft of democratic countries' - as you remind us, several undemocratic countries sold weapons to Iraq too, but that's less surprising. But absolutely - France, Britain, Russia and China (amongst others) should rightly be included amongst the condemnation of the international arms trade - especially vis-a-vis tyrants like Saddam. However, it is not unreasonable to single out the US and the UK in these discussions, because of the faux moral outrage that 'rogue states' might develop such weapons (spewed out while arming Uzbekistan to the teeth, for instance).

I strongly resent the accusation of being 'anti-american'. I love American music; I love lots of American people; I love American films, American literature and American scenery. I just happen to despise its politics (especially its foreign policy).

"Life is hell for those wanting to be pure" - haven't a clue what you're getting at here. Please elucidate.

5:21 pm, August 16, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duncan you protest to much.

7:06 pm, August 16, 2006


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