Saturday, 7 May 2005

Not PC celebrates a Labour victory

Christopher Hitchens says he's waited forty years to "vote Labour on a point of principle," but the recent UK election has made that possible. Read Hitchen's extended comments here. For myself, I have to say I did once enjoy a Labour victory - 1987's Labour win is still a milestone in NZ's political history - but I little thought such a time would come again. It has.

Blair's principled stand on the liberation of Iraq has however made it possible to actually enjoy his election victory, for where his political opponents and spineless other European 'statesmen' vacillated and wavered (Bonjour Monsieur Chirac, Herr Schroeder and the miserable Michael Howard) Tony Blair has been absolutely solid on the necessity for the Iraq invasion. And he was right to be so.

This was really what the British call a khaki election, one in which Blair's stand in Iraq was put to the people of Britain. Thankfully the side of right has won. Just.

"Arguing about the war in Britain is quite different, in point of tone and alignment, from debating it in the United States," says Hitchens. Very different to debating it here as well. Unlike here and in the US, Britain seems to allow a rather more nuanced view on the necessity for regime change than the reflexive bile always so evident elsewhere when the words 'Bush' and 'Iraq' are mentioned in the same sentence.

Everywhere that is except, it seems, in the Tory party (Hitchens suggests "Anti-Americanism in Britain has long been a conservative rather than a radical trope, and dislike for George Bush is very common among the aristocratic remnant") or electorates such as Bethnal Green and Bow in which unreconstructed Stalinist and paid-up Saddamite apologist George Galloway - expelled from the Labour Party for calling for jihad on British soldiers - managed to disgrace his own election victory with a taste of the bitterness his campaign of hate engendered. (See some of that bitterness here in his interview with Jeremy Paxman.) Much of that hatred was deservedly directed at Galloway himself; as Hitchens comments, "How satisfying that those who support the Iraqi 'insurgency' from a safe distance have now received a taste of its real character."

So in the end, as says,"Tony Blair has won a historic third term as prime minister--but he has little to be happy about, since he did it with only 37 percent of the vote as his party lost dozens of seats in Parliament. The only reason he won was the incredible weakness of the opposition, especially Conservative leader Michael Howard, who went through an embarrassing series of flip-flops on the Iraq war (and who now plans to resign).

Tony Blair is an odd combination of Peter Keating and Gail Wynand. (OK, that's a stretch, but bear with me.) Like Keating (and Clinton), Blair sought to be all things to all people, pursuing a compromising "Third Way" policy. Like Wynand, however, what brought him down was his one semi-principled act: his support for the Iraq War, an act that could not be made consistent with his overall character and history."

[UPDATE: I just came across this BBC account of the Oona King-George Galloway brawl in Tower Hamlets. Said Oona of George, "What makes me sick is that when I come across someone who is guilty of genocide I do not get on a plane and go to Baghdad and grovel at his feet," referring to Mr Galloway's controversial meeting with Saddam Hussein 11 years ago. Almost makes me wish I could have voted for her myself.]


  1. Well I'm in the money. I had a bet with some lefty types - I said we were going to get a trifecta - Bush, Howard and Blair about a year ago. A good endorsement for the Iraq effort. That's quite right about Blair and Keating ;-) On another note you may not have read the satirist at - he is hilarious. Read "Bush killed the Pope" But I digress.

  2. So let me get this straight. You wish you could have voted for a flaky social democrat like Oona King, but... you support the removal of ACT from parliament and are thinking of standing against Rodney Hide because he's not libertarian enough. How truly consistent of you!

  3. Blair, you obviously missed the word "almost" and my explanation why she would deserve it.

    And when have I said I'm "thinking of standing against Rodney Hide because he's not libertarian enough"?

  4. If anyone else has a similar question to blair's about Blair and why I'm celebratign his vivtory even more than his own MPs are, I share Irfan Khawaja's own thoughts on the matter here - and he links to the same article by Christopher Hitchens to make his point.

    And Cameron Pritchard makes some interestign points here about Oona King and George Galloway that I would also endorse.

  5. PC, say what you like about Chirac's unhelpful and destructive grandstanding in the lead-up to the Iraq War, but it is complete nonsense to suggest that Schroeder's stance on the issue was one of vascillation and wavering. In point of fact, Schroeder opposed the war right from the start, and never changed his stance on that. He said right from the start that Germany could not and would not commit troops to a pre-emptive war as it runs counter to the German constitution, and that stance never changed either. Though Germany had a seat on the Security Council at the time and said that it would vote against any resolution (not tested, as it happened), Germany does not have and has never had a Security Council veto. That means that a German nein would not, in and of itself, have scuppered the project, unlike a French veto-empowered non. The German stance was actually every bit as principled as you consider the US and British stances on the Iraq war to have been. The difference, of course, is that you disagree with the principle. That *does not* make it unprincipled and it *certainly* does not make it wavering and vascillating. In order to be wavering and vascillating you have to waver and vascillate, not just disagree with Peter Cresswell. Let's keep the posturing over the Iraq war within the bounds of what actually happened, shall we?

  6. BB, you say: " PC, say what you like about Chirac's unhelpful and destructive grandstanding in the lead-up to the Iraq War..." thank you, I will :-) "...but it is complete nonsense to suggest that Schroeder's stance on the issue was one of vacillation and wavering."

    Well, look at it this way. When anti-Bush hatred was at its peak in Old Europe in 2002, Schroeder cashed in quite happily and even incited more of his own. He also offered too many easy answers to too many difficult problems. Both are now coming back to bite him. He's found since that the solutions aren't at all easy, and he's trapped by his earlier opportunism and by his party's failure at recent elections; and by now he's realised too that Germany really does need America, and that with Flip-Flop Kerry's loss in the election the 'Old Europeans' had hoped he would win, they now do have to work with Bush. So Schroeder's now trying to put his earlier crass opportunism to one side and he's trying to make hay.

    He's surrounded on one side however by anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation nuts complaining about foreign 'locusts,' and on the other by his own 'pragmatic' recent commitments to Aghanistan and Iraq. And he's skewered by his earlier opportunism.

    So it seems those 'principles' you claim for Herr Schroeder include the principle of "Machiavellian willingness to cut deals with anyone" as this commentator calls it.

    Frankly I'm quite happy, BB, to call principled behaviour exactly that when I see it, but I don't see rank opportunism and flip-flopping as in any way principled. Fair play to Schroeder for eventually seeing where is bread is buttered abroad by now sending troops to Afghanistan and helping train Iraq's new security forces, but can he now keep restrained the anti-capitalist forces at home that he was happy to unleash and pander to in order to help him win an election. And does he even care to restrain them?

  7. "Blair, you obviously missed the word "almost" and my explanation why she would deserve it."

    Tsk, Peter, now you sound like a politician!

    And shame on me for believing you were thinking of standing for Epsom on a matter of principle! Obviously the desire to try and steal votes off ACT is your primary motivation. I wish you luck.


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