Saturday, 27 September 2008

Tony McNulty for Chief Whip?

So says The Sun.

Peter Hitchens records McNulty's words to an Index on Censorship gathering on Monday 16th June (the strange reference to the "outlaw community" is to his Irish background - the academic Conor Gearty had used this phrase earlier):

"It is not my job to pass laws that outlaw radical politics. It is not my job to come up with laws that say 'anyone who says they don't like George Bush, Tony Blair or what's happened or not happened over the last 5-10 years is somehow a violent extremist'. It absolutely isn't.

"I know it's terribly hard to believe but I used to be radical myself. I used to think that politics was about selling excuse was I was very, very young but, you know, like a lot of government I'm an ex-Trot.

"And discovered myself in a very very clumsy way what politics was all about and what I wanted from politics.

"I say - by the by - at a time when it was very very dodgy in some senses to be so coming from the 'outlaw community'. I remember growing up in the 70s, I remember my father coming to me and saying 'Can I just have a look at all those books you've got and I know you're every interested amongst other things in Irish politics but PTA (The Prevention of Terrorism Act) has just been passed, if you've got anything there from or by the IRA you'd better get rid of it'.

"I don't say that's anything like the experiences that some have now but I do understand that the mythology that says that as a consequence of that the entire Irish community in this country were against the terrorism effort or against the PTA doesn't follow at all. This is how far back I go...In the late 60s going to church in Kilburn and seeing young men dressed all in black with berets and sunglasses on 'collecting for the boys' - as it was described at the time - and old ladies going up and spitting at them and throwing the collection bucket the time. I do think there are very thin parallels between all aspects of the Irish position and what prevails now. I know it's difficult, I know it's contested terrain. I am not about outlawing young people from any community having radical views, and disagreeing with my views. It's absolutely the opposite."

Which is why some of us are determined to restore the party that was otherwise destroyed by Communist and Trotskyist infiltration of the unions and the Constituency Labour Parties respectively, eventually leading to the creation of New Labour by utterly unrepentant old Communists, Trotskyists and fellow-travellers who had merely moved on in terms of their means from economics to the culture wars, with their ends entirely unchanged.

The party owing "more to Methodism than to Marx", indeed owing nothing whatever to Marx. The party of the Welfare State, workers' rights, progressive taxation, full employment, strong local government and a strong Parliament.

The party (or, at least, a party - the same gap now exists where the Tories used to be) of, in the words of Hitchens, "patriotism, the Armed Forces, proper policing, proper schools, traditional religion, marriage, and the Monarchy".

The party of Attlee, Bevin, Morrison, Bevan and Gaitskell.

Not the party of Tony McNulty.

You know what you have to do.


  1. In McNulty's comments "I'm an ex-Trot" is the most significant phrase. You always put such things in the present tense.

    It is always amusing when Hitchens' arrogantly takes the high ground on this, ex-IS member that he is.

    I wonder if the leading Labour
    Party figures you keep
    name checking
    would have taken the socially conservative clerical route you apply to them. For instance,
    Morrison was something of a film buff and Gaitskell had a long standing affair with Ann Fleming, the wife of Ian, a "pornographer"
    according to Paul Johnson. I point this out, because only someone censorious, like Hitchens or yourself, would find something to object to in McNulty's speech.

  2. What you want is a culturally conservative and economically socialist party.

    What I want is a culturally progressive and economically centrist party.

    Neither of us will get what we want whilst the electoral system means that all the parties are pushed to become as much like each other as possible , so that they can legitimately contain people with entirely opposing views and values, in the hope of being able to concoct a winning coalition.

    We cannot expect the variety of views which exist to be covered by three parties.

  3. Merseymike, not by those three parties, no. You are quite right about the need to move beyond FPTP.

    Philip, at least the figures whom you cite had the decency to pay vice's tribute to virtue, rather than to flaunt their activities.

    No one can be in any doubt that Hitchens has changed his mind. Nor does he miss any opportunity to apologise for activities which he freely admits were wrong *even at the time*. That is the key difference.

    If it is "censorious" to object to Trotskyism or the IRA (odd bedfellows anyway, but never mind), then I am very happy to be "censorious".