Thursday, 26 June 2014

Gove West

Admiral Lord West has challenged Michael Gove to a fistfight over the suggestion that the Left is unpatriotic.
Gove, who used to chair seminars of Marxism Today readers at around the time that Alan West was commanding a frigate in the Falklands War, is very patriotic indeed.
But not towards Britain.
Rather, towards an idea of America which America has rejected at the ballot box, towards an idea of Israel which is dying out in Israel, and towards the faltering Murdoch Empire.
This dispute has given me cause to reproduce an exchange below the line 10 days ago, in response to Owen Jones's Guardian article on Magna Carta and all that.
Brian wrote:
It may be an accident arising out of the end of the USSR, but the whole of the Left is now the most patriotic force in British politics.
There is no longer a pro-Soviet as well as many kinds of anti-Soviet faction. There are only the equal opponents of the EU, American domination, transnational corporations, Rupert Murdoch, excessive Israeli influence and funny money from the Gulf or wherever.
Extraparliamentary figures like Peter Oborne, Peter Hitchens and certain freelances and bloggers hold that line. Very occasional MPs far outside the Tory mainstream and in several cases about to retire try their best.
But most of the Right is extremely pro-American, pro-Israeli, pro-Saudi and beholden to Murdoch, the City and Wall Street. They are so convinced that is what being a conservative is, they never even think about it.
The remains of that from the New Labour days are definitely on the way out, no Labour MP voted for war in Syria, not one.
The all directions patriotism of Tony Benn, Michael Foot and the line below the gangway starting with Dennis Skinner is now obviously the whole point of being Labour and on the Left to people who are.
Just as being pro-global capital, pro-American, pro-Israeli and in practice pro-Saudi is now obviously the whole point of being Tory and on the Right to people who are.
The one weak link for some Labour people is the EU but the TTIP will take care of that. The TTIP that Ukip supports, so much for United Kingdom independence there.
To which I replied:
Thank you so much for that, Brian. Absolutely spot on.
Worth adding is that, while they did and do keep certain company, Tony Benn was not a Marxist, Michael Foot was not a Marxist, and neither Dennis Skinner nor many, if any, of his companions past and present was or is a Marxist.
They were and are figures of the much older tradition on which Benn would hold forth, and which Owen, despite the fact that he probably would call himself a Marxist (although I am open to correction on that), sets out here.
Owen on The Guardian indicates a certain return to its Northern Radical roots, so to speak, as does the presence of, for example, John Harris.
The presence of the old Manchester Guardian in the Parliamentary Press Gallery was always part of the presence of the Radical tradition within the parliamentary process.
Today, that is continued by various Guardian, Observer, Independent, New Statesman, Mirror Group and provincial figures, with others representing Fabianism and so on.
And by what are now the long post-Cold War Tribune (in many ways always of the Foot and Benn school) and Morning Star.
It is notable that that latter and the old Daily Worker were always in the Lobby, right through the Cold War.
Those papers and the old CPGB, figures such as Mick McGahey, always had a much more eclectic approach than many abroad and some at home who shared their links.
In any case, their target audience placed them within its own sophisticated intellectual and political culture, of which they themselves were very much a feature among many others, taking them both as and with a large pinch of salt, as required.
All very British. All very, very, very British, indeed.

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