Saturday, 19 March 2016

Of Lost Causes

For many decades, the United States Senate remained a curiously Southern institution, the only place where the South had never quite lost the Civil War.

In similar fashion, it seems be becoming the last stronghold of the Republican Party as that has existed during the Sixth Party System that is otherwise collapsing before our very eyes.

If the Senate is not prepared to approve Merrick Garland, then it needs to be prepared never to approve any other nominee to the Supreme Court, with all the consequences that that would have.

No one who is going to become President in future is going to be acceptable to the people who now control the Senate.

Or even to their kind of people, the kind that is likely to retain that control for quite some time to come.

Perhaps the Senate was always intended to exist outside normal party politics.

But it is far more questionable whether that was intended to be accomplished by having it under the control of a party that had vanished from the rest of the polity.

For such is increasingly the party of Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn.

Would any good come of a Trump Presidency? It would at least be the end of NATO, since most or all other member-states would simply leave.

And it would at least be the end of Trident, since Britain, even under this Government, would simply refuse to have the thing under such control.

Trump's rich boy draft dodge was flagrant even by the standards of those things. To this day, he cannot tell you which foot had the problem.

No one who served in Vietnam will ever now be President, and the electorate has twice declined to elect distinguished, even celebrated examples of those veterans.

(One of them has gone on to be a far better Secretary of State than his predecessor ever was, securing deals even with Cuba and Iran.)

Yet that is the American Republic, which was founded in blood, and which has ever since preferred the fighter to the writer as a matter of routine.

How very long a shadow the great lost war in Vietnam has cast, and continues to cast.

Take note, Dan Jarvis and the rest of what is increasingly a politically meddlesome military set, contrary to everything for which this country has ever stood.

If anyone ever did care what you thought, then that perished in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

The beta male Political Class's crush on the Armed Forces, very much comparable to its obsession with the school sport that it so eschewed at the time, does not play at all with the voters at large.

They vaguely remember the boy from school who went into that, and they would not dream of asking his political opinion. They see the events of the last 15 years as fully vindicating that approach.

Even the Americans, and among them even the Republican primary voters of 2016, would rather have a draft dodger than a veteran as President.

There have already been two draft dodgers as President, one of each party. Americans voted for the draft dodger against the Vietnam veteran in a straight fight in 2004.

They voted for the draft dodger against veterans even of the Second World War in 1992 and 1996. Both of Bill Clinton's victories were over men with such records.

But Britain is the country where even the existence of an Army has to be approved by primary legislation every five years.

Our George Washington was Oliver Cromwell, and his side lost.

Hence the complete failure to land a blow on Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell by reference to the Falkland Islands, or Northern Ireland, or shoot to kill, or even Trident.

Hence, I am afraid, the continuing determination to prosecute soldiers over the war in Iraq. The alternative would be to prosecute Tony Blair.

Many of us would welcome that with all our hearts. But this is Britain. So that would never, ever do.

And hence the impossibility of Jarvis as Prime Minister or as Leader of the Labour Party.

Since, unlike other old Forces hands from Ted Heath to Jim Callaghan, he has made that the explicit and even the exclusive basis of his posited qualification for office.

After all, until his election to Parliament, he had never done anything else.

But, for a long time now, that kind of life story would have been a disqualification even in the United States.

It has never been anything else in the United Kingdom, and never more insistently so than after the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Jarvis, his backers and his cheerleaders need to get over it.


  1. Ron Hogg and the NWD Labour Party were knocking on Foxhills Crescent with Neil Fleming today. Did they knock on your door by any chance?

    1. Oh, yes. I am laid up sick again, and I was rather worse so in the morning. But my mother saw them.

      I saw Neil quite by chance waiting for the last bus out of Durham a few Friday nights ago. I was in black tie having been speaking in support of Jeremy Corbyn at a university debate, but people who know me are used to things like that.

      Neil was as loyal to Corbyn as he had been to Blair. He is just one of those people. As he put it me, a civil servant of the party.

    2. He'll still keep you out of the party to the death but I assume you have no desire to be in the same party as Dan Jarvis and the rest of the Shadow Shadow Cabinet.

      This post has some brilliant lines in it. You are the master craftsman, Mr. L.

    3. You are too kind.

      I pity people who couldn't live without a party card.