Dead Men Left

Saturday, June 05, 2004

David Aaronovitch goes all soft and flabby

That was disappointing. After receiving prior warning via the Respect website that the inestimable David Aaronovitch, Blair's broadsheet attack-dog, was planning an expose of Respect's nefarious activities I was waiting with bated breath for a terrifying display of verbal savagery, along the lines of Nick Cohen's New Statesman rant. (Although, in the manner of US planes attacking wedding ceremonies, Cohen's article managed to brutally assault sufficiently misplaced targets as to earn his publication a writ for defamation. It's fun having Galloway on your side.)

Alas, we got neither. Aaronovitch attended a small Respect meeting in Walthamstow on a rainy Wednesday evening, earning "the Trots" a few jeers for being "potty and boring", Galloway a snide remark about his "wasalaam alaikum" greeting, and Muslims the now traditional liberal racist slurs about homophobia. (Note to all: you will find homophobic Muslims. You are more likely, in Britain, to find homophobic Christians. You will also find that Respect, including its Muslim candidates, supports the "right to self-determination... in sexual choices", a stronger declaration of principles in the matter - I'd wager - than any other party standing in the Euro-elections.) And that, I'm afraid, is pretty much that. There is, I suppose, a hint that all those in Respect might be indulging in some systematic deception about the numbers attending its meetings or joining the organisation, but Aaronovitch lacks Cohen's nerve and so doesn't really follow through on this conspiracy theory.

(Cohen's article is taken apart by Lenin over at Lenin's Tomb, though if anything he underplays just how dire it is: based on false rumour, old myth and personal bile, it is a fine tribute to Cohen's collapse as a journalist.)

Added bit:
It was Mahatma Gandhi who suggested this typology for the development of protest movements, corresponding to their effectiveness:

1. they ignore you
2. they laugh at you
3. they attack you

There seems to be some confusion between Aaronovitch and Cohen as to whether Respect merits treatment (2) or (3) but since the approaches are mutually exclusive, I'm more than happy for this state of affairs to continue: either we're too irrelevant to be taken seriously, or we're so important that we must be taken very seriously indeed, but not both at once. Maybe they're trying to cover all the bases, or perhaps we're moving from stage (2) to (3) and Aaronovitch is just a bit slow. The impression throughout his piece is that he was desperately hoping the audience would all be chanting "Death to America! Viva Saddam!" at the end of Galloway's speech, but as they weren't - strangely enough - in his disappointment he's had to resort to playground taunts. He's going to look damn silly if Respect receives anything like a credible vote on June 10.