Dead Men Left

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The horrible truth descends

Johann Hari has realised what an almighty damn great horrid stinking foul-up we've made of Iraq. The pro-war "left" barely exists outside a division of the myopic and parochial British "political class", a felicitious phrase of Italian origin to sum up the self-selecting clique who do proper politics: MPs and journalists at one end, a sliver of the Sunday newspaper readership at the other. But its prominence in the assorted media has always marked it out, with Johann himself amongst its noisier members. To now have one of the pro-war "left's" leading lights so bluntly proclaim his apostasy indicates how extraordinarily tenuous the position has become; as Lenin points out, Nick Cohen and David Aaronovitch have continued with their pro-war Laurel and Hardy act, from which a certain amusement can be squeezed, if little else. Credit, once more, to Johann for his comparative honesty here.

I raise this because Johann's speaking at the Institute of Contemporary Arts tomorrow evening. (I'm going, Lenin's going, Mr Staines may put in an appearance - 7pm onwards) He'll be presenting the case for voting Labour, in opposition to - amongst others - China Mieville, improbable sci-fi author and the "sexiest man in British politics" (Evening Standard, c. April 2001), who'll be speaking for Respect. Given that Johann will presumably not list the dawning of a new era of peace and freedom in the Middle East amongst his reasons to vote Labour, I suspect he'll make a great play of the government's supposed achievements on bread-and-butter Labour issues: redressing fundamental inequalities, tackling poverty, improving social mobility - that sort of thing.

As a few recent posts at DML have indicated, the government's record here is actually pretty dire, with few exceptions; but in the absence of any better reasons to vote Labour, I strongly suspect this very thin material will be stretched and stretched again before this year's general election by those trying to cover New Labour's failing of the most basic standards of progressive government.