Dead Men Left

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Burn the witch

Comment is Free rank their articles by "activity": the more people posting replies to the original, the higher the ranking. I was vaguely surprised to see that this - fairly nondescript - article was currently top the of the vox pops, until I remembered its authour was a WOMAN with a HEADSCARF and therefore a MUSLIM. It certainly gets the crazies good and excited:

Now, once again, we are subjected to Soumaya Ghannoushi ? what is this, the softly softly steel fist in velvet glove approach?

Are these people so up themselves and their oh so right approach to life that they cannot see the obvious: WE ARE ON TO THEM ALL!!!!...

Yeah, that told her, with her uppity literacy and shit. (Oh, and those "anarchist SWP supporters", a beautiful phrase that offers a tantalising glimpse of the ocean of ignorance behind it.) Depressing stuff; the slack-jawed howlers have more confidence of late. Can't imagine why.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Wicker Tam"

Bit slow off the mark, but news from distant parts takes its time. Front page of the Scottish Mirror, Friday 25 August:

Tommy Sheridan's SSP rivals burned an effigy of their former leader in a scene straight out of The Wicker Man.

Activists on a woodland retreat cheered as the life-sized model went up in flames, echoing the climax of the 1973 cult movie.

A witness said: "The event was supposed to be about learning more about socialism. But it soon became clear that most people there only wanted to bitch about Tommy Sheridan.

"There was a bonfire made up and then this effigy of Tommy was brought out and thrown on. It was bizarre." The training weekend, called Camp Secret Squirrel, was organised by the Scottish Socialist Youth (SSY) wing of the SSP...

Mr Sheridan yesterday dismissed the incident as an "embarrassment". He added: "I really don't want to comment any further."

But a source close to the Glasgow MSP said it shows why he feels he must leave the SSP and set up a new socialist party.

The source said: "This is not something he'll be losing any sleep over. But it does show the kind of people we're up against in what remains of the Scottish Socialist Party.

"These people would rather burn effigies of Tommy Sheridan than get out there fighting New Labour and the Tories. It's about time that some of them got a life.

"They really have to ask why they got into politics if all they want to do is burn effigies of fellow socialists. This shows why the time has come to seriously consider the creation of a new, inclusive left-wing party in Scotland that people can feel comfortable with."

More interesting than this sectarian lunacy is the Mirror's editorial comment on Sheridan:

No wonder Tommy Sheridan wants to leave the crisis-hit SSP.

His fellow Socialist MSPs have already tried to bring him down by giving evidence against him in court.

Now some of his so-called comrades have burnt his effigy at a secret camp in the wilds of Lanarkshire.

The crazy stunt is just another example of a nasty streak that seems to run through some in the far-left party.

They seem more concerned with attacking Tommy Sheridan - who helped found the party - than getting on with the job they were elected to do.

At the last election thousands voted for the Socialists hoping they would fight for a fairer Scotland.

And the party's six MSPs made a good start - putting forward popular proposals such as free school meals for all and scrapping prescription charges.

But the party has now become a laughing stock.

The task of rebuilding a credible left-wing party in Scotland will no doubt rest on Tommy Sheridan's shoulders.

But he will only succeed if he ditches the losers and loonies who seem bent on taking over the SSP.

Now, bearing in mind the Mirror's slant - vaguely left-of-Labour - and readership - working class - this is a telling line for them to be taking. It will no doubt be an interesting ride over the few months to Holyrood elections next May, and not just for the SSP: the Scottish Tories, it seems, are at each others' throats.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Revisionist defeatism: the worse, the better

Presumably deliberately provocative:

If it did lose the next election, Labour could return in 2013-15 with a ministerial team that boasted a rare combination of youth, talent, maturity and experience. Barring a revival of Trotskyist entryism in the Labour party or a cleverly engineered Conservative economic boom, I cannot see the Tories being an appealing alternative in the longer term. There is little sign of a new intellectual ferment of the sort that carried Margaret Thatcher to power.

A period in opposition, far from being a disaster, will be the final test of the durability of Blair's historic transformation. In the past, Labour, turfed out of office, would normally lose several consecutive elections; if it won, it was by the slenderest of margins, as in the 1970s. To fulfil Blair's ambition that it should become the natural governing party of this century, it needs to show that it can bounce back quickly from defeat, as the Tories always did in the 20th century, and as Sweden's social democrats still do.

Given that New Labour's justification for itself is that it won elections, I cannot see how - once it loses an election - it can survive. Surveying Blair's likely legacy - the sad demise of the NHS, the resurgent racism, the disappearance of critical civil liberties, a new generation of nuclear power stations, economic injustice on a grand scale, and Iraq - finding the few voters impressed by the wreckage will be a hard task.

More to the point - and I say this having earlier indicated the Tories' decreptitude - it may yet be wide of the mark to claim the Tories lack "intellectual ferment". Whilst David Cameron is little more than a TV gimmick, and whilst the Tories' current, apparent lead seems more driven by Labour defections to the Lib Dems than their own popularity, there is a certain buzz developing around, for example, the happy-face Thatcherites at the Policy Exchange, and the sour, sinister neoconservative claque Cameron surrounds himself with.

It's nothing like on the scale of the intellectual assualt that preceded Thatcher, and nor is it quite so obviously tied to the Conservative Party. It accepts latter-day Blairite positions (boo to terrorists, yay for cappuccino) in a way Thatcher never tolerated any form of Old Labourism. But the flickerings of a revival are there nontheless. Whether it can produce a popular Conservatism beyond the party's declining and elderly base is a moot point. When national party politics has become, under New Labour, little more than the orderly management of decline, strange things start to happen.

Coming over here

Back, after a considerble delay, partially extended by John Reid, who from reading your funny English press I now see is going to be the next Prime Minister.

Aside from all that, am mildly puzzled by sudden accelaration in UK economic growth coupled with sudden desire to deport Poles. There are few compelling reasons to think British capitalism's sudden up-turn in growth is anything other than the product of the EU's immense free gift of 600,000 trained workers. Leave aside the alleged effects of World Cup euphoria, strip out North Sea oil, and it is clear the boost has been provided by service sector output: precisely the sector where the physical location of labour matters the most. Sustained by historically cheap short-term borrowing, demand for services has propelled the UK economy forward once more.

But no matter. I see forthcoming Romanians and Bulgarians are evidently Bad People, and doubtless unable to integrate properly. Apparently rather like this:

Our borders are being overwhelmed by migration on an unprecedented scale. Many of these migrants are failing to integrate with their host communities. Some do not even bother learning the local language. Local services are struggling to cope with the influx. Worse still, the UK government seems to know little about the scale or impact of this migration.

(...incidentally, I think the neoliberal response to migration - a good example here - is also inadequate to the task. Not fit for purpose, even. That is for another post, however.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Another enormous delay, and then I'm away for another week. Posting resumes after that. The indefatigable Lenin continues to blog on Lebanon and the Middle East: if, for some reason, you're not reading the Tomb already, I recommend you vist it forthwith. Attendance on the demonstration this Saturday, meanwhile, is all but mandatory.