Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Non-Homogenous Left And Why I Deleted A Tweet

I had a tweet which got retweeted a fair bit yesterday. And so I deleted it.

The problem is that it was clearly one of two - but no-one retweeted the second one, and the retweeting of the first meant it was out of context and made it seem that I was holding an opinion I didn't.

The past few days have seen the Daily Mail launch a vitrolic set of articles about Ralph Miliband, as a way of attacking his son Ted, the leader of the Labour party.

One thing which strikes me is a justification that comes from some (and that is the important word here) of those on the right, namely this:

But "the Left" danced on Margaret Thatcher's grave.

There is a "basic human being" test. And yes, some of "the Left" failed it by a long way when Thatcher died. But that is not a justification or excuse for descending to that level.

And the question is not whether "the Left" danced on her grave, but whether Ted did. And having known him at college, I can say he is a decent and honourable man. In no statements following her death was he nasty towards or about her. He is only responsible for what he says and does.

To condemn him for something in Socialist Worker is out-of-line. Ted is not the editor of it, he is not a contributor to it. The Socialist Workers' Party is not affiliated to Labour - its politics are those of Militant Tendency, which former Labour leader Neil Kinnock fought to get out of his party. Ted is not responsible for its views - in the same way as Prime Minister David Cameron is not responsible for editorials in the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail.

As for condemning him for not rebuking George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford West - I mean, come on! Galloway left Labour nearly a decade ago. That makes as much sense as condemining Cameron for not rebuking a Democratic Unionist Party councillor for something they say.

But The Guardian smeared Cameron's dad.

Indeed they did. Two wrongs don't make a right. And again, Ted never wrote that article.

Both these attempts at justifying the Daily Mail's actions make a simple assumption - there is a mass of people out there, called "the Left", who think the same and are responsible for each others' views and actions. We see this when the Daily Mail drags Josef Stalin's gulags into it - although surely, given their obessions, their biggest problem with Stalin would have been that his wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, didn't lose her baby bump fast enough.

So we see what people like Eric Hobsbawm thought - and you know what, Hobsbawm and Miliband were not the same person. Yes, Hobsbawm might have been a supporter of Stalin, but Miliband was a critic, so why use Hobsbawm's views as a stick to beat Miliband - and by extension, his son - with?

Because "the Left" are a homogenous group. Just as there are those who take what a liberal vicar says to be the "official Church of England policy" and assume all Anglicans believe that, there are those who look for what anyone influential on "the Left" say, and take that as what everyone on "the Left" thinks. It is so juvenile.

And before you fall into the tedious argument of some who have commented on the Daily Mail website - the comments assuming that those critical were paid by Labour Party HQ (oh, puh-lease. Spare us the "who paid you?" line whenever anyone disagrees with you) - let me ask this. Do you think Labour paid John Moore, of all people, to defend Miliband?

So, what had I said and why did I delete it? The first tweet acknowledged that The Guardian smeared Cameron's dad and that there were those on "the Left" who celebrated Thatcher's death. The second tweet stated that these do not - repeat do not - justify the Daily Mail's disgusting smear on Miliband.

Sadly, the first got retweeted and made it appear I was taking the "well 'the Left' does it" line, when I was taking the opposite stance.

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