The old is dying, the new is struggling to be born…
Thugs will not silence me
Many of you will have read about an unpleasant and, at the time, distressing experience I had at the University of Aberdeen earlier this week, which was widely reported in the national news. Someone, who claimed responsibility on Twitter, calling themselves “trans” and an “anarchist”, led a five person attack on me as I began my speech, with no intervention from university security, and threw a then unknown substance into my face from point blank range. We had warned the university of a planned protest, which we suspected would be violent, and provided them with the names and faces of the expected aggressors – who did in fact turn out to be the aggressors – yet nothing was done to prevent it.
As someone who has recently been violently attacked a number of times in public, including in broad daylight, this was alarming. I continued as normal, while my pregnant wife bravely tried to detain and then chased after the attackers.
I raise this point not only to express my criticisms of the University of Aberdeen – which has still not replied to me – but because it is symptomatic of a wider problem on the “left”, or at least of many who self-identify as left-wing, even revolutionary (though they are anything but). Few weeks go by when the “identity politics” crowd don’t strike one campus or another, with their “no platform” demands, often employing physical violence. Other recent targets of their rage include Germaine Greer, the world’s most famous feminist, and Peter Tatchell, the world’s most famous gay rights activist.
I would like to clarify that while Peter Tatchell and I profoundly oppose each other on many political issues, and I hold no candle for him and he none for me, he is someone, like myself, who has travelled around the world and put his life on the line, literally, for his cause. Yet now we both face cowardly intimidation, threats and “no platform” demands from tiny, insignificant groups with ultra-radical sounding language, who have never lifted a finger for the causes they claim to support, and cannot point to any meaningful achievements in aid of those they claim to defend.
I was not silenced or intimidated by Blair, New Labour and the right wing media during the Iraq war who did all they could to destroy my career and reputation, I’ve never been silenced by daily abuse from Zionists, racists and terrorist sympathisers, nor by death threats, kidnapping or physical assault by all of these groups. So if the Aberdeen “United Student Left” think they are going to silence me, they had better think again, and I hope more and more people will find the courage to stand up to them and their ilk.
The Return of the Blair Rich Project
The return of the aforementioned war criminal Tony Blair to front line politics – but not to the front line of politics, an important distinction – with the aim of preventing what he sees as the “catastrophe” of Brexit, simply proves that our governing elite, like the Bourbons, learns nothing and forgets nothing. Just today it was reported in the media that a number of his former henchmen/propagandists, including Lord Mandelson, Alaistar Campbell and John Sawyer (former head of MI6) met in an exclusive London location – no prizes for guessing what they were talking about.
It does not take too much reading between the lines to see what Blair promises to oversee, albeit as puppet master in the shadows rather than messianic deceiver-in-chief as he once was: a pro-EU, centrist, socially liberal, economically neoliberal, and undoubtedly “interventionist” on the world stage, bloc of Lib Dems, “New” Labour and “Cameronite” Tories.
While such a formation would be bitterly opposed by tens of millions of people, I believe the majority of the population, there is no doubt it does have an appeal to some. It would have the support of the media, the establishment and finance capital, and as its social base could appeal to many relatively wealthy, urban professionals, who benefit economically and socially from globalisation and see the national state as little more than an anachronism, an inconvenience.
However, just like Remain itself, just like Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, just like Nicholas Sarkozy’s bid to be Republican Presidential nominee in France, I believe such a bid is doomed, that it is swimming against the current of history. People know establishment has destroyed their jobs, gutted their communities, ruined their lives, that it sees them as stupid, their views irrelevant.
People are ready to try alternatives, even if they may be volatile and unstable. I do not believe the majority are “ignorant” or easily deceived as the liberal media would have us believe; rather I believe most voting for change know full well that the alternative to the prevailing orthodoxy, to the ruling elite, may not be better, in fact could be worse, than what they have currently, but crucially, that it could be better.
They know on the other hand that if they keep voting for the same people who have been dismantling everything they hold dear for decades, and profiting from it, who do not even bother to promise a change of direction, then things can only continue to get worse – and they are already at breaking point, so this is simply not an option. Therefore, it is axiomatic in such a situation, that people will vote for whoever is the option promising to disrupt the status quo with the greatest chance of winning.
So I say this with confidence: If the establishment needs Tony Blair to save it, if second referendum campaign need him, they are done for. The best thing Blair can do to ensure Brexit is to identify himself publicly with the campaign to oppose it. I say bring it on, and for my part, I like many others will not rest until I see him in court for war crimes.
A French turn up for the books
To paraphrase the much misunderstood and misrepresented – not least by his own advocates – Italian communist Antonio Gramsci; the old world is dying, but the new world is struggling to be born.
Nicolas Sarkozy crashed out in a well-deserved ignominious end to his presidential aspirations and, surely, his political career, after coming third in the Republic Party primaries behind Alain Juppe and the until then little knowns Francois Fillon.
Monsieur Fillon is, at least to my world-view, a walking paradox: economically and socially a Thatcherite and Anglophile, he would appear to be opposed to me in almost every sense. Yet on many of the big issues of the day – the need to restore relations with Russia, to pull back from the mad drive for regime change in Syria and support for throat-cutting, head-chopping, heart eating terrorists, and end to NATO expansionism – I am in full agreement with him. And, he could be the best hope of halting the rise of the fascist Front National.
On the other hand, centre-left candidate Francois Hollande will run on a platform of conintinued aggression towards Russia, NATO expansion, support for terrorists. So what do left and right mean today? We are witnessing an era in which, to quote John Prescott – not something I do very often – the tectonic plates are shifting. The kaleidoscope is in flux.
Which brings me back the point in my opening paragraph. Things right now could go either way. The rise of the right in France shows that a revolution does not always make things better, and could in fact make things a lot worse, as would be the case if, God forbid, the Front National were to lead the next government.
However, and I now refer to the situation across “the west” and not just to France, as Jeremy Corbyn’s two victories in the past Labour leadership elections show, and as the rise and resilience of Bernie Sanders and the movement behind him continues to offer hope for in the US, the left can also emerge as an alternative to the status quo in these circumstances. However, in order to do so, it must be absolutely clear that, on the one hand, we defend everyone’s right to be proud of and defend multiple identities – ethnic, national, religious, sexual, gender – yet at the same time, our loyalty is to the working class, this is the bedrock of our movement, this is what we come out of and this is who we represent.
This is the fundamental dividing line for society and the fundamental basis of any left-wing mass movement with a hope of winning and exercising power effectively. And we must not only understand, but implement and emphasise this principle as a matter of urgency, because now more than ever, it is now or never.