1990s >> 1991 >> no-1048-december-1991

Sting in the Tail: Let’s Get Swamped

Let’s Get Swamped

Peter Kellner in The Independent (1 November) wrote about what a wonderful man John Major is.

John Major is leading the Conservative Party towards a social revolution . . . neither his friends nor his critics have acknowledged the magnitude of his project.

What excited Mr Kellner was Major’s appearance at the Windsor Fellowship (now there is a revolutionary name). This is an organisation that “helps black undergraduates who want professional or management careers in industry.”

Along with Mr Major’s meeting with Sir Ian McKellen, where he discussed “the demands of Stonewall, the homosexual pressure group that Sir Ian helped to form”, this has led Kellner into the silly notion that Mr Major is somehow different from Mrs Thatcher.
Mrs Thatcher, he reminds us, had said in 1978 on TV that there was fear that Britain could be “swamped”by “immigrants”.

In the Queen’s speech written by Mr Major and his advisers there is very little to suggest that Major and Thatcher are so different.

Did Mr Major propose that Clause 28 which he supported be withdrawn? No. Did he make some momentous move to change Britain’s official racialist policies on immigration? No. He had the Queen, the highest paid ventriloquist’s doll in the world, mouthing about how the government intended to stop the £50 legal aid for immigrants protesting against deportation.

Hypocrisy and cant we are used to: but let’s make it known that we are socialists — we want to be swamped. Welcome fellow workers, irrespective of your sexual proclivities, the colour of your skin, or anything so bloody stupid. We are workers, let us unite against the Thatchers, Majors and Kinnocks of this world!

Loyal and True

There is an oft-repeated piece of conventional wisdom that has it that the Tory Party’s great strength lies in its loyalty to the leader.

Mr Kenneth Clarke
on TV-am’s Frost on Sunday (3 November) when asked about his attitude towards former leader Margaret Thatcher said he held her “In fairly reverential respect . . . She was the boss.”

However when pressed to answer the point that after the first ballot he had told her to her face that he would resign from the cabinet if she stood for the second ballot he replied “Well I didn’t quite do that.”

Ah, touching loyalty? Well, not quite. The oily Mr Clarke later revealed “I told others, whom I’m sure told her, I would resign.”

Poverty of Thought

The sterility of bourgeois thinking was well illustrated by Geoffrey Wheatcroft when writing in the Sunday Telegraph (27 October).

It is easy to make fun of the way the poverty lobby continually redefines its terms, so that the poor . . .  are those without colour television, washing machines or regular holidays.

For Wheatcroft everything is fixed in time and is not to be redefined despite social change. Being “poor” today is what it was 100 years ago — living in a hovel, being half starved and clothed in rags.

But poverty, like everything else, is relative. For example, during World War Two the immensely rich Aga Khan was trapped in Switzerland and had to live on “only” £40,000 a year. This was an enormous sum in those days and 200 times the income of most British workers, but the Aga Khan considered he was living in poverty.

Today society can produce much more wealth than it could 100 years ago and people’s perception of what are luxuries has changed. Not to have colour TV, a washing machine, etc., when these can be provided in abundance is indeed to be “poor”.

Wheatcroft may laugh at the poverty lobby but they can at least understand what is obviously beyond him.

It’s a Jungle

“How the lion roared with pride” was a headline in The Guardian (4 November). Of course this swell-headed feline was the English Lion, but why should the lion represent England? It isn’t native to these shores so wouldn’t a Yorkshire Terrier or a Dover Sole be more appropriate?

The fact is that powerful nations which grabbed Empires through conquest often adopted ferocious animals as the symbol of their power. For example, Germany, Austro-Hungary and Tsarist Russia all chose the Eagle. It would have been less awe-inspiring if they or Imperial England had chosen the Duck or Badger although both are native to all these countries.

But what was that headline all about anyway? Only that a Lion had been duffed-up by a Wallaby, or, put another way, that England’s Rugby team had lost the World Cup Final against Australia. Doubtless, every English patriot is as sick as a parrot.

Classroom Struggle

Settle down, class. In this current affairs period we will discuss why some European left-wing parties are gaining support while others are losing it.

Can anyone name any countries where the left-wing are doing well? Obviously Britain, Germany, Denmark. Good, but where are they doing badly? France, Spain, Austria, fine, that’s enough.

Right, but how do we explain these contrasting fortunes? You at the back, yes, you with your nose buried in that paper. Let’s hear from you. Hmm, so you say that the left-wing are unpopular in France, Spain and Austria because they are in government there and any party which administers capitalism must inevitably lose support. I’ve heard that before, somewhere.

Well, that’s a debatable viewpoint, but now tell the class why the left-wing are so popular in Britain, Germany and Denmark where they are seeking government The political experts put it down to “the swing of the pendulum”, what’s your view? You put it down to voters having short memories . . . what IS that paper you were reading? The Socialist Standard? I should have known!

They Never Learn

After decades of boring-from-within the Labour Party, Militant has been forced to abandon “entryism” and openly come out as a separate organisation.

Dishonest to the end, they say: We are not setting up as a fully-fledged party because that would be counter-posed to Labour. (The Guardian 2 November). This despite the fact that they intend to put up parliamentary and local government candidates against Labour!

This move must be a bitter pill for Militant to swallow. They really believed that they could take over the Labour Party. And remember all those years spent lecturing other equally futile left-wing groups for being outside Labour’s ranks? Now they join them and all their wordy justifications (47 pages long) for what they present as a tactical withdrawal are only camouflage for what is a headlong retreat.

Has Militant learned the folly of “entryism”? Not one bit and they have broadcast their intention of sneaking back into the Labour Party when they think the coast is clear. What a hope and what a policy!

Labour of Sisyphus

Recently we read another politician telling us that “politics is the art of the possible”.

But all politicians are committed to running the affairs of capitalism, a system which by its very nature generates military and trade wars between nations, produces such massive poverty and insecurity that racial, national and religious hatreds inevitably occur, causes pollution of the earth through the drive for profit, etc., etc.

And yet the politicians are the ones who are endlessly engaged in the hopeless task of trying to reform away the problems which capitalism itself creates!

The art of the possible? A more accurate definition of their activities would be that “politics is the pursuit of the impossible”.