Against Wilful Stupidity

December 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm (anonymous, Lib Dems, Max Dunbar, students, Tory scum)

How amazing is Marko Attila Hoare. He’s even right about nine-grand tuition fees. His post is not just a takedown of the policy but an attack on anti-intellectualism in general: on a culture that equates stupidity with integrity, and intelligence and creativity with naivety and pretension. Read the whole thing.

As a child studying at Holland Park Comprehensive School in London in the 1980s, I naively believed that hard work and talent should be rewarded, and that a university education would be my reward for studying hard. I was one of those who actually worked at school and did my homework. And it wasn’t always easy, with classes constantly being disrupted by loudmouthed morons who despised education, viewed school as oppression and teachers as the enemy. They dossed around for five years and left school with minimal or no qualifications, after having made the learning experience as difficult as possible for the rest of us. So difficult was it to work in such an environment, that I found I could study more in one hour of poorly attended optional after-school maths class – where there was no noise and disruption – than in three hours of regular classes.

Welcome to England: the European nation that most despises schools, universities, teachers and students, and that most celebrates stupidity and vulgarity. As encapsulated in the moron’s refrain to the student  – ‘I’d rather have a degree from the university of life’. The subtext being that education corrupts and divorces students from the real world, and that there is a greater nobility in ignorance, prejudice and underachievement. The binge-drinking yobs and football hooligans are the ones with the real integrity, not the poncey students with their poncey books.

How, you may ask, did a nation that thinks like this produce some of the world’s greatest institutions of learning, including the world famous Cambridge and Oxford, but also excellent universities and colleges like Imperial College, York, the London School of Economics, Warwick and others ? In fact, it’s a question of two sides of the same coin. There was a traditional belief that university education should be the preserve of the privileged few, while the masses should have no access to it. Unjust as it was, this system did at least have the merit of producing treasures like Cambridge and Oxford. A more enlightened ruling class would have sought to preserve this treasure and maximise the chances of students from all social backgrounds of benefiting from it.

Instead, for the last twenty years or so, our politicians – both Labour and Conservative – seem to have been following an inverted form of Flaubert’s dictum, and to believe that the point of democracy is to lower the ruling class to the level of stupidity attained by the masses.

There are two strong points here.

1) Most people don’t mind funding public services that they may never or rarely need – for example, people are happy to fund the NHS through tax even though they may never get sick, to fund the police even though they may never be the victim of a crime, even to fund welfare though they may never be out of work. The same should apply for higher education.

2) If you consider yourself leftwing, the indulgence of philistinism is a bad move – even if it’s wrapped in prolier-than-thou rhetoric.

Also check out Marko’s report on a recent demo, and watch in disgust as he lifts the Daily Mail rock.

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Juxtaposed With You

December 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm (anonymous, Lib Dems, Max Dunbar, MPs, protest, students, Tory scum)

From the BBC, via Postculturalist

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Beyond the Blank Page: What is the point of Ed Miliband?

December 5, 2010 at 3:25 pm (anonymous, capitalist crisis, labour party, Max Dunbar, protest, Tory scum)

I was born into the progressive Guardianista middle class. My parents hid Vietnam draft dodgers in the seventies, waved CND placards in the eighties and became ardent Blairites in the nineties. The long dark night of the 1980s must have been harder for them because they knew they were in a minority. Thatcher won three decisive election victories and there were clearly people who loved Thatcher and thought that she was doing the right thing.

The National Government shares Thatcher’s monetarist approach and ideological thrust but not the political mandate. Cameron’s coalition was lashed together in four days and at the last minute when it became clear that he had failed to win an outright majority against a shattered, third-term administration led by a bumbling sociopath at a time of almost unprecedented crisis. The Conservative Party never hesitates to overthrow its leaders if they don’t deliver – that’s why it has been such a success in British politics – and Cameron’s inner circle went into coalition talks on a desperate mission to get him the premiership, at whatever cost. Cameron’s appeal to the Liberal Democrats was basically ‘Dear Nick. I have been locked in a small room with a revolver and a glass of Bell’s. Please prop up my government. I am begging you.’ An anonymous Tory told the Guardian that the priority was ‘Operation Save Dave’: ‘All that matters is getting David into No 10. Then we can work out what we need to do.’

People tend to underestimate Cameron – both his strengths and his ideological dark side – and you would hardly believe this desperation could exist in the relaxed and confident sharpshooter who leans on the dispatch box every midday Wednesday. The coalition government rests on a electoral sandcastle yet it acts as if its ministers were carried into Whitehall on the shoulders of cheering crowds. On the back of Cameron’s 36% vote share he is ploughing ahead with dramatic changes to education, the NHS, welfare, defence, policing, everything. (Contrast this with Tony Blair, who won a landslide in ’97 yet in his first term was cautious to the point of rupture.) Predictably, most of the changes are spending reductions. Everything is justified with the foul lie that there is no alternative to swift and deep cuts. The rest of us must repent for the sins of the elite, who like the Buchanans in the Great Gatsby, ‘smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.’

Labour’s response to all this has been to spend four months fucking around with a leadership contest, and now, apparently, we are going to spend more months fucking around with a policy review. In a big hyped speech Miliband announced ’22 policy inquiries’ and ‘the formation of a series of working groups, chaired by shadow cabinet ministers, intended to lay the ground for a new policy programme to take Labour into the next general election.’ Sorry, Ed, but do we really have time for all this shit? Have we really earned the luxury of the blank page?

Here’s what Uncle Eddie should be asking at PMQs. Do you think your approach to cutting the deficit is wise considering that Ireland destroyed itself by doing exactly the same thing in 2006? Why doesn’t your Chancellor, who has no experience of business, commerce or finance, listen to the serious economists who say his plans will end in disaster? In the light of research showing that you could avoid spending cuts by taxing the richest 1,000, do you think that it is fair to sacrifice the livelihoods and lives of millions of people because of mistakes made by your friends in the City? You insist that the working class and middle class should lose public services and quality of life. Why should they? What gives you the right to do this? Who do you think you are? How do you look in the mirror in the morning, and sleep at night?

Seven months into the National Government’s first term we are seeing riots, demonstrations and occupations. Consider that the real pain of Gideonomics won’t hit until January when the VAT hike comes in. Students breaking into CCHQ could then be the least of Cameron’s problems. We are seeing the dawn of a new, intelligent, creative force in political protest. On Friday in several different cities activists from UK Uncut chanted ‘We are the tax enforcement society’ as they closed flagship stores of revenue-dodging billionaire Philip Green. There has never been such acute awareness of the distribution of wealth and power. The debate is happening, but it’s not happening in Parliament.

Government strategy against Ed Miliband is the same as it was against Labour leaders of the 1980s, to link him with leftwing disorder or at least make him deny that there’s a link. Miliband knows this and by manouvreing around the charge he is making himself look ridiculous. On a recent student demo, Miliband said that ‘I said I was going to talk to them at some point, I was tempted to go out and talk to them.’ Why didn’t you? ‘I think I was doing something else at the time, actually.’ Cameron, a brilliant debater, capitalised on this at PMQs: ‘At least the Deputy Prime Minister can make up his mind whether to join a demo or not – the Leader of the Opposition cannot even decide whether to sit on the fence.’

Thing is, Miliband will gain nothing by distancing himself. You can’t appease the right. They are never satisfied. Miliband should go on the attack and throw his weight behind the protestors. These aren’t the sectarian bigots of the STWC. They are the ‘squeezed middle’ he keeps going on about. They are people with jobs and relationships and needs and aspirations. And in the end, they may not need him.

Update: Having said that

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Robin Hood tax: an idea whose time has come?

November 10, 2010 at 8:02 pm (anonymous, capitalism, capitalist crisis, Jim D)

Some unions, NGO’s and sections of the left are presently busy promoting the so-called “Robin Hood Tax” as an alternative to the Con-Dem cuts in  the UK and mainstream capitalist rersponses to the world economic crisis. It’s not a new idea, and traces its origins back to the 1970’s when  Nobel Laureate economist James Tobin  suggested a currency transaction tax , was originally defined as a tax on all spot conversions of one currency into another.

Tobin said:

“It would be an internationally agreed uniform tax, administered by each government over its own jurisdiction. Britain, for example, would be responsible for taxing all inter-currency transactions in Eurocurrency banks and brokers located in London, even when sterling was not involved. The tax proceeds could appropriately be paid into the IMF or World Bank. The tax would apply to all purchases of financial instruments denominated in another currency—from currency and coin to equity securities. It would have to apply, I think, to all payments in one currency for goods, services, and real assets sold by a resident of another currency area. I don’t intend to add even a small barrier to trade. But I see offhand no other way to prevent financial transactions disguised as trade.”[1]

I’m personally not entirely convinced that the “Robin Hood”/Tobin tax is the panacea some would have us believe. Doubts remain about its practicability and about how easy it would be to avoid. Tobin himself eventually rejected his own idea as unfeasible, though Joseph Stiglitz said in 2005, the tax is “much more feasible today” than a few decades ago, when Tobin recanted.[34]

And, of course, anything that makes the bankers pay even a tiny amount towards effects of the crisis has to be worth serious consideration.

The “Robin Hood” campaign has put out some rather good little videos, even if they’re produced by that plonker Richard Curtis:

NB: much of the above comes from Wikipedia’s informative (and as far as I can judge, accurate) entry on the Tobin Tax.

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Support Fairness at Work – Lobby Your MP Now!

October 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm (anonymous, Jim D, unions, workers)

 Campaign - Support the LLawful Industrial Action Bill

The Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill has been introduced in response to the raft of court cases brought against unions whose members had voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. John McDonnell MP has been drawn in the Private Members Bill ballot and is campaigning to repeal part of the anti-trade union laws which make it possible for employers to take trade unions to court to block strike action on minor technicalities.The current legislation puts a massive burden on trade unions and means trade union ballots are subject to far tighter regulations than general elections.The Bill will:

  • Ensure fairer industrial action balloting procedures
  • Prevent employers exploiting minor technical errors in ballots and notices in order to invalidate the whole ballot
  • Prevent the courts from overruling a democratic ballot merely on technical grounds.

The Bill is having its Second Reading in Parliament on the 22 October 2010 and in order for this to take place 100 MPs must be present in the Commons. Write to your MP now asking them to make sure they are there!

And please attend the demonstration and rally in support of the Bill on the 13th October

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Migration Watch starts an open debate about immigration…

October 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm (anonymous, immigration, Max Dunbar)

… by suing someone who disagrees with them.

The census figures should stimulate an open and honest debate about this highly sensitive issue

– Migration Watch, February 2003

It is time for a fundamental rethink on the back of an open and honest debate

 – Andrew Green, BBC, September 2005

Our clients cannot allow your remarks to go unchallenged. They require:

a) that you send an apology to Sir Andrew in the terms attached which may be published;

b) that you undertake never to repeat such allegations;

c) that you pay our clients legal costs in dealing with this matter.

Solicitor’s letter from Migration Watch to Sally Bercow, September 2010

Let’s hope this case exposes Andrew Green’s pressure group to a higher level of scrutiny than it has so far enjoyed.

Recommended: Richard Wilson, Philippe Legrain, Iain Dale, Jack of Kent

Update: The case appears to have been dropped

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State of the Race: Yes, It’s Ed Miligeddon!

September 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm (anonymous, elections, labour party, Max Dunbar, Tory scum)

Reasons why the Ed Miliband victory is not the disaster everyone says it is:

1) David and Ed are actually very similar in terms of policy. The media have exaggerated what differences there are to bring life into what has been a dull and protracted contest.

2) In any case, there is strong public support for redistributive and leftwing policies that the Westminister village doesn’t see.

Michael White brings a little perspective:

As I noted yesterday, [Ed] Miliband keeps protesting that ‘there’s nothing very leftwing’ about attacking investment bankers’ bonuses or the terms of the coalition’s timetable for deficit cuts – on which the coalition is likely to have to retreat, I suspect.

Opposing free schools? Many sensible people opposed them and Michael Gove’s claim that he would release huge pent-up demand has (so far) proved illusory. A graduate tax? Ditto, though I happen to think he’s got it wrong (so far).

Defence of universal benefits from bus passes to child benefit? Ditto again. A higher minimum wage and a high pay commission to address rising levels of inequality? Sounds good to me. More unequal societies tend to be unhappier ones.

Behind all this lies what Polly Toynbee rightly calls the imaginary ‘middle class’ routinely presented by the Mail, Telegraph and Express as earning much more than it does. Articles repeatedly suggest incomes and lifestyles far above what folk actually earn.

In real life, the median income is around £25,000, the median household income £36,000. In the mid-market Tory papers readers can often be forgiven for thinking it is at least double those figures.

It matters because it leads to an over-emphasis on, for instance, the 40% rate of income tax – which most people don’t pay. As Robin Cook once reminded his Today programme tormentor – John Humphreys, I suspect – that ‘more of your listeners are interested in the rate of benefits than in the top tax rate’.

Still, the Daily Mail gets to the heart of the matter: Ed Miliband is having sex with a woman to whom he is not married.

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Betrayal, Conspiracies, Sacrilege, Heresies

September 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm (anonymous, Catholicism, Max Dunbar, religion)

Just a couple of thoughts on the Pope visit:

1) The Catholic Church and fascism

There’s a piece by the smug, moon-faced idiot who edits CiF Belief, in which he attempts to close down debate while stampeding for the moral high ground. Contra Brown, it is entirely appropriate to raise the Church’s relationship with Nazism, because Pope Benedict gave a speech on it, in which he failed to acknowledge either the religious and spiritual aspects of the Third Reich or the role of his church in railroading war criminals to safety.

The speech itself reads like a CiF column. The fact is that, despite having the evidence, we atheists have lost the argument on this one. People will always believe that Nazism and Stalinism are atheist ideologies and atheist crimes. Sam Harris writes that ‘[t]he romantic thesis lurking here is that reason itself has a ‘shadow side’ and is therefore no place to turn for the safeguarding of human happiness.’ Against sentiment such evidence is useless. But it’s also worth repeating, whenever this lie is broadcast, Pascal Bruckner’s point that Nazism and communism were both overthrown by the secular, reason-based democracies of Enlightened Europe and America.

2) Celebrating the Geopolitical Epicentre of the Culture of Death

The visit kicked off with a comment from the Pope’s right hand man to the effect that multiculturalism had turned the UK into a third world country. Any American or European politician, making this Powellite slur on our country, would be condemned rightly as a racist. But Kasper’s words stirred no reaction from the pro-faith left, which will forgive and forget just about anything. Benedict’s Edinburgh speech was along the same lines with lots of pissing and moaning about multiculturalism, the marginalisation of faith, and the degenerate state of the UK. The British taxpayer is in the surreal position of paying to be insulted.

Recently there have been more and more clerics hectoring the nation about its deterioration into sexual permissiveness and metropolitan pretensions. Earlier in the month we had the archbishop of Westminster complaining that the passage of gay rights law had turned the UK into a ‘selfish, hedonistic wasteland’ and London into ‘the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death’. What’s worse is that his condemnation of liberal, cosmopolitan Britain is being listened to with sage nods and serious expressions because the rest of us also, by some tragic perversity, love to denigrate this aspect of contemporary life in the UK.

The point is that if you condemn the Vatican’s reactionary statements on this you also have to condemn the intellectuals and cultural commenters who refuse to stand up for the UK’s diverse and urban way of life. Hedonism, intoxication, irreverence and sexual freedom should be celebrated and valued, and in time they may have to be fought for.

Read Laurie Penny in the NS:

But why on earth shouldn’t we congratulate ourselves? We are one of the most tolerant cultures on the planet, taking a stand, in the midst of domestic turmoil, against global religious oppression. Can’t we feel just a little bit proud?

If it is anti-Catholic to believe that child-rape ought to be eliminated, that stopping the spread of AIDs in Africa trumps religious squeamishness about condom use, and that human happiness is more important than dogmatic adherence to cobweb-crusted notions of purity and morality, then I for one am proud to be part of the geopolitical culture of death.

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Pray For Us Sinners

August 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm (anonymous, bloggocks, Catholicism, child abuse, Max Dunbar, religion)

In his 2000 novel Boiling a Frog, the Scottish crime writer Christopher Brookmyre introduced a villainous PR man who tries to change an entire political culture. Professional spinner Ian Beadie’s exposes of the sex lives of celebrities and politicians aren’t selling any more in the liberal late nineties: trying to push a story about a gay environmentalist, Beadie is told by one editor that ‘It has no bearin’ on his job, Ian, or on this campaign… The suits upstairs are sayin’ this sort of thing is turning off the readers.’ To save his business, Beadie offers his service to the Catholic Church. He wants to make their brand of puritanism more influential so that people in the public eye who break sexual taboos will become big news again.

Asking a priest how many Catholics there are in Scotland, he gets the response: ‘You mean baptised, Catholic-educated, that sort of thing?… probably in the region of 700,000.’ Beadie replies: ‘There you are, then. That’s your figure. Well, actually, 700,000 – might as well say three quarters of a million. And if you’re saying three quarters of a million, might as well round it up to 800,000.’

Let’s recap. On September 16 Britain will receive a head of state who has overseen and facilitated an organisational culture of child rape, breaking several articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Not only will the new government welcome him with open arms, it’s also paying for his visit. At a time when the top government priority is to cut the £156 billion deficit, and when working class families are being hit hardest by slash-and-burn economic policies, we are spending £12 million on the papal visit at the very least. (The figure is dubious: police sources estimate security costs at around £70 million.)

It’s at this point that former Catholic Herald editor Peter Stanford complains in a leading national newspaper that Catholics face an ’assault on their spiritual leader’ and that ‘[t]o stand up publicly and be counted as a Catholic in Britain right now can be to invite a tirade’. Later he quotes the Catholic composer James MacMillan, who has described ’the current wave of anti-Catholicism as ‘the new antisemitism of the liberal intellectual’. To which Stanford adds: ‘why don’t other Catholics follow MacMillan’s example and speak up more often in their own defence?’ 

We’re used to Islamic bigots hurling the word ‘Islamophobia’ at their critics’ feet to deflect scrutiny from their own vicious ideas. Now the Christian right is playing the victimology game with planted stories about Christians who have supposedly been denied their freedom of religion. Most often these cases turn out to involve people who have abused the authority of public sector positions to evangelise, or bigots who have fallen foul of basic equality legislation. This kind of PR is effective, though. You can’t blame a sectarian for trying.

There’s an interesting point by Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Tablet:

If you developed an interest in British Catholicism by reading the various ‘Catholic’ blogs that have sprung up in recent years, you would conclude that we are in the midst of vicious cultural wars… But when you get to the parishes, nobody seems to be at anyone else’s throat. The idea that there is a crisis is mistaken, though the church should nevertheless be asking itself why there are so many lapsed Catholics.

This made me think of the disconnect between the splenetic ravings of Splintered Sunrise and the Torygraph Catholic bloggers, and the discussions I’ve had with reasonable and intelligent Catholics I’ve known. Similarly, Stanford notes the decline in church attendance, and the slow pace of tickets to September’s papal event among Catholic communities. He could have gone further and acknowledged the anger at the Vatican among many Catholics. Read this piece by a Catholic priest speaking out against Ratzinger:

The biggest protest which will take place in Scotland will be a half empty Bellahouston Park. 300 000 turned up in 1982. This time, 100 000 tickets have been distributed. At least 50 000 have been returned.

Ordinary, working class, educated, ‘aware’ Catholics are boycotting the event in their tens of thousands. (In one parish in Fife the priest put up two notices, one for the Papal Mass, one for the parish picnic. 129 names went up for the picnic, 6 for the Papal Mass.)

As the National Secular Society head Terry Sanderson explained:

We are told that there are a billion Catholics in the world. This may be true in the sense that a billion people have been baptised by Catholic priests. But how many of them actually want to live by the teachings of the present Vatican hierarchy?

Like everyone else – except it seems the old men in Rome – modern Catholics want to live in the modern world. They want to take account of scientific advances and knowledge. They love their church, but they don’t hate homosexuals. They like their priest, but they feel uncomfortable at the Vatican’s unrelenting opposition to contraception.

So, Protest the Pope is not anti-Catholic, it is anti-Pope – this pope.

But to acknowledge this would be to admit that Catholics are as angry about child rape as anyone else and that the accusations of anti-Catholic racism are no more than attempts to divert attention from what are very serious issues.

Stanford does find room for a quote from our old pal Joanna Bogle. ‘Yes, I write passionate things sometimes,’ she says. A trawl through the Bogle archives turns up some real classics. On the question of gay adoption: ’Golly, some readers of this blog are an odd lot. Some comments – which I have not published – have come in from people who seem to think we should emphatically do nothing to stop the Government forcing Catholic organisations to accept adoption of children by active homosexuals’. On civil partnerships: ’No Catholic can in good conscience take part in such a ceremony, and a Catholic in public life has the extra responsibility of giving scandal by celebrating the ‘gay lifestyle’, ie active homosexual lifestyle, in this way.’ Not even Bogle’s local library is safe from the gay menace:

Meanwhile, over in the educational section, a large stack of books on Islam and a smaller one of Christianity. Glossy illustrated book, thick with quotes from Hans Kung and Matthew Fox (no, I’m not inventing this, either), big chapter on homosexuality and lesbianism: ‘Reflection – I am a gay Christian….The Church’s teachings are, without doubt, hypocritical….’ section on ‘feminist theology’ and one on ‘liberation theology’, nothing whatever putting the ordinary Christian teaching and message. Some critical material on the Catholic faith and teachings but nothing simply stating facts. This rubbish is published by ‘Heinemann Educational’ and I suppose its’s used as propaganda in schools.

Now, if you get angrier by the thought of two men holding hands than by some men torturing a child, then you’ve got a right to your views, and to argue them in public. But I’m not ready to hear, from this nasty and raucous minority, that it’s those who want the Pope held to account who are on the side of bigotry and prejudice.


Bogle at her glorious best

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State of the Race: Burnham on Iraq

July 24, 2010 at 4:10 pm (anonymous, elections, iraq, labour party, Max Dunbar)

I like David Milliband but he’s a bit wonky, he makes me think of the ‘tiny head’ scene from The Thick of It, and that may not be what we need to win an election. Andy Burnham, however, comes across as a passionate and interested man, and the NS doesn’t seem to be able to handle him. When so many Labour leadership candidates fall over themselves to apologise for Iraq, and so much of the party has bought into the silo narrative, Burnham’s stance is refreshing.

You took a decision without having all the facts at your disposal.
On Iraq, I voted for it because the leader of the Iraqi Kurds pleaded with MPs to do that at a private meeting here before the war. I asked him outright: ‘Do you think weapons exist?’ And he said: ‘I don’t know, but our people will for ever be suppressed because we can’t be sure.’

And that was the problem with Saddam Hussein — to maintain his grip over his own people, he had to maintain the pretence that he had them. That’s why he had to frustrate [the UN weapons inspector Hans] Blix. He couldn’t let him finish his work, because the minute he finished his work and the world was told he didn’t have any weapons would have been the moment Saddam would have been drummed out of power. I believe there would have been a civil war, which would have been problematic in a different way. The root cause of all this was the failure to remove him at the end of the first Gulf war. And I think the world, because of that, was going to have to come back to the Iraq question.

You say that if Hans Blix’s inspection had run its course and he’d said, ‘Actually the WMDs don’t exist,’ there would have been a civil war, but that’s exactly how it ended up anyway.
It was certainly bloody and it was certainly ugly, there’s no getting away from that. The question is now: is Iraq in a better position than it was? Does it have hope of a better future than it did? Is there more order in the country than would otherwise have been the case? Does the government have more of a chance of making a success of itself in the medium to long term? The answer to those questions is: yes, it does, it has hope of rebuilding itself and not becoming a failed state. And that, for me, justifies the decision, hard as it was.

Is it easier to move on with someone who didn’t vote for the war?
I do feel there is a need to take the party beyond the damaging argument we’ve been through. I’m proposing that, as leader, I will set up a commission on military intervention in the party, in the wider Labour family and also drawing in representation from civic society, to look at Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Afghanistan. The central question is: what, where and under which circumstances should the Labour Party give its endorsement to military intervention? So, essentially, what it would be trying to do is develop a framework for intervention.

I sense you have a view on that already.
I’m not articulating a doctrine of intervention; it’s not a neocon view, it’s absolutely not that. It’s simply that I fear Labour could get it wrong, coming away from Iraq and saying: ‘Never again.’ If you look back at Kosovo and Sierra Leone, while the intervention in Iraq is much more contested and disputed, there are people in Kosovo and Sierra Leone who are, to this day, joyous that the Labour government took a moral lead. Labour cannot give up on that moral lead, which improves lives and upholds human rights. My worry would be, yes, we learned a lesson from Iraq and the [conclusion of the] Chilcot inquiry will be a sobering moment for Labour, but you can’t then [allow] the pendulum [to] swing right back and say: ‘We can never do that again. We’ve now become a country that doesn’t play its role on the world stage.’

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