Book Review

Not by me, but by Harry Barnes, Labour ex-MP. He lays into Dawkins’ The God Delusion. On Three Score Years and Ten, he explains why he finds the book so disappointing

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Who’s Left? (or ‘Whose Left?’?)

Nick Cohen has just written a book. It’s a very good book with a lot of words in it. Well, I suppose that must be the case because it’s being knocked out at a much higher price than his older books.

Lots of people have a view about it, and some of them have even read it (and it seems that most of them are his mates who helped him by proof-reading it), I haven’t read it but that won’t stop me from having a strong opinion and ramming down your interweb pipe, like a good McMabawb.

I have read the bits that the Observer published as a teaser, and it was these, and thinking about Cohen et al, that prompted the McMabawb piece. Specifically when he talks about his growing up in a family where they carefully chose their oranges, lest they come from a ‘dodgy’ country like South Africa, Israel or the USA. Well, most working class people, even those on the ‘left’ had other things on their minds regarding oranges, like that apples were a darn sight cheaper for one.

The last few days has seen endless verbiage from the ‘Eustonistas’ and their enemies in the ‘still anti-war’ brigades, and I’m feeling very frustrated.

Frustrated because as much as the ‘muscular left’, (or ‘belligerati’, ‘decents’ or whatever) point out that they are right, they spend about 20 times as many words explaining why the SWP/Respect etc are wrong. The same is the true in reverse of course. In between, those of us who don’t live in a Manichaean white-v-black existence, are pointing out that both are wrong (and so getting attacked by everyone).

Meanwhile, some simple truths get ignored.

1) The ‘Left’ is not, and never has been, a homogenous group with the same views. If it was, it wouldn’t be in this stupid squabble in the first place.

2) Arguments like this are an open goal to the ‘Right’, who will not hesitate to use one or both sides to push their own agendas

3) Just because someone opposed the Iraq invasion to the point of going to a demo, does not mean that they ‘marched in support of a fascist regime’. Equally, just because someone opposes the actions of certain ‘insurgent’ groups in Iraq and shows some support for the UK and US servicemen placed in danger, does not make them a ‘fanatical neo-con imperialist’.

What’s wrong with all these people? They is mad, I tell you, mad.

And I see another comment on Cif with the words “Bliar” or “Islamofascist” I think I’ll scream.

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More from MMVC

Now that Steve from Make My Vote Count has read my article properly (and he admits that he didn’t read it properly the first time – I’d say perhaps in a half-arsed manner?), he has given a more robust response.

I do understand his points. I did put a further in, but it takes them a long time to get round to approving posted comments. It might appear tomorrow.

One part of his piece that I did think was a good idea was this:

Anyway, i’d rather have a system that flips yours on its head, where popular impact is felt at the stage of policy formulation and debate, with the public acting like an expanded legislature. This creates a better politics because politicians have better, or at least more informed, policy options to choose from. And the public can’t simply complain of having legislation thrust upon them from above, as fellow – arbitrarily chosen – citizens have had a role in formulating it. Such a system still manages to retain a clear line of command, where ultimate responsibility for decisions lies with (relatively) transparent, accessible and public individuals who are ultimately (and most importantly) accountable for their actions to the electorate.

Yes! A ‘citizens jury’ which can go through upcoming legislation and ask questions or suggest changes. Sounds fantastic. It’s supposed to be how policy is formed in the Labour Party (policy forum meetings for members discuss various options and they get passed on and debated by delegates before being presented to Conference).

Another CiF piece

I had another article published on CiF today. Now that the site is up, I can link to it: The law of Average Joes

Again, the title wasn’t mine (I prefer mine – “Let us all vote in parliament”), and the standfirst was added in.

As it went up while I was at work, I wasn’t able to respond to the comments until I got home, but that gave me the opportunity to produce a longer answer

I have also seen one response elsewhere www.makemyvotecount.org.uk – ‘average_joe/common ‘tator where I think they call me a potato. They definitely call the piece ‘half-arsed’. I spent ages on that, and they didn’t even read it properly as far as I can tell.

Fame, fortune, beer!

I didn’t think that they’d go for it, but I got an article published on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free pages (CiF).

They changed the title, and added a reasonable standfirst (that’s the preamble paragraph, which was news to me until quite recently). They took out the links I put in to pages about Joseph Chamberlain and George Lansbury in local government, but they didn’t fix my appalling clash of perspective the the fifth paragraph (which maybe no-one else will notice but is flashing in red lights to my eyes). The picture is the least awful one I could get, using a mobile phone camera in my front room.

Anyway – it’s low level fame. After being in the background of a NorthWestminster piece, and being interviewed for local TV down here, my media empire inexorably spreads to the national stage.

Mwah ha ha hahhh!

Right, as I have the day off and my mate Darren is about, I’m off to the pub.

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