Denis Macshane cries wolf...
Denis MacShane MP for Rotheram and a former Foreign Office minister has compared George Galloway to infamous British Nazi sympathiser Lord Haw Law. Galloway apparently "employs very expensive libel lawyers to stop any press investigation into his role as Lord Haw-Haw for one of the worst tyrants in the world's history" - Saddam Hussain. Macshane called for a joint committee of the Commons and the US Congress to investigate the claims against him.
Leave aside the fact that the recent smears against Galloway coincide rather too conveniently with the fact that the number of US troops dead in Iraq has now reached 2,000. Leave aside Galloway's record of opposition to Saddam Hussain. Even leave aside previous New Labour comparisons of Galloway to British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley during the General Election campaign - because, er, he had a moustache and was a former Labour MP...
No, what interests me is the way that Denis Macshane seems unable to comment on anything without bringing up Nazis and Fascists. After the appalling Al Qaida bombings in Madrid, Macshane
argued that 'the time has come to unite against terrorism - the new fascism of the 21st century'. Of course, 'uniting against terrorism' meant supporting Bush and Blair's disasterous wars on Afghanistan and Iraq - something Macshane has been to the fore in doing. The notion that the reason Spain might have got bombed was less to do with fascism and more to do with then President Aznar's warmongering escaped Macshane.
To recap then - in Macshane's world - Saddam Hussain is now Adolf Hitler and Al Qaida are fascists - and we all need to unite behind Bush and Blair because they are fighting fascism. Anyone who doesn't agree - like George Galloway - is therefore 'objectively pro-fascist' and can be smeared accordingly.
Macshane's hatred of Galloway stems back at least as far as the General Election in May this year - which saw Respect make its breakthrough onto the political landscape. Respect's success in Britain was part of the birth of a new Left in Europe. Yet for Macshane, this New Left, as he put it in an article for the New Statesman in June, was not a healthy development. Indeed, the rejection of the neo-liberalism seen in recent Euro referendums in France and Holland means - you guessed it - 'we may be witnessing the slow "Weimar-isation" of Europe, a slide back towards the fatal interwar years when fascism was given its opportunity.'
'In France today, an alliance of populists and protectionists has just shattered the Socialist Party of Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Delors. In Germany, the former Social Democratic leader Oskar Lafontaine has formed a breakaway group in a clear echo of the disastrous splits in the 1920s. In Italy, too, the left is hopelessly at odds with itself, with Francesco Rutelli's Margherita (Daisy Party) refusing to submit to the renamed Partito dei Comunisti Italiani in the Ulivo coalition, and the Rifondazione Comunista denouncing its erstwhile comrades as reformists...The European left today is as incoherent as it was during the Weimar years...unless the democratic left starts to think and act together, it risks ushering in a long period of right-wing domination, ugly nationalism and the disintegration of the EU - a new Weimar Europe.'
Yet where did this New Left come from? A decade ago, weren't most people happy to see the election of Labour and Social Democratic parties across the heartland of Europe after years of Conservative Governments? The New Left did not come out of the blue - it was born out of the failures of those traditional social democratic parties in power to represent the interests of the labour movement against the steady rise of corporate power ('Globalisation') - coupled with most of those Governments craven support for Bush's 'war on terror'. In short they were born out of the massive anti-war and anti-capitalist movements of the last few years.
However, social democratic betrayals do not automatically lead people to look to the Left and socialist ideas. Indeed those Governments relentless attack on the rights of asylum ('Fortress Europe')and demonisation of Muslims has boosted racism. In Britain, for example, New Labour's betrayal of millions of working class people that has created a political vacuum that has allowed the real British Nazi Party to start to have the confidence to think about taking to the streets again for the first time in a decade. Given the menace of real fascists in our midst - for Macshane to start comparing others on the Left to Nazis is surely the thing that threatens to split 'left unity' against fascism? It is as irresponsible as his attacks on the British Muslim community after the July 7th bombings - where he criticised Muslim leaders for failing to condemn terrorism enough, as if they had done little else since September 11th.
Lets all unite against [real] fascism in Britain in November, but then work to give people a real decent alternative to New Labour's war-mongering and profit-mongering to vote for in the local council elections next May. Macshane will doubtless carry on crying wolf - comparing George Galloway and Muslims - and anyone else he doesn't like - to fascists - but I doubt if many people will continue to listen.
Edited to add SW article on 'Coleman-balls' v. Galloway.