Saturday, September 05, 2015

A Comment, Elevated to the Status of an Actual Post

So given the events of the last month, it's probably worth noting a jarring difference in the way that we deal with notional problems, and how we deal with actual real problems.

August is the silly season for press coverage and I think it certainly lived up to the billing, given it's mostly consisted of a rampant Jeremy Corbynzilla smashing through buildings and pissing radioactive whizz onto the nation's cornflakes.  

To reiterate: there's been a lot of focus on Jeremy Corbyn's long history of speaking to very unsavoury characters.  I think the debate about that is fine, generally - there's lots of room to criticise and ask questions of Corbyn for the various headbangers that he's hung about with in the past.

Most of his previous behaviour, I'm willing to put down to the old desire to speak at the opening of a can of lager tendency - basically, being happy to speak anywhere they'll have you - but that's not really a very good excuse.  Who knows, maybe Corbyn wants Hamas to run inner-city schools?  I have no idea, but I suspect not.

Still, it's fine to do the whole "Oh, we're not saying he's a racist, but questions must be asked" routine, to a certain extent. 

It is very notable though that while we've now had three weeks-worth of "asking questions" about Jeremy Corbyn's supposed insensitivity to racism, often in the most spectacularly overblown terms, the current government's policies on asylum and immigration are literally contributing to thousands of needless deaths.

That's to say, the government's deliberate decision to cut rescue operations in the Med is actually helping to immiserate and/or kill large numbers of men, women and children right now and in large part, this is the direct consequence of the dominant racist and spiteful bile in Parliament and the press over a period of around twenty years.  This is the product of years-worth of angry Question Time debates and Daily Mail front pages and office rammies.

Meanwhile, the actual, real-world effect of Corbyn's supposed racism-tolerance is that some racist nutters - people who were mainly racist nutters before the Labour election and will continue to be so afterwards - have sent some foul tweets to Hugo Rifkind and Stephen Pollard.

Let me point out here that while both of these situations are terrible, one is considerably more costly in terms of human lives, and that the general hatred of immigrants has grown with the complicity of mainstream politicians, commentators and members of the public in exactly the way that the anti-Corbyn camp claim to be very alarmed about.

Again, people absolutely shouldn't send racist tweets to journalists, or harbour racist conspiracy theories, or just generally be horrible racist shits. Fuck those people, I say, get 'em into the dock and let them face justice for their crimes.

But it's really, really obvious that as a nation, we've spent most of the month freaking out like idiots about the supposedly terrifying racism of a man that even his accusers don't claim is racist, while an actual humanitarian catastrophe has emerged directly out of the very mainstream of British politics.

And that reflects quite badly upon us all.


dsquared said...

The only thing I think you missed here is that specifically one of the ways in which the "electable" candidates for the labour leadership presented themselves as "electable" had been by doing a big deal about Listening To The Very Real Concerns Of The Electorate About Immigration. Trying not to address any of the horrible consequences of their horrible foreign policy is a very core part of the reasonable centrist philosophy.

flyingrodent said...

I'll +1 those sentiments.

I wonder if you can still buy a Labour Controls on Immigration mug? I suspect it'd make for an interesting conversation piece, in years to come.

Igor Belanov said...

I find the situation rather ironic whereby the 'domestic' critics of Corbyn state that politics is not a 'moral crusade' but a practical means of doing things, while the 'foreign policy' attacks on Corbyn allege that he is morally compromised and lacks principle for trying to find 'practical' solutions to some rather complicated issues.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, Igor. Blairite foreign policy does seem to be more about "heart" than "head", as typified by Blair rejecting advice about Iraq from a room full of Middle East experts by saying "But Saddam is evil". There is plenty of evidence that regime change is difficult to pull off, because creating the institutions of a new regime is inevitably a very long and complicated process; moralising about the evil of the old regime doesn't get you very far.