Friday, March 24, 2006

Though cowards flinch & traitors sneer...

A week & a half which has prompted deeply felt, yet contradictory views about the Labour Party.
The BBC last week broadcast "The Plot Against Harold Wilson", a dramatised account of Harold Wilson's private discussions with two BBC journalists a matter of weeks after his sudden resignation in 1976. Those who openly accepted in interviews to their connivings against Wilson were both pathetic & menacing in a Home Counties sort of way; think Terry Thomas meets Victor Meldrew.
I have no doubt that there was talk in exalted circles throughout Wilson's years in Downing Street about the possibility of a military coup; fuelled by the Chilean coup against Allende in 1973, there was fevered planning which involved installing Mountbatten as an emergency leader, a "saviour" at Blighty's hour of need.
However, Wilson was a grave disappointment to Labour Party members as the years went on. Initially aligned with the Bevanite left, Wilson deftly garnered the left's support prior to becoming Labour leader, only to reveal his true colours after the 1964 election victory.
Despite the reversions of policy under Wilson, it is as nothing compared to the further shenannigans of Blair. Wilson was accused of granting favours to key allies, those in his inner circle. However, much of this was pretty tame stuff when one considers the Cash-ForPeerages affair. Jack Dromey, a hitherto assiduous New Labour clone, has lifted up a stone, revealing a grotesque picture. The knives are now out for Dromey, his former colleagues (I was tempted to use the word comrade for a moment) furiously briefing against him. His crime: shining a light on an aspect of Labour's finances which says everything about New Labour.

I used to be active with the Revolutionary left in the 80s. However, even within the Militant organisation, there was a mocking & dismissive attitude towards the WRP, a group whose journal was said to rely on heavy subventions from Libya. This claim was neither confirmed nor denied satisfactorily. However, it was one of several suspect features about Gerry Healey's vehicle for vanity (considering that Healey proclaimed his Trotskyite faith loudly & frequently, there was always a whiff of the Stalinist straitjacket about his leadership).
It all came back to me last weekend with this Observer interview with Vanessa Redgrave:,,1732336,00.html .
Redgrave emerges from the piece as part humourless zealot, part emotional diva.

Meanwhile, the retail giants are trying to hitch a ride on the back of the blogging bus:,,1734484,00.html .
Something tells me they'll miss that bus.

A plug for the Guardian's new blog, "Comment is free", which looks like an excellent example of how the media should embrace the blogosphere. It should serve as a case study in assuaging the anxieties of journalists who may be still blogosphobic, those, for instance, featuring in this article,,,1734486.html .

Correction: My post a few weeks' ago about Liverpool's Capital of Culture in 2008 gave the wrong website address for the Liverpool Culture Company. It is .

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