The left needs to learn
The title of this article may seem almost obligatory given the mistakes the left has made in this country in the past twenty five years. Indeed even a teenager who has read a copy of The Sun could trot out this cliche that ‘the left needs to learn’. However, with the country swinging towards the right it is more important than ever that the left recognises the gratuitous mistakes it has made in the past twenty five years. Specifically what it needs to learn about is freedom of speech, mistaking a bad decision to pal up to dictators and the lost art of winning votes which seems to have eluded the left like ordering a diet coke in McDonald’s to seem ‘healthy’.
On the first issue of the ability to speak without being coerced, many on the left seem to have a major problem with this idea. This first reared its ugly head when Mr Rushdie was threatened with death in a fatwa, issued by the boneheaded leader of Iran, the former Ayatollah Khomeini. Mr Rushdie’s crime was to write a novel, a novel which ignited thousands to protest it on the grounds that it was ‘offensive to their religion’. Books were being burnt in the centre of Bradford, Mr Rushdie had been placed into hiding for his own protection and some were killed for their connection with the novel. The left stayed silent, some even worse led some of the protests such as Keith Vaz. When Rushdie was going to be given a knighthood the topic appeared on Question Time and Shirley Williams argued that it was a ‘mistake, not very wise and not very clever’. Instead of defending free expression the left collectively pandered to thugs and criminals who wanted to silence something which they didn’t like.
This again happened when Maajid Nawaz tweeted a cartoon which then many found offensive and decided to try and derail his bid to become an MP, demanding the Liberal Democrats withdraw him as a candidate despite him being democratically elected to that position. Nick Clegg responded that while he wanted to defend freedom of speech, religious issues should be discussed sensitively. Once again instead of going on the attack and defending our hard fought rights to say as we wish and verbally going after the people who feel they have a right not to be offended, we kowtowed to the worst elements in our society. Maybe this is because the left finds it difficult to accept freedom of speech. This can be seen with UKIP and the rise of the new far right in British politics. It seems that the left, instead of defeating Farage in argument enjoys tearing down their posters, throwing eggs at Nigel Farage and creating a ruckus wherever he goes.
Not only has the left failed to adequately defend freedom of speech, but it has also befriended some of the most monstrous regimes that have existed in the international community. One example of this is the Stop the War coalition. Andrew Murray, the former head of Stop the War coalition, is a defender of North Korea and a member of the British Communist Party. Not only this but Mr Galloway was a big fan of the Stop the War coalition. A man who is a defender of Mr Assad, a man who went to Syria in 2005 and told the Syrian people they were lucky to have Assad. The man who also has a fondness for the Iranian regime particularly the former president Mr Ahmadinejad. When Mr Galloway interviewed Ahmadinejad he bragged that he needed police protection because of his support for his re-election campaign. It seems the left couldn’t put up a campaign against the intervention in Iraq without a coalition of people who argue for dictators who while are not as bad as Saddam was, are pretty appalling themselves.
The left with these truly toxic themes running through it has become an open sewer from which few can tread without wanting to throw up. There is a reason why the left has lost its base support and these are merely some of the reasons why. It now often relies upon demagogues such as Galloway who can fool an electorate once but rarely twice, and until the left addresses these base issues it cannot possibly hope for a recovery to any kind of serious power.