New Labour’s Stalinist attitudes

OK … those of us who opposed the Iraq war are used to having mud thrown at us: pro-Saddam, unholy alliance, SWP front group, and so on. Now, look which party proposes security laws which have no precedent, at least not in living memory, and to increase holding-without-trial times (the sort of treatment which led to the wrongful imprisonment of the Guildford Four and others). The same party, however, is not much more tolerant when it comes to internal politics either.

For example, in recent months we’ve heard of people having their memberships revoked, after years or decades of loyal service in some cases, for suggesting in a letter to a paper that people might not vote for whoever wears the red ribbon locally. In two separate incidents today, Labour activists have faced the attention of security and police for posing so-called security risks.

First up was Walter Wolfgang, an 82-year-old member of 57 years standing, who came to this country as a refugee from Nazi Germany in 1937, shouted “nonsense” as Jack Straw, foreign secretary, defended the government’s Iraq policy. The police used Terrorism Act powers to refuse him re-entry (reminds me of a Muslim lady being kicked off a train under Patriot Act powers during the Democratic convention). The man said later that “two toughies” came over to him and wanted to manhandle him from the conference.

The other victim was the MP for Grimsby, Austin Mitchell, whose photos of the event were deleted from his digital camera by a policeman who claimed that he did not know how to use the device. There’s more on this page about the Wolfgang incident and other complaints about heavy-handed security. An attempt to have Iraq even discussed at the conference was blocked - a fairly common phenomenon these days is party “conferences” not really being conferences, but mere shows in which critical motions are not discussed. Now, hecklers are treated as security risks. And this is the party the New Statesman told us, before this year’s election, not to give up on (by voting Respect or whoever) as it still had people like Robin Cook (!) and was still “our party”. People won’t think so for much longer if its leaders surround themselves with this kind of security.

And what is all this about Gordon Brown yet again “staking his claim” to be party leader - and, given that Blair is said not to intend to run for another term after the present one - Prime Minister? Again, it seems that he’s smarting over Blair reneging over the “deal” they struck back in 1994 or whenever, that Blair would be leader first and hand over to Brown after a couple of years. The problem is, where do the rest of us stand in all of this?

None of us were in on the deal Blair and Brown made; yet, it appears Brown thinks he has some God-given right to be leader of not only the Labour party, but also of this country. And there’s the obvious fact that someone who reeks of thwarted ambition is not best placed to be leader; our Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) told us expicitly that someone who desires such positions is unfit for them (someone remind me of the exact hadeeth, please). Perhaps the party will come to their senses and give this man with his ego, his resentment and his ambition a good slap-down, and let him go off to a sinecure in some UN subsidiary.

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