I dunno. I find the back-from-hols col a bit more objectionable than my oppo RK, on both journalistic and political grounds.
In the first place, it apparently took all of three columns before the No Longer Bearded Wonder got back on the subject of the Socialist Worker’s Party. I think Kipling said it best:
[…]There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.
If Kipling were alive today, he would no doubt add a fifth certainty to the list; as the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire, David Aaronovitch’s column will return to the subject of obscure far-left grouplets of the 1970s.
It’s all about the bloody grouplets with Decent Dave. I don’t know why – presumably it has something to do with a) his CP past and b) the fact that he reads a lot of blogs – and presumably the second of these is more important this week, as having just returned from holiday, the temptation to take it easy and let someone else come up with a theme must have been overwhelming. But does it really make sense in the new environment? There is perhaps some point in sounding off about grouplets to the readers of the Guardian, some of whom might possibly know somebody who’s in one. But to the people who take the Times, the Socialist Worker’s Party exists only as somewhere between a phantasm and a punchline; it’s a bloke in faded denim flogging newspapers outside a pub in a Not The Nine O’Clock News sketch from 1984. A single item about grouplets might be interesting to the Times readers as a “dog drinks beer” item, but they ought to be aware that if Aaro’s previous form is anything to go by, this week’s one is the front end of a long and not very interesting train.
The other reason I don’t like this col is that, like Israel itself, the Socialist Worker’s Party is an intrinsically rather unlikeable regime that becomes worthy of solidarity because of the calibre of creep that always singles it out above all other candidates for loud and public denunciation.
It is, of course, All About That Bloody War; if Gilad Atzmon were here, we could get him to play the official theme-toon of Aaronovitch Watch, “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. The reason why Aaro has such a scunner against the SWP (apart from the fact that they presumably spilt his pint in the 1980s, of course) is that they were the organising force behind the Stop The War Coalition and the Hyde Park March. Ever since that march, Aaro has been absolutely disgusted, no really, very disappointed indeed in us, the bien-pensant centre-left British public. YOU MARCHED SIDE BY SIDE WITH TROTS YOU WANKERS! DAMN IT DON’T YOU REALISE WHAT THESE PEOPLE REALLY WANT?! THERE’LL BE NO BLOODY BRUSCHETTA FOR YOU LOT WHEN THE SWP ARE RUNNING THE COUNTRY YOU KNOW!
The fact has been, rather transparently, that to within a rounding error, nobody either knew or cared that the Hyde Park march was organised by the STWC or that the STWC was a front for the SWP. And this despite Dave telling us, week after week; have we no gratitude? Are we paying attention? Nope.
But Decent Dave still thinks that there’s some mileage in this advertising campaign, not least because a similar one waged against ANSWER in the USA had decent success in scaring mainstream Democrats out of organised opposition to the War. The idea is simple; if you’re against Tony then you’re against his pet war. If you’re against the war, then you’re side by side with the SWP. And if you’re in bed with the SWP then you’re an anti-Semite. You horrible person! Racist! Why don’t you be nicer, join the decent left and help us demonstrate solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world by killing them? George Galloway has a suntan!
So in other words, context matters in this one. If it were just some random Charlie having a go at the SWP for inviting the thinking anti-imperialist’s David Icke to have them sweating to the oldies at the annual hop, then so much good knockabout fun. But the fact that it’s Aaro on the case means that we should be very suspicious. When he’s throwing mud at the SWP, he’s doing so in the hope that it will stick to the entire anti-war movement. The Gods of the Copybook Headings say:
“Keep A Close Eye On That One”
Update Justin Raimondo is not best pleased. I would not be true to myself if I said that I didn’t from time to time find antiwar.com a little bit on the loony side for my taste, but I think that this rather underlines my point; Aaronovitch’s purpose in having a go at the SWP is to smear a whole swathe of antiwar opinion by association.