Thursday, August 10, 2006

John Reid: The cloven hoof pops out

Before it gets lost in the excitement surrounding today's events it is worth taking a look at John Reid's speech from yesterday.

The Guardian reported his comments on the struggle against terrorism:

The majority of the public understood its seriousness but there were those who "just don't get it", whose opposition was undermining the struggle. They included:

  • Politicians who opposed the anti-terror measures the police and security services said were necessary to combat the threat.
  • European judges who passed the "Chahal judgment" that prohibited the home secretary from weighing the security of millions of British people if a suspected terrorist remained in the UK against the risk he faced if deported back to his own country.
  • The media commentators who "apparently give more prominence to the views of Islamist terrorists rather than democratically elected Muslim politicians like premier Maliki of Iraq or President Karzai of Afghanstan".
So the problems we face are the existence of politicians who disagree with the government, an independent judiciary and a free press. In short, the central institutions of a liberal democracy.

Faced with this it is hard to forget that John Reid received his political education in the Communist Party of Great Britain in the early 1970s. That is after Hungary, after Czechoslovakia, after all but the most deluded had seen through the nature of the Soviet system.

It is usual, while observing that many central figures in New Labour came from the hard left, to remark that they left all their ideological baggage behind, retaining only their talent for organisation and belief in party discipline.

Yet reading the report of Reid's speech, the marxist echoes sound clearly:
The home secretary yesterday gave the thinktank Demos his strongest hint yet that a new round of anti-terror legislation is on the way this autumn by warning that traditional civil liberty arguments were not so much wrong as just made for another age.
This sounds so like a marxist patronising a liberal: Yes, elections and a free press and all that were imporant in their day, but time has moved on. It used to be poverty and the crisis of world capitalism that demanded we give up our freedoms. Today it is global terrorism.

Whatever the supposed enemy, the conclusion is the same: Socialists hate freedom.


agentmancuso said...

The former communists may have left all their economic ideological baggage behind, but otherwise they haven't changed a bit.

Gavin Whenman said...

"Socialists hate freedom"

They believe that institutions take preference over individuals.

Alex Wilcock said...

Superb post.

Though I'm still not quite sure if the title is riffing on Dennis Wheatley, or on Will Hay.

Jonathan Calder said...

It's based on Bertie Wooster on aunts:

"It is no use telling me that there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof."

Anonymous said...

Funny how Reid made this speech, saying we face the most sustained threat since world war II, knowing that he'd be "proved right" the next day.

All in the cause of drumming up support for new anti-terror legislation, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Humanity has been here before...
'Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.
And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so.

How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.'

Phil said...

You were going nicely until the last line (a disgruntled libertarian socialist writes). Leninists hate freedom, that I'll grant you - and Reid is one of many demonstrations of how alarmingly easy it is to keep the Leninist style while abandoning the radical goals. You could see Leninism as a subset of managerialism, which is seldom liberal and never democratic.