There are two kinds of people in the United Kingdom. There are those who divide people into two kinds of people, and there are those who don’t. If you’re one of the former you can also divide people in the United Kingdom into two kinds, those who are allowed to level accusations of Nazi behaviour at members of the Labour party, and those who are not. It’s a bit like terrorism really. You’re only a terrorist if you have a brown skin or are of a left wing or independentist persuasion. If you’re white and have far right wing views – you know, an actual Nazi – then you’re not a terrorist, you’re just an extremist like the not-terrorist who shot up the family planning clinic in Colorado. It’s all part and parcel of the Great British Double Standards.
Great British double standards mean that if you’re a supporter of Scottish independence, you are most definitely not allowed to claim that Labour politicians are quislings, fascists, or gauleiters, because that makes you an evil cybernat and the papers will print articles for weeks demanding that Nicola Sturgeon comes round to your house to berate you personally on the doorstep while criticising your dress sense and your taste in curtains and insisting that you never vote in favour of independence ever again. This is because in the absence of a positive case for the Union, it’s only by casting Yes voters out into the utter darkness hiding behind closed poor taste curtains can the Unionist media ensure that there will be a majority for the Union the next time we have a referendum.
Remember when Unionist politicians were forever promising that the positive case for the Union would be along any minute? Ah the nostalgia. Now what passes for a positive case is Ian Murray finding new things to abstain on, Labour ganging up with the Tories to find new ways to screw over the Scottish Government, and the public presentation of Trident’s weapons of mass destruction as a job creation scheme. But I digress.
The only people who are allowed to call Labour politicians Nazis are other Unionist politicians. Then it’s perfectly OK and not bullying at all. This is because in the United Kingdom it only counts as bullying when the insult issues from the mouth of someone who doesn’t actually hold any position of power or influence, like when a granny with an internet connection in Fife tweets that a Labour politician is a quisling. Then it’s terrible bullying and abuse, and the Daily Mail will demand that Nicola Sturgeon pay a visit to Glenrothes to make a negative assessment of the state of the granny’s net curtains. The affrontment.
However if you hold an elected post, or put more accurately, an elected post or a position of responsibility for a Unionist party, people actually have to kill themselves before anyone is going to call you out for bullying or insulting behaviour. And even then it’s by no means guaranteed. The persons allegedly responsible for bullying the young Tory activist who killed himself had a boss in Grant Shapps who turned a blind eye to the multiple accusations made against them over the course of a lengthy period.
It took over two years for Grant Shapps to resign despite a mounting catalogue of shifty behaviour and multiple identities. He used the name Michael Green to flog a get rich quick scheme online, but the only person who was granted any benefit was Grant. He also went by the name Sebastian Fox, which sounds like the writer of cheap pulp novels, which is appropriate as Grant is a master of fiction. Then he invented a totally ficticious middle initial for himself, and went by the name Grant V Shapps. It’s not clear whether the V stood for vain, vacuous, vapid, vegetable, venal or vulgar. Personally my money is on venereal, which is descriptive of a sick wee knobend.
That said, it’s unfair to claim that the UK’s political establishment operates double standards as two sets of standards aren’t enough for them. Grant Shapps has at least three, one to go with each of the identities he created for himself. What we can be sure of however, is that if any one of Grant’s personalities had called Jeremy Corbyn a Nazi, he wouldn’t be called on to resign for it. This is precisely what a Labour MP did this week, and the person deemed to be in the wrong wasn’t the Labour MP, it was the guy who got called a Nazi.
John Spellar MP, formerly a minister of state under Tony Blair, claimed this week that Jeremy Corbyn was acting like a fuhrer for opposing British military action in Syria. It’s possibly the first time in the history of invective that someone has been called a fascist for not wanting to invade Poland. In the UK nowadays the dangerous people aren’t the ones who are ready to rush into carpeting far away countries with bombings and tracer bullets and drone strikes, they’re the ones who demand that all peaceful measures are exhausted before we go to war. John Spellar supported Tony Blair in his rush to bomb and blast, and that didn’t exactly end well, but it’s not John’s judgement which is questioned, it’s Jeremy’s. Great British bombs are better bombs it seems.
We’re asked to put our faith in the judgement of people who rush to make accusations of bullying and abuse, and then indulge in precisely the same behaviour themselves. We’re ask to trust the judgement of politicians who see warfare as a first option and not a last resort, and who campaign for war without any clear idea of how to create peace.
Spellar and another Blairite MP are calling on Jeremy to resign, because they don’t like the policies of the party that they belong to. You’d think that in a normal universe they should leave that party and go and find one which is more congenial to their politics, like for example the Tories. It’s not the politicians who are wrong, it’s the ordinary party members. It’s not the powerful who bully and abuse, it’s the powerless. It’s the peacemakers who are dangerous, not the warmongers. But we don’t live in a normal universe, we live with Great British double standards.
BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper and is being published by Vagabond Voices press, who also publish Jim Sillars. The dug is in exhalted company. None of the articles collected in this book have appeared on this blog.
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