The west is dead, long live the west!

by Jonathan Todd

“The ground under the German town of Erftstadt is torn apart like tissue paper by flood waters; Lytton in British Columbia is burned from the map just a day after setting a freakishly high temperature record; cars float like dead fish through the streets-turned-canals in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou.

“The most terrible thing,” according to a Leader in The Economist a month ago, “about the spectacular scenes of destruction that have played out around the world over the past weeks is that there is no safe place from which to observe them.”

In the intervening period, safety has deteriorated, for different reasons, in Afghanistan. The US could have acted to prevent this. Other NATO members could have better supported the US toward this end.

But even if Taliban recapture of the country had been prevented (or, at least, delayed), we would still be awaiting a durable settlement between Afghanistan’s warring factions. In the world we are in, we hope for the same.

In both scenarios, we wait for a reconciliation that has been illusive for decades. One comes with more deaths for NATO soldiers. The other with more refugees for NATO countries. There are no perfect options.

We arrived with the option that we did because the US, the indispensable nation, decided that it is dispensable. Or, more precisely, American interests are less dispensable than non-American interests.

The west, as we have understood it since 9/11, dies with this assertion of America First. This new order has similarities with the old. US power over global politics always had limits – Biden has just more openly acknowledged this his predecessors. The boundary between US and global interests was always fuzzy – Biden retrenched US interests in exiting Afghanistan, but it will seem much less so if its harsh terrain again becomes a haven for terrorist attacks on the US.

Beyond Afghanistan, the US seeks a new balance between its interests and global concerns. China might wonder about how invested the US remains in Taiwan’s defence; Russia might assess similarly on the Baltics.

The most extreme version of America First would withdraw the US security blanket to its own borders. Not so much the death of the west, as burying it deep underground. This would reduce safety far beyond Taiwan and the Baltics, including quite possibly within America itself.

As the US redetermines its enlightened self-interest, it might ask, as David Runciman on the History of Ideas podcast says the philosopher John Rawls did as a soldier returning to the US from the Pacific after World War II, what were we fighting for?

A society, argued Rawls, characterised by principles of justice that we would choose in ignorance of our position in that society. From such a position, none of us would choose to live in a village torn apart like tissue paper, a town burnt from the map, or a city with streets-turned-canals. The brutal and capricious consequences of our climate emergency are incompatible with outcomes selected from behind ‘the veil of ignorance’. They create inequalities that violate the maximin principle that Rawls claimed we would demand behind that veil.

But Rawls constructed this veil to identify principles of justice for society and, unlike society, the climate emergency knows no borders. This emergency demands that justice and solutions be global. Anything less risks injustice and inadequacy.

Rather than agonising over where to pitch its security blanket, the US should strive for a world in which this blanket never falls beneath the waves. The contest for islands in the South China Sea will be rendered obsolete by encroaching seas.

It is to the credit of The Economist that they gave prominence to the likelihood of 3°C of global warming. But bizarre, faced with significant parts of the world becoming unfit for human habitation, that their Leader emphasised adaptation.

If the US, as President Biden says, wants to lead with the power of its example, not the example of its power, he needs to demonstrate how US leadership can avoid such a world.

Make the US indispensable again. With this power targeted on humanity’s biggest problems. None is bigger than climate, though Covid-19 has a similar disregard for national borders.

Gordon Brown has bemoaned the effort to vaccinate the world and Adam Tooze is concerned about backsliding by Biden on climate. A west that rises to these challenges is the west that Biden must summon from the ashes of that left behind in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda’s greatest victory two decades ago was to befuddle the west about its gravest enemies.

Fear drives change. It was a fearful America that sought to remake the world after 9/11. We should now be fearful of 3°C of global warming.

This will be a world of Malthusian brutality, with uninhabitable nations making millions into climate refugees and extreme weather disrupting life across the globe, little more hospitable to the west’s values than Afghanistan is now.

Taking action to avoid this is what we do not have in Afghanistan: an easy choice. This, to answer the question that inspired Rawls, is what we should fight for.

Jonathan Todd is Deputy Editor of Labour Uncut

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36 Responses to “The west is dead, long live the west!”

  1. A.J. says:

    Mr.Todd, needless to say, was jubilant when Biden won the Presidency. Fair enough, I suppose: Trump was – and is – an oddball, presumably reflecting the reality that the GOP once again is unable to put forward candidates of stature, like Ronald Reagan. But – again needless to say – those who went before Mr. Todd also hated and mocked Reagan, as those on the Left (across Europe) have always preferred the Democrats, however sleazy and inept they might be. They just can’t help themselves. But I’ll stake my bus-pass on, in a decade or so, young Americans buying their college sweatshirts from ex-Taliban fighters just as chaps now buy their Clarks’ desert boots from Vietnam and housewives their washing machines from Germany.
    Remember the Final Solution, anyone?

  2. A.J. says:

    Lots of chatter about ‘moral duty’ washing around at the moment. The French, though, seem to be thumbing their noses. Possibly some recall their own problems with the Algerians et al. What about the ‘moral duty’ owed to a large number of white females in places like Rotherham? Oh, and by the way, is the Guardianista sisterhood planning a march or a vigil for their Afghan counterparts? Or is that too much like hard work? I’d be pretty sure that my pro-EU, Labour-supporting, NHS-clapping, former Greenham Common feminist is far too busy wondering whether she’ll be able to sip another glass of prosecco before the weather turns nasty.

  3. A.J. says:

    Can the UK any longer afford to have a ‘foreign policy’ and, if so, on what basis? Will anyone take notice, especially when the country is ‘led’ by non-entities like May and Johnson? I have to admit to not much liking this phrase ‘Global Britain’, and should have thought our top priority was in the realm of domestic politics, with Labour putting itself in a position to offer an effective opposition. Rawnsley in ‘The Observer’: ‘We’ve burned our bridges with the EU and have come to see the US cannot be depended upon’ (I quote from memory). I’m afraid I often think him a fool (Oxford education?). Which member state of the EU was ever reliable when it came to British interests? As for the US – think (at least a little) about Suez. Oh, yes, they were supposed to have been of some use over the Falklands. But, as my Professor of American History, the late David Adams, once told a class, there was and never had been any such thing as a ‘Special Relationship’ between the UK and the US and that the Americans actually had a closer relationship with republican France (not unlike the Scots). And now Johnson finds himself having to defer to this Poundland President and his chuckling sidekick, Ms. Harris. Could Sunak be any worse? Meanwhile, Starmer flounders. As expected.

  4. Tafia says:

    Do you know what really went wrong in Afghanistan? We tried to prop-up an openly corrupt political class system and force western liberal democracy and values with a middle class ideaology, on a largely rural, extremely socially conservative and deeply religious peasant population. Do not ever, ever tell people they are wrong and you know better and what is best for them. It will always blow up in your face.

    And the Afghan government, in order to prop itself up, with our active assistance, recruited quite openly an almost exclusively non-Pashtun Army and Police Force, almost exclusively from the towns and cities, along tribal lines, with the command elements appointed on a grace-and-favour system of tribes and tribal loyalties, when the largest ethnic group is Pashtun (40%), lives in the sticks and doesn’t relate to the concept of ‘Afghanistan’ anyway, and forms the bed-rock of the Taliban. It also basically embezzled the aid money to the tune of tens of billions, quite openly, with the full knowledge of the population and all the governments of the west, who believed they knew what was best for the country (they didn’t – they knew what was best for a largely urban, corrupt, middle-class elite and alienated the people that matterered – who quite rightly flocked to the Taliban as the only other option in town.)

    And most of that 300,000 ‘Army’ (pmsl) were little better than trained monkeys, taught to operate a vehicle checkpoint, put the right boot on the right foot and put their ammunition into magazines the correct way around. Most of the time. Rarely paid, poorly trained, incompetent, run by openly corrupt commanders. And the NATO soldiers ‘training’ them complained of this over and over and over again, to western politicians who refused to accept it because it didn’t fit the political ‘optic’. (Optic – the latest ‘in vogue’ buzzword used by inept, incapable and generally clueless politicians).

    The American media ran an interview with an American vehicle technician over a month ago. Before the main onslaught began, the Afghan Police Chief of one of the cities took ownership of a brand new fleet of 30 Nissan SUVs. A US fleet specialist went to teach them basic fleet management and maintainance a couple of days after delivery only to find that all 30 had been given away. 26 to the local Taliban in order to ‘buy’ a guarentee that he and his men would not be executed during the expected summer offensive that was due to start shortly (yes, they expected it), and the other 4 had been given to his brothers. And you paid for that, and that was going on openly, at all levels, from Ghani’s Office downwards, all over the country.

    We basically backed the wrong horse (Ghani) and put our desires and beliefs onto a country that was completely incompatable with what we consider ‘normal’ and were arrogant enough and stupid enough to think they were wrong, we were righht and they just needed ‘educating’ to western values. What could possibly have gone wrong?

    Parliament as a whole was only too happy to leave the Afghan’s security in the hands of the USA until three weeks ago. Apart from the mutual wringing of hands and pointing fingers, what constructive policy has any politician in Parliament (or Washington, Berlin, Paris – or even Brussels,) ever come up with in regards to Afghanistan other than try and impose foreign beliefs, standards and politics on it? Politicians are making a lot of noise – which is cheap to make – but nothing else. Maybe behind the scenes they’re only too happy to wash their hands of Afghanistan – 20,000 refugees is cheaper that sending 20,000 troops. Can anyone at all work out why Starmer wanted a recall of Parliament? (which the Speaker bozarrely granted) . Where MPs that stupid and arrogant they actully thought their opinions were of any importance in this and that the Taliban gave a toss what they think about anything?

    Neither Johnson nor Starmer nor Biden are proposing anything that will substantially change the situation in Afghanistan. UK will not be going to act independently because the UK doesn’t have the capacity, the will or the money to do so. The USA was not going to hang around forever – both Obama & Trump said as much, Trump signed an internatinal treaty 9Doha) and Biden not only continued with it but disastrously changed how it was being executed on the ground and the sequencing, without notifying or consulting with the Afghan government or the Allies. The Taliban have been stitching the USA up like a kipper since March.

    People have got to start understanding that the UK can’t have an independent foreign policy if you do not have the politicians, soldiers, diplomats and tax payers willing to do so and pay the bill in time, blood and money without quibble or question. And if the people want and independent foreign policy, that is the price they have got to pay. The UK Parliament (and the west generally) got what it deserved – ignored by a pack of flip-flop wearing peasants who understand the power of the gun and the concept of political will on the ground and how to enforce it.

    The Taliban will probably extend beyond Aug 31 – but there will be a cost, which if the west won’t meet, then they can forget. It will be something along the lines of only if we (the west) recognise their government, re-open and re-staff the Embassies around Kabul, grant immediate full diplomatic relations, lift the blocks on all the aid money, unfreeze the bank reserves etc – and pay them a large payment in gold bullion. Other than that, we can pack up and piss off on 31 ASug for all they care, not their problem. Remember, the Taliban doesn’t have to do anything to destroy the airlift (literally). If it lifts the outer screen of checkpoints that it runs, a quarter of a million desperate people will descend on the airport within an hour and overrun it and we would probably have to open fire on them to protect ourselves (won’t that look good in the media). They literally won’t have done anything, just stopped helping us. They’ll be doing less than they are now.

    Meanwhile, Washington diplomats continue to scour the world for blu-ray versions of Tom & Jerry cartoons, Bugs Bunny, and the muppet shows, for Presdient Biden to watch from his play pen with his nurse.

    Rule Number 1. The USA does what is best for the USA – all the time, over everything.
    Rule Number 2. There is only Rule 1.

    The USA is not interested in anything globally now (certainly not Europe or Africa) other than the Suez Canal and it’s approaches, the security of Israel, East Asia and the Pacific Rim – ie containing China and securing US shipping routes and access to markets.

    China meanwhile, is already signing deals with the Taliban for access to raw materials.

    Results of the four UK wars in Aghanistan?
    Match Abandoned in Extra Time (crowd trouble).

    As for vaccines, people better start understanding something and understanding and grasping the consequences sharpish. Covid is going nowhere for years and years to come. It will continue to mutate, sometimes to weaker variants, sometimes to stronger ones and some the vaccines will not work properly against it all the time. Restrictions will be brought in locally as and when needed, and the Red List system for holiday destinations etc, will continue indefinately. The government announced just a couple of days ago that it has ordered 37m Pfizer jabs to be ready for the end of next year, along with millions more already on order from Moderna and Astra-Zenica. How this is all going to be paid for will even affect what parties will be able to offer public spending-wise at the next General Election. (whilst at the same time trying to convince ordinary working people their days of cheap motoring will end and it’s a good idea that only the middle class will be able to afford to drive.). Labour meanwhile will convene a conference of LGBTA2Z issues and hold another inquiry into something or other of little relevance to real people.

    God bless our Armed Forces. Doing a first class job as always, despite the usual bollocks inflicted on them by clueless politicians who think they know how the job should be done.

  5. A.J. says:

    Bravo, Tafia. It was once said – rather cattily and I can’t remember by whom – that Eden invaded the Suez Canal Zone because he wanted to prove he’d got a real moustache. Tony Blair, I imagine, wanted to prove he’d got swollen testicles – or was at least as much of a man as Margaret Thatcher. Time for the UK, if it can’t efficiently look outward, to examine (or reexamine) the multitude of problems already existing in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Don’t forget the EU but work out some new relationship; same goes for the Americans, who are a deceitful bunch. Personally, I’m now looking for an authentic Conservative leader – though I don’t expect to find one. How our enemies around the world must be laughing at the likes of Johnson, Starmer and whoever it is who now ‘leads’ the Liberal Democrats.

  6. A.J. says:

    George Monbiot in ‘The Guardian’ today: well worth reading. In fact, a fair amount of good sense is coming out of ‘The Guardian’ at the moment just as the ‘Daily Telegraph’ appears hellbent on becoming a carbon-copy of its liberal counterpart (there are times when I have to shake my head at its smug stupidities, particularly on a Saturday, but it does make a good lining for my eighteen year old cats litter-tray). First Jenkins, now Monbiot – plus Simon Heffer in the ‘New Statesman’. Good.

  7. A.J. says:

    Just trying to think what Enoch Powell might have said about this kind of post-imperial adventuring. Much the same, perhaps, as Tony Benn and Michael Foot. I hated the First Gulf War/attack upon Iraq, met a few who were in exile; remember one poor chap giving my elder daughter (a small child at the time) a pound coin. He had a small daughter of his own back in Iraq and didn’t know if he’d ever see her again. My daughter married for the second time on Saturday and hosted a party for about 150 people in her back garden. I wonder what became of that young girl back in Iraq. Then, of course, as we all know, females are perfectly safe to walk the streets of the West without fear of molestation.

  8. A.J. says:

    I’ve just been reading about an Afghan convicted of raping two women in my home town. The justification of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was offered and the women described as ‘vulnerable sex workers’ (whatever that’s supposed to mean). This happened in an area that was notorious for prostitution before I was born and that is now overrun with various immigrant groups. But supposing his victims hadn’t been prostitutes (vulnerable or otherwise) but simply women or girls going about their business? Anyway, now we know: PTSD means you’re a potential rapist or being a rapist is a consequence of PTSD. I’m just glad the bastard – I mean unfortunate young refugee – was caught, that’s all. Anyway, it shows what western countries have to look forward to, by offering these people a safe haven. After Syria – will we never learn?

  9. A.J. says:

    Oh, and the best defence his QC could offer was that the rapist comes from a country where attitudes towards women are rather different to those in England. I can only suggest that the QC gets out a bit more often.

  10. Anne says:

    No doubt there will be a lot written about this situation- should the UK have gone in in the first place. What was achieved. What of the future.Many of those leaving Afghanistan are the very people who could help build the country and many crossing the English Channel are from this region. It is said that the Taliban practice a medieval form of Islam, and they certainly don’t look like they have any experience of running a country – more Viking (warriors) than Romans (builders). So this does not look good for this country. It always surprises me the difference between the UAE and Afghanistan. UAE had of course the oil revenue while Afghanistan is a poor country – they will certainly need help to rebuild their country. The most likely candidates for this role is China.

  11. wg says:

    Well said, Tafia.

    The most telling thing I’ve spotted on social media – a cartoon of a member of the Taliban handing back a rainbow flag to an American serviceman.

  12. A.J. says:

    The shot of Biden with his head in his hands reminded me very much of the odious Gordon Brown shortly after he’d insulted Gillian Duffy. Much the same kind of mentality, I expect: arrogance, self-entitlement, an unerring instinct for knowing what’s good for people whether they want it or not. Let’s face it, in some ways Margaret Thatcher wasn’t so far removed from that type. Then Biden tries talking tough, about the Kabul bombers: they must be crapping themselves. Meanwhile, back in the ‘civilised West’ all the chat is about so-called ‘sex workers’ on some internet porn site and a black soccer player is up on rape charges. Something has gone badly wrong. Or were the likes of Hurst and Moore, my boyhood heroes, shielded by the media? I hardly think so.

  13. A.J. says:

    I wonder if Obama will sooner or later come in for a kicking. After all these things don’t happen overnight and conservative commentators didn’t fail to mention Obama’s penchant for sucking up to regimes that were never ever going to smile favourably upon the Great Satan before coming to Britain and impudently lecturing us over the EU (which the Americans more or less bankrolled during the period it was known as something different; presumably we Brits didn’t deliver value for money).
    Read any decent analysis of Vietnam and it’ll tell you Lyndon Johnson had shit thrown all over him whilst those who had gone before – Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy – tended to get off lightly. It’s quite the thing at the moment of course for the Left to point to Trump, just as a silly little Councillor in Derbyshire spent years blaming the Thatcher Conservatives for any of Labour’s shortcomings (without bothering to go back any further – too much like hard work).
    Obama will surely go down in history, together with Carter, as one of most inept Presidents the Democratic Party produced. As Hillary Clinton is reputed to have said, No hand on the fucking tiller.

  14. A.J. says:

    An ex-soldier – ‘Anonymous’ – who served in Afghanistan has an article in ‘The Guardian’. Well worth a look. Meanwhile, again in ‘The Guardian’, someone called Ben Davis claims that Biden will survive this mess and that his ratings will climb again. He seems a little partisan. Analysis in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ contradicts him; neither side has a crystal ball.

  15. A.J. says:

    ‘Pen’ Farthing is probably – at least in his head – already counting the lolly. No doubt the Rescue Afghan Hound will become the pooch to parade amongst the chattering classes. Meanwhile, as an American Congresswoman (you know, a member of that side of the human race that does actually possess a vagina) states, quite reasonably, that not all of these refugees/migrants/asylum-seekers/whatever can function as interpreters. Indeed, early evidence from ‘The Guardian’ suggests that many arriving in the UK are having difficulty filling out the forms entitling them to Social Security etc. Nicola Sturgeon will welcome them with open arms – after ‘unpinging’ – as, poor sods, they become voting fodder for her coming independence drive.

  16. A.J. says:

    ‘Conference’ this year ought to be a masterclass in unintentional humour as the comrades line up to lambast the government’s handling of the retreat from Kabul, demand that all refugees be first in line for face to face GP appointments, free council housing, generous handouts, smartphones etc. etc. whilst the ‘working class’ delegates attempt to look enthusiastic whilst wondering how to sell it all to the ‘reactionaries’ back home. Then there will be the expected piffle on ‘trans rights’, the ‘green agenda’ (doubtless cribbing their notes from Carrie Symonds Johnson), BLM and all the rest of the garbage that so excites the working man in Consett. And what of the new leader of Unite? A standing ovation? Hisses and catcalls? I can’t wait to find out. Of course, if Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner had been in charge of the Kabul fiasco, it would have all been very different. But how? Gays and cockerpoos first?

  17. A.J. says:

    There is a beautiful picture of Starmer on ‘Labour List’ looking as though he’s just been offered a sausage sandwich with brown sauce on it by some activist north of Watford. Or possibly Rachel Reeves has just entered the room clad only in her knickers. Better, I suppose, than his ‘shy grin of triumph’ after a non-event like the Batley and Spen by-election: not ‘rabbit caught in the headlights’ but ‘gosh, honey, I just dropped the car-keys down a drain’. The best ever photograph I’ve seen of a Labour politico, though, was years and years ago: John Prescott playing trains with a little hat on looking as though he was on day release from some ‘special unit’. There is also a cracking one of Tony Benn looking particularly demented. Ditto, I’m afraid, of Enoch Powell. As for Boris Johnson, he should simply refuse to be photographed. At all. Ever.

  18. RD says:

    Labour see the electorate as divided its vote of the working class who won’t vote for it as TV characters , Hhyacinth Blouquet, Margo from the good life, Alf garnett and there’s no good trying to get working class tory voters as they’re all racist
    There was a feeling that labour had the middle class votes and those days had gone of labour needing to win back those voted
    but then labour doesn’t want to win so it doesn’t care

  19. A.J. says:

    Even ‘The Guardian’ this morning is unhappy with Biden. Who would have thought it? Wasn’t he supposed to be the great liberal hero? His compassion, it seems, does not extend to the Afghan people. Even Amnesty International have got in on the act. Yet I suspect many will forget, as many always do.

  20. John P Reid says:

    WG yes I saw that cartoon too
    Well said AJ

  21. John P Reid says:

    There’s A Mitchell and Webb sketch With the Nazis, with Skull and Cross bones badges on their hats asking Are we The baddies due to Skull and Cross bones being associated with Villainy

    but they also had “marching on the orders of God” on their belts, Leading in real like the Nazis to think they were the good guys
    Labour has got to get beyond its A moral Crusade
    As it automatically assume those who disagree are immoral and we stick to the policies of when we decided we were moral and if the public disagree by definition they’re immoral
    so when the public reject us we decide they’re wrong its better to lose as its A moral victory ,as we know the opponents voters are immoral
    even more proceed with the policies even though they’re out of date as because it would be insulting the previous convictions we’d based our soul on and then we end up justifying Phil Woolas sending out leaflets saying the Libdems would allow
    Muslim asylum seekers in who are Peadophiles and we feel we’re moral therefore do everything to prevent the Libdems winning and in the end we meeting into what it like the type to be moral idea we black out criticism as we think the ends justify the means

  22. A.J. says:

    The problems of Afghanistan and Sleepy Joe pale into insignificance when compared to those facing Keir Starmer and the Labour Party (what might young Sienna ever have laboured at, one wonders?). ‘The Morning Star’ claims that Starmer is being given an easy ride by the media – and they might be right. Sacking staff just before the conference season might be awkward, especially if Sharon Graham is on hand to bite you on the arse. Corbyn might not be allowed to speak at Brighton. The Labour Baby Squad is indulging in a collective hissy fit because David Evans is not especially interested in their participation (it would appear). The leader and front bench appear to have gone quiet on immigration and foreign policy – even the ‘New Statesman’ says so. Starmer is also being asked to put the tiresome Andrew Burnham back on his Christmas card list, spare a cuddle for Tracey Brabin and even attempt to take Mark Drakeford seriously. As if he didn’t have enough problems!

  23. A.J. says:

    Starmer, needless to say, supports the release from prison of double killer-rapist Colin Pitchfork.

  24. A.J. says:

    Now look at the BBC on how Europe’s relationship with Biden has soured. It’s as if I’d dumped my wife of twenty five years in favour of a Russian sex kitten who then emptied my bank account before throwing me out of my own home. Some form of pathetic expectation triumphing over realism leads to bitter disappointment – and worse. But Europeans love the Democrats. They really do. Look at all the idiocy over Trump visiting London. But Biden is no FDR. He certainly isn’t a JFK. He isn’t even a Woodrow Wilson. More like an LBJ and a Carter. But we’re stuck with him – aren’t we? And even if he were to be impeached, be named as a ‘lame duck’ President, isn’t that still a victory for the Taliban and so for China?

  25. A.J. says:

    Yet more ‘moral duty’ crap about Afghan refugees, this time from the so-called ‘Independent’ – surprise, surprise – an even Leftier rag than ‘The Guardian’, with an online petition encouraging their readership to badger the government into increasing the numbers. Now, I only know a couple of families who are ‘Independent’ readers and each live in the leafy suburbs, their children involved in nice, well-paid public and private sector jobs: the law and education. They are – needless to say – pro-EU, like their continental holidays, golf etc. Fair enough. But the refugees are likely to end up crowding into precisely the same areas that immigrants have been crowding into for the past sixty five years: narrow streets of often quite mean houses with all their usual problems of drugs, prostitution, violent crime, ill-health and so on. An estate agent told me over ten years ago that EU immigration was pushing up house prices in the rather trendy town where I now live. I had no difficulty in believing her.
    Then, of course, the theories are being revived that Afghan migration will lead to more migration in general – and the UK, as usual, will be expected to do her bit, leading to the inevitable population increase.
    More social division anyone? More racial violence? More bitterness and resentment? And won’t our politicians be surprised when the Afghans – in about five or six years time – turn out not to be the least bit grateful and the Far Right begins stirring again.

  26. A.J. says:

    I see Blair has gone quiet again. And Simon Jenkins continues to talk sense.

  27. A.J. says:

    There’s a very interesting article in ‘The New Statesman’ charting the twenty year decline of the Labour Party. Part of it highlights Blair’s cynical attitude towards the working class base, imagining they had nowhere else to go – a point raised by Dan Hodges a couple of years back. But people had stopped voting Labour. In fact, they had stopped voting at all. But when they did vote again it was either for UKIP or for the so-called ‘Conservative Party’ (hopeless and muddled as they tend to be). I’d already voted ‘Conservative’ – in 1992 – as a reaction against the ignorance and arrogance of the staff at the university I attended (as a mature student, having left school more or less by the age of fourteen), and have not voted Labour since. It took a lot longer for my wife to make the move rightwards, but a former shop steward has become (relatively) socially conservative as she’s grown older.
    I met (years ago) ‘Conservative’ voters who’d voted Labour in 1945 – “It was the right thing to do at the time” – but had become steadily disenchanted (probably with excessive union power in the 60s and 70s). And that tends to be the drift, doesn’t it, from youthful radicalism to middle-aged conservatism?
    Interesting, in the article, to what extent Blair gets the blame: for his cynicism, his complete misunderstanding of working class life and points of view: over crime, over education, over employment, perhaps most of all over immigration.
    But Johnson is only the new Blair. So what happens next?

  28. A.J. says:

    Hilary Mantel in ‘The Guardian’: ashamed of belonging to the nation that elected this government. Typical ‘Guardian’ stuff I suppose, but what does it tell you? Mantel is doing her Thornberry impression, speechless at flags on cars and vans and in windows. (As a matter of fact I don’t like it much myself; some of my dafter neighbours do it whenever England are playing. But that’s another story). Mantel – white, privileged, doubtless worth a bob or two – is evidently keen to do ‘the Left’ -i.e. the Labour Party – a major disservice by pissing all over those who – like my wife – decided to opt for Johnson in 2019 – and may well do so again in a year or two. Has Mantel thought of emigrating? Where would she go? Who would want her? Would she possibly be an embarrassment? Remember, this is the woman who dreamed of assassinating Margaret Thatcher: she has form.
    Ordinary people voted ‘Conservative’ because they couldn’t abide the thought of Corbyn, McDonnell, Lansman and the rest of that bunch of shabby dinosaurs. Mantel, needless to say, will know how to look after herself. Her type always do. We know them, in one form or another: my ex-mother-in-law, Bennite, Scargillite, who nonetheless made sure her daughters had a private education. The shameless NHS queue-jumpers. Does anyone suppose, if Mantel cuts herself shaving, she rolls up to her local A and E?
    Someone else (again in ‘The Guardian’) summed up Labour’s failure to win back in 1987 thus: “We lost because we were shit”. Someone ought to try telling Mantel that Labour lost in 2019 because they were shit and they’ll lose next time round because they’ll be even shittier.
    The Scots have already worked that one out.

  29. A.J. says:

    Mantel is hoping the Irish will have her. I hope they do. I’ll be sticking to P.G. Wodehouse, thanks very much.

  30. John P Reid says:

    So lisa nandy talked to some Jews in Liverpool 4th september 2021
    To try to get their votes back
    But did she say she would canvass against Corbyn, if Steptoe having not got the vote back can’t stand for labour and stands as A independent in 2 years time?

  31. A.J. says:

    ‘The Guardian’ brimming with its home-grown racists this morning, all slinging mud at Patel because she isn’t throwing her arms around Afghan refugees, calling them all ‘brother’ with tears in her eyes, promising them directorships in the City, five star hotel luxuries etc etc.
    The article, however, is probably basically sound. I doubt whether I’ll be seeing many Afghans in the trendy little town where I’ve lived for the past twenty one years, with its rainbow flags flying, its farmers markets and part-time eco-warriors warbling and strumming their guitars. Even the ‘Big Issue’ seller has vanished. White privilege rules here, except for my Sikh chum (who happens to be the local newsagent and a staunch Tory).
    I went to visit my younger daughter yesterday in Nottingham, in an area where white privilege runs into black not-quite-so-privileged just around the corner. I suspect the Afghans will join the previous waves of immigrants, including Africans, Poles, Kurds and huge numbers of Turks who live and work around there (Radford, where much of ‘Saturday Night And Sunday Morning’ was set). Plenty of drugs and the odd shooting. I wonder what they’ll make of it all.
    In the photo by the way, Patel looks more dutiful and tired around the eyes rather than in any sense malevolent.

  32. John P Reid says:

    well said AJ

    if labour ever wants to win again it literally has to have the slogan
    “never listen to A Word the guardian says again”

  33. Tafia says:

    Plenty of drugs and the odd shooting. I wonder what they’ll make of it all. Be just like home from home for them.

    Denmark will shortly be voting to make it law that all migrants work a minimum 37 hours a week, even thise on benefits – who will be allocated to litter picking, labouring for road works etc etc etc if they have no job. They say there are too many non-Western migrants who do not work and hide behind lack of language or cultural difficulties.

    ‘If you come to Denmark, it is on the understanding you work and support yourself and your faamily or we do not want you’

    The law is proposed by the Danish government itself, who are cenrtre-left and their equivalent of our Labour Party.

    August’s polling round-up will be posted as soon as we get an new thread on this now slowly dying site.

  34. Anne says:

    Having watched The American Open ladies tennis – what a wonderful game. Emma Raducanu was truly superb. It is therefore sad to read that the Taliban are going to ban women’s sport in Afghanistan. This is very detrimental to women. Again this is very much in contrast to the UAE where women are encouraged to participate in sport, and many top sporting events are hosted. Sport and culture are important- they benefit on such different levels – health being one.

  35. Tafia says:

    Anne, It is therefore sad to read that the Taliban are going to ban women’s sport in Afghanistan.

    They aren’t ‘goinmg to’. They already did. Days and days before you put that up. At least pretend to keep up.

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