As a matter of fact, I do not feel even remotely sentimental about the death of Michael Foot. No, there was nothing fine about the man, despite that flying mane of hair, as people, even on the right, keep telling me. He was not particularly honest or honourable and, having spent decades telling all who would listen and many who would not that he would never accept a position on the front benches, would never be anything but a fiery radical, who opposed his own party’s leadership, if needs be, he jumped at the chance of becoming leader, scuppering the chances of the far more sensible and intelligent Peter Shore. The outcome is well known: Michael Foot led the party to oblivion; he made it unelectable; he allowed the widespread infiltration by Militant Tendency, which led to the prolonged and expensive struggle to root that organization out. Apart from that, Foot spoke at numerous Morning Star rallies (non-British readers: that was the in-house newspaper of the CPGB, funded by the Kremlin, until the CPGB existed) and supported every pro-Soviet cause that happened to be around.However, he and his like did have brain cells and these often interconnected. The new lot seems to have nothing. Or, as Eeyore would put it, just some grey fluff that blew in. I was convinced of this when I saw the demonstration of about a hundred people against Geert Wilders’s visit.
As we walked rather rapidly (he was bundled into a car by burly security men and was driven the fifty yards) I noted the group, corralled by the police who had arrived in vans with dogs, the latter being rather bored and pleading to be allowed to have some fun. Sternly, their handlers restrained them.
No, these were not the bearded, freedom-loving representatives of the religion of peace who were promising to put us all under Sharia law last time. None of them bothered to turn up this time. These were rent-a-mob with carefully printed identical signs that told us about the BNP and the EDL (English Defence League) being Nazi-Racist Thugs. Small problem: neither of those organizations was there. Geert Wilders has nothing to do with them and his party is a long way from being national socialist. He had been invited by Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Baroness Cox to show his film in the House of Lords and was on his way to give a press conference in another part of the House.
Did nobody tell these bozos, particularly the singularly unpleasant specimen, who was yelling “EDL are Scum” what they were supposed to be demonstrating against?
PS It has been pointed out to me that this was not a sign of stupidity merely but of a general parochialism in British politics that prevents activists on whatever side they happen to be from realizing that there is a big bad world outside their own petty considerations. Someone must have said that there was a “fascist racist” appearing somewhere in Westminster. D’uh! – they thought. Must be BNP and/or EDL. Let’s go for both of them, just in case.
Yet again, I miss the old left. Misguided and misinformed they may have been but they saw themselves as internationalists. At least, they would have heard of politicians from other countries and I don’t mean just Republican Presidents of the United States.