Friday, 7 September 2018

David Blunkett and the Daily Telegraph

In his account of the socialist revolution in News from Nowhere, Morris mentions ‘one very violent reactionary newspaper (called The Daily Telegraph)’.  Editor David Leopold helpfully adds in a note that ‘what Morris refers to as “the ravings of the Telegraph” occasionally formed the subject of his journalism’.  Well, that newspaper certainly hasn’t changed its political spots since the 1890s and is as reactionary now as it was then; it will jump on any rumour, any story, any bandwagon to destroy the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.  So when former Labour Minister David Blunkett writes in The Telegraph about what he calls ‘the recent return to … bullying and thuggery’ in the Labour Party (31 August), we have to ask exactly what he’s up to.

What he actually means, of course, is that the Left is currently running the Party and that he, as a Blairite, is not at all happy about that fact – either the substantive political fact itself, or the tone in which some of the internal debate is allegedly being conducted.  Now if you said this at your local branch meeting or at a regional party conference or even at some national Labour gathering, then that might be an appropriate contribution to this important political debate.  There are many complex issues at stake at the moment – Brexit, anti-semitism, the Mediterranean migration crisis, and so on – on which all voices in the party need to be heard.

But when you publish your argument in that ‘very violent reactionary’ newpaper, and you also join in its ‘ravings’ by using incendiary phrasing like ‘return to … bullying and thuggery’, then you are doing something very different indeed.  You are lending your name, voice and reputation to the Daily Telegraph’s campaign to discredit Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum, and you implicitly announce that you too, like it, will now do or say anything that will destroy the possibility of a Corbyn-led government.  In a time of swiftly approaching change, Morris argues in News from Nowhere, ‘such an element was too dangerous for mere traitors and self-seekers, and one by one they were thrust out and mostly joined the declared reactionaries’.  You’ve taken one small but significant step towards those reactionaries by writing for their newspaper, Mr Blunkett.

1 comment:

Kotick said...

Tony, as a very clear example of a move from Labour towards the “declared reactionaries”, you could cite Tony Blair himself, for as Owen Jones remarks in an excellent piece in ‘The Guardian’, Blair “is more critical of his own party’s leader than he is of the dictatorships from which he is happy, of course, to accept employment”. See