Monday, February 14, 2005

He's right you know.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft on the hunting ban:

For Labour MPs, hunting has become a displacement activity, a means in which they try to persuade themselves - against all evidence - that they still belong to a radical movement. For the government it has been a vital sop to buy off discontent in the ranks, up to and including the most appalling betrayal of what the party once stood for.


For those who don't know the figures, by the way, more than 700 hours of parliamentary time were devoted to the hunting ban, as against seven hours spent on the decision to invade Iraq, a comparison that sums up the way we are governed.

On the evening the ban was passed, Martha Kearney on Newsnight described the political background, and the government's motives last year in taking up the hunting bill once again. As she said quite matter-of-factly, "it was brought back to restore morale after the war in Iraq".

So there you have it. This was a crust thrown to Labour MPs to thank them for supporting an unnecessary, illegal and immoral war, which Blair took this country into simply to demonstrate his uncritical loyalty to the most reactionary American president in living memory, and which has killed at least 20,000 and possibly 100,000 innocent people.


This doesn't mean that I won't permit myself a little smug smile of satisfaction when/if hunting is finally banned. After all, pissing off the toffs seems, to me, very much a good thing. However, Wheatcroft is undoubtably right to argue that this government's (half-arsed) effort to ban hunting is not motivated by real political or moral conviction. It's little more than a calculated, managerial manoeuvre on the part of New Labour. It's a bone to be tossed to the backbenchers and to 'core' Labour voters, to keep them on side. And while Old Labour do their best to convince themselves that this rather measly and fleshless bone is in fact the greatest of feasts, the real business of Blairism carries on unchecked - cutting benefits, creeping privatisation and war for oil.

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