The (sometimes) idiotic left….

Occasionally things crop-up on the left which just boggle the mind in their sheer stupidity. Donnacha DeLong, the new President of the NUJ, condemning the ‘Riot Womble’s’ effectively as ‘running dogs of capitalism’ [sic] was one of those things (Donnacha disputes he did as such and you can see his version of events here).  I let it slide and said nothing, it was so obviously stupid it didn’t really deserve a comment. Surely no sensible person could think the same thing? Well, when your wrong, you tend to be wrong. John Pilger, who I have an immense amount of time for as a normally sensible and articulate left-wing commentator had this to say in his most recent New Statesman piece:

Still, the brooms have arrived. In an age of public relations as news, the clean-up campaign, however well-meant by many people, can also serve the media goal of sweeping inequality and hopelessness under gentrified carpets, with cheery volunteers armed with brand new brooms and described as “Londoners” as if the rest were aliens. The otherwise absent Boris Johnson waved his new broom. Another Old Etonian, the PR to an asset stripper and currently the Prime Minister up to his neck in Hackgate, would surely approve.

Pilger, like it or not, is basically saying the same thing Donnacha DeLong in admittedly a slightly less idiotic and obviously moronic way. However, both are horribly wrong; there is absolutely nothing wrong with communities wanting to take control of their own backyards and repair the damage done. I’m really struggling with how this alibis capitalism to be brutally honest. If they had done nothing would people have suddenly had a collective epiphany and realised what a terrible and unjust system capitalism is? I somehow doubt it. Is the problem the fact they were not at home reading Das Kapital while they were ‘wombling’ along; as if they would have been in the first place?

The left really needs to engage the soft spongy thing that is supposed to rest between it’s collective ears sometimes. All of which brings us to the comments of Ken Livingstone last night  who compared the contest for the Mayoralty of London between him in the red corner and the Bruiser from Bullingdon, Borrrrrrrrisssss Jooooooohnson, in the blue corner to the slightly more epic and world defining contest between Winston Churchill and Hitler. Livingstone insists these comments were meant in jest which they obviously were (youd have to be pretty off-the-wall to mean them seriously) and it has to be said there is nothing in his comments which suggests he was saying Johnson *is* Hitler (he was saying he is evil, with Ken, of course, being good) despite what mischief makers in both Labour and Conservative Parties will tell you.

However, you can also see how its a pretty clumsy and stupid metaphor. You would think somebody with Ken’s obviously intellect might have thought twice about making such an obviously politically dangerous metaphorical judgement. Furthermore, you’d think that once he realised what a hole he had dug himself, Livingstone would stop not only digging further but instituting a round-the-clock three shift system.  Surely, it would have been easier to simply say, ‘fair cop, stupid thing to say, i’m sorry’ rather than pump out mind-bending press releases attempting to ascribe it all to your quirky sense of humour?

Mis-communication on such an horrible scale tends to suggest to me a wider problem of social disconnect. It’s idiocy shows disconnected from wider society the left is from the rest of society (and therefore a sense of an impact of what it says). Until that problem is solved I would expect the toe-curling moments like the ones above to keep coming thick and fast.


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21 responses to “The (sometimes) idiotic left….”

  1. cantabarrister says :

    There is nothing the Left finds more terrifying than genuine people power. This is why the Left is strongly opposing the government’s move to de-centralise governance in this country and increase localism. The Left knows that most ordinary, hard working people would never support the various crackpot schemes which are close to the hearts of people like Ken Livingstone and John Pilger. This is why socialism remains so attractive to these people, with its promise of government by an enlightened vanguard of the proletariat, which these people presume will be consist of them and people like them.


  2. Donnacha DeLong says :

    You know what the problem with too much of the right is? They believe what they read in right-wing newspapers. How about actually checking to see if what the Telegraph printed is accurate? It’s not hard to find out, because here’s my clarification:


  3. Donnacha DeLong says :

    Eh, the last three letters of my name are deliberate!


  4. darrellgoodliffe says :


    I’m not in a position to rule definitively either way really am since I cant see the exchange. Having said all that, in the interests of balance, as you will see, ive amended the text to give people access to your version of events.


    I am inclined to largely agree and we have left that culture of being an empowering political force. I think vanguardism is a bit of a blind alley, democracy is the way forward I would say


  5. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Having re-read the original piece and yours, I have to say what on earth are reactionary ‘classist’ elements that you are calling scum? If you’d specified somebody like the EDL then fair enough, actually, most people would agree with you but you dont, instead you launch this vauge attack on these ‘reactionary’ elements, what are they?


  6. Donnacha DeLong says :

    I was reacting to others’ allegations and, as I wasn’t there myself (I was in Tottenham trying to take part), I can’t specify. I did read Twitter posts that were, at the very least, classist and reactionary and at the worst Sharkey-esque. This was a facebook conversation, not an essay.

    The point is, I wasn’t launching an attack on anyone, I was defending the movement in general against people who were criticising it.


  7. Donnacha DeLong says :

    I don’t want to quote the whole conversation, because that would mean quoting other people without their permission, but to put it in context, my post before the two quoted in that paper, was “Donnacha DeLong: Some of us will be on them, the Tottenham attempted clean-up was supported by HSG (alas, the road is still cordoned off).” to which Al replied as quoted, and I replied.


  8. john p reid says :

    cantabarrister, surely if the Tries want to take away police countability from elected authorities to elected commisioners that having one person decide local police decisions to one person choosing them, as such that;s less democracy


    • cantabarrister says :

      No, John, I don’t think that elected police commissioners would result in ‘less demoncracy’, I think that in practice it would result in more democracy.
      Currently, local police forces are run by unelected and unaccountable policing boards, which are themselves only indirectly influenced by elected councils. And these elected councils themselves often have little democratic legitimacy, as they are usually elected on the back of very small turn-outs during local elections; (this small turn out in local elections is, in my view, the result of people being aware of the very limited political powers of local councils in comparison to central government, but that is another issue).
      If people could vote for a police commissioner, who would then decide the broad policing tactics to be used in that area and would then be accountable to that local electorate for the results of these police tactics, this would be far more democratic. People could have a direct say in how they want their local area to be policed.


  9. Graham Gillis says :

    @John. Gov’t want Europol so they can get thier Dachas built and not get called back from holiday.
    We are paying for this!


  10. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Ok, I wouldn’t expect that you to do that, what i’d like to hear is a personal explanation in your eyes of what these elements are. We all encountered this kind of thing, I don’t deny it; but I am still unclear how they relate exactly to the act of the clean-up. When somebody does something like a clean-up they enter with many different motives, exactly the same as when people riot they do the same thing, some have legitimate grivence and some dont.

    The point I am trying to tease out is that none of this effects the act itself. I think the rioting was wrong, understandable in itself but wrong and I have no problem with saying, whatever the reason people rioted it was wrong. Now, your formulation tends to suggest you have nuanced political differences with some of those who did the clean-up; sure, I am sure the same would be true of me, but, regardless of that the clean-up in and of itself was a valiant and correct act and no matter what motivations people may have had for that, it was the right thing to do.

    At the very least your comments therefore, I would submit were badly framed, I know Facebook isn’t the paragon of informed and lengthy political commentary, but I think its fair to say you can see how your comments may well have looked bad – it’s pretty much the same as with Ken actually, I would still say they were ill-advised if not judge them as harshly as I initially did and surely, in that situation, the best course of action is to then acknowledge that?


  11. cantabarrister says :

    The problem, darrell, is that Police Authorities are not elected at present. They are appointed. So they are undemocratic, unresponsive to the wants and needs of the public, and unaccountable if something goes wrong.


  12. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Totally agree, that is why I think they should be fully elected and accountable.


  13. Graham Gillis says :

    You would need a recall system for voters, or who would they be accountable to?


  14. John says :

    the tories got rid of the choice to have the GLC which elected the Person who scrutinied the police


  15. Graham Gillis says :

    I am all for removing expensive and corrupt layers of unnecessary bureaucracy.


  16. Matt Barker (@pigovian) says :

    @Darrell well written article that. Greens and I think the co-operative party, are in favour of local democracy rather than the often statist Labour. It is about striking the right balance as we cannot have everything our own way, but those that have succeeded should share more as it would not impact their quality of life as much as a poorer person. Especially if they get a windfall and/or pollute. TEQs and/or Pigovian taxes and/or windfall taxes are a good solution and can empower people


  17. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Thank you kindly :). It is about striking a balance and seeing the state in a more enabling than controlling light I think, the local organisations you mention need state support and will need a fora for national co-ordination and the state can be dissolved to the point where it is that. The state should be an enabler, not a controller, that is the way forward.


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