On supporting violence to achieve political ends


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They say Tony Benn wept in the Visitors’ Gallery of the House of Commons as he watched his son Hilary make his maiden speech as an MP. Had he been alive last night, he would surely have wept again, this time from shame rather than pride.

By all accounts  Benn’s speech was the speech of the night. He tore a strip off David Cameron for his handling of the whole Syria affair, while at the same time urging support of the motion for bombing Syria. Indirectly he tore into his own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, by recalling the involvement of trade unions and socialists against the tyranny of Hitler and Mussolini. When he had finished there was applause, in some cases standing applause, for his speech. Maria Eagle, late of this parish, leaned across Jeremy Corbyn to shake his hand.

A number of Labour MPs have been complaining that they have received abusive emails because they were planning to or had voted for bombing. A Labour councillor described Momentum, the group supporting Jeremy Corbyn, as “scum”. The chair of the Stop The War campaign said those Labour MPs who had voted for bombing “should be branded with infamy for the rest of their political careers”.  George Galloway said receiving a few angry emails hardly compared with the suffering that would now be unleashed on innocent Syrians.

They don’t mind name-calling or making bloody decisions in the House of Commons. Just imagine if a politician over here were to urge violence against others, or describe others as scum, or formally congratulate the perpetrators when the violence has been inflicted….Eh?  Ken Magennis, you say.  And Tom Elliott. What about them?

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20 Responses to On supporting violence to achieve political ends

  1. James Strawbridge December 3, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    Tragic irony with Benn’s closing speech, not least the applause from the opposite benches.
    A speech full of grand oratory but lacking objective analysis and conflating 20th century history with the present issues and challenges. It’s an insult to those who have died and will die as a result of UK military action.
    Perpetual war for perpetual peace- as Vidal once said.

  2. Iolar December 3, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    Gilt edge policies

    “We have forgotten that the story is part of an unhappy record of British relations in the Middle East…considered in the light of what we now know, the Gulf War is seen to be a war for profit, oil and control of the region.” Tony Benn 1992

    Why were the words “Daesh” and “terrorist sympathisers” used by Mr Cameron in parliament? Daesh is an acronym derived from a phrase for Islamic State. Daas refers to humiliation and lack of dignity. Arabic speakers will be aware of the gratuitous insult in the same way many MP’s reacted to being labelled “terrorist sympathisers.”

    Within minutes of the vote last night, more bombs were being dropped in Syria as bodies were being covered in the USA following the most recent shootings. Mr Cameron may have one a vote, with our without Labour support on 2 December 2015, but as chaos reigns in the Middle East, arms manufacturers will remain content with their profit margins.

    • Iolar December 3, 2015 at 11:16 am #

      Tá brón orm, that should read… won a vote with or without Labour support. Mea maxima culpa.

    • Sherdy December 3, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

      Another tragic mass murder in America, facilitated by the intense lobbying of the NRA.
      But by the reasoning of last night’s vote in Westminster, Obama and his allies should now start bombing the area in which that atrocity took place.

  3. Jim.hunter December 3, 2015 at 11:10 am #


  4. Séamus Ó Néill December 3, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    It’s beyond belief that a small island lying to the east of us who has ,selfishly ,operated an intentionally evil policy of indiscriminate death ,famine ,murder and mayhem throughout the entire world for millennia would remorselessly last night vote for more of the same! However that once mighty bully has been reduced to an insignificant annoyance on the world stage….a lapdog to do America’s bidding…..an American base on the edge of Europe. On America’s behest she will bomb Syria and when the repercussions come it will be the unfortunate innocents in Britain who’ll suffer..never the warmongers in America or their British minions.Of course our own ultra-hypocritical ,fanatical ,hand-wrenching Christian Unionists voted for a fest of bloodletting unaware of the paradox….but then the lift never quite went to the top floor.

    • Willie D. December 3, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

      What a load of over -the -top drivel! Reduce the “millennia” bit to a couple of hundred years and delete “throughout the entire world” and perhaps we could take your argument, such as it is, a wee bit more seriously. I also fancy the hypocrisy isn’t limited to unionists, aren’t some of the people who swell Sinn Fein’s funds in America also very supportive of raids on Iraq and Syria?
      I don’t support Britain joining in what will probably turn out to be a futile exercise, but any argument against it has to be coherent, not simply a load of hysterical Brit-bashing.

  5. Jason December 3, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    It’s classic Shakespeare:

    ” So powerful are fathers that not even death can still their desire. Like Freud’s Ur-father, from beyond the grave they continue to assert their will […] Failures of memory in the younger generation — whether these take the form of simple disobedience, neglect, or an actual assault — are symbolic versions of Freud’s primal patricide.”

    Calderwood, James L. ‘Shakespeare and the Denial of Death.’ Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts P, 1987. 122.

    • Jude Collins December 3, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      Wow. Never thought of it that way, Jason. But it fits, it fits…

  6. ben madigan December 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    besides the freudian undertones of quintessential Englishman Hilary Benn’s speech, the Westminster vote was about the ego of the British establishment, about Britain “strutting the world stage”, “standing tall” and “punching above its weight”


  7. ANOTHER JUDE December 3, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    I think Benn senior was a RAF pilot during the second world war, I could be wrong but maybe little Hilary thought he was being loyal to daddy? I hate IS and all they stand for and if the bombs dropping from thousands of feet manage to wipe them out then that`s fine by me. But to hear Hilary talking about `our brave pilots` (see earlier reference to thousands of feet…..) really did take the biscuit. The fact of the matter is Cameron, like Blair before him, gets a hard on just thinking about military matters, that`s just the way he is. He is a British PM, ffs.

  8. Belfastdan December 3, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    It seems the Brits still hold the same attitudes that they held when Britannia waived the rules; gunboat diplomacy.

    Chuck a few shells or bombs in the direction of the uppity natives and all will be right with the world.

    Alternatively they could send in some of Britain’s finest to do a few drive by shootings. Now where have we heard of that before?

  9. colm December 3, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    Labour M.P.’s are not stupid people. There are no Johnny McQuades in their ranks. It is inconceivable that 66 of them were fooled by Cameron’s nonsensical arguments about the bombing of Syria. Instead, led by Bomber Benn their vote was the first blow in the war against Jeremy Corbyn. That thousands more Syrians have to die in these precision raids is a small price to pay to get rid of their leftie leader… there being few New Labour voters in the Levant.

    • Sherdy December 3, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

      The late unlamented Johnny McQuade: ‘There’s people making allegations about me, and I’m going to get the allegators’!

  10. Perkin Warbeck December 3, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    Just no getting away from the playing fields of Eton these times, Esteemed Blogmeister: could it be something to do with the E-age we now inhabit?

    For the most significant six-handkerchief support (apart altogether from the anti-bombing band of brothers in the Unionist cohort) which Old Etonian D’Cameron received last night was from another Old Etonian, the exquisitely named Hilary Benn.

    For HB was schooled in the Holland Park Comprehensive which is widely known as, erm, the ‘Eton for Socialists’. Hilary’s pater was of course the estimable Tony, the Tony Bennet of the benches, whose mellow voice of reason and sanity serenaded the tone-deaf warmongers of Westminster with his signature tune: ‘From Riches to Rags’.

    Benn pater was distantly linked to the Wedgewood pottery lot and not only did he allow that connection to unceremoniously drop to the floor of the Commons but he also beat the daylights out of his inherited knighthood.

    Sir A.J.F. O’Reilly (may his tribe increase !) is another knight who had distant links to the Wedgewood lottery pot (and which link, wistfully, is becoming all the more distant by the day, if one is to believe reports from the Bahamian bankruptcy courts) but has seemingly and stubbornly clung on to his knighthood, sir.

    The rather inconsiderate old phrase ‘Bogger on Horseback’ comes to mind, but not to that of the compassionate Perkie, forsooth.

    As combinations of names go that of ‘Hilary Benn’ is fascinating to the point of justifying a tap on the shoulder (while the recipient is in knee-bending mode) from that of the multi-named Mrs. Saxe-Coburg-Goth, who is a dame who has, be in known, a THING about names.

    Going back to her own ascension to the throne (and perchance, even before). On the very day in 1953 that GB/ UK (names!) were celebrating the Coronation of Elizabeth 2 news filtered through that (gulp) the summit of Ben Everest had just been scaled by a man called (gasp) Hillery.

    Ben, as even Gregory of the Crooked Mouth, can aver, from the height of his linguistic horseback, is the leprechaun for ‘Mount’ : think Ben Madigan, Ben Nevis, Ben Laden, oops, Ben Bulben.

    And the one n in that name is offset by the extra l in Hillery, thereby preserving the all important symmetry. Which would not have happened, incidentally, if the current edition of Benn had deleted the second n of his, erm, surname. For that would have left no one else the richer but himself all the poorer: he would have been unable, as it were, to make n’s meet.

    Thus, raising the appalling vista of (a) his facing the rigours of bankruptcy; and (b) the even bigger rigour of losing his seat. (See Tony above: no, that one, the other one, the Tony who clung like a shipwrecked reject to the flotsam and j. of his knighthood).

    Both Hilary and Hillery shared similar positive opinions of the whiter than white RAF, though it wasn’t always like that. Whereas the mountain climber first baulked at the idea of enlisting in the All-Black version of the RAF on ‘religious grounds’ he was later to change his mind.
    Eventually he baulked the baulk, joined the NZRAF and walked the walk across the tarmac with goggles in his hand, Biggles on his mind and no more haggles in his heart.
    It is unknown if the socialist climber, Hilary Benn, was ever haltered by a different opinion, one which he had to alter at a later date, going forward.

    Going backward, his alma mater (though not that of his pater) may have influenced Hilary in his oration last night (which reached everestian Des O’Mali oratorical heights:” I stand by the Empah !”): Holland Park.

    Holland is but a short e way from Hollande, though this is perhaps better avoided, as it would suggest the nether regions rather than Himalayan heights to which he aspired in his flights of oratory.

    The French Connection is, from a nomenclaturial view, difficult to avoid. Specifically the one called Percy whose name suggests porcelain of a different quality to that of Wedgewood.

    That would be the songwriter Percy French who, although he hailed from Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, did not in fact author ‘Twenty Four Hours from Tulsk’ as some claim. He was schooled in Foyle College in Londonderry (see under Gregorian chant above). Later, due to straitened financial circumstance as undergraduate in TCD in 1877 PF sold his first song for a fiver to an unscrupulous publisher.

    (See under Eton Fives which it is not to be confused or connected with the commonplace notion of a mere fiver).

    This song was inspired by the Russo-Turkish contretemps of the time and is remarkably prescient re. the current impasse (for ‘trod on toe’ read ‘violate air space’):

    ‘Young man’ quote Bulbul, ‘has life grown so dull
    That you’re anxious to end your career?
    Vile infidel ! know you’ve trod on the toe
    Of Abdul Abul Amir.

    So take your last look at the sunshine and brook
    And send your regards to the Czar
    By this I imply you’re going to die
    Ivan Skavinsky Skvar !.’

    For ISS (pronounced like a sneeze) read Vladimir Putin. Now, there’a vile infidel who knows a thing or two about (gulp) names.

    His grandfather, Spiridon Ivanovich Putin, had a great talent for cooking and before he was 20 years old was preparing meals for the aristocracy in the Astoria, a five-star hotel on St. Issac’s Square in the Tsarist capital of St. Petersburg. His patrons included the Tsar’s Romanov relatives and the mad monk, Rasputin (later to achieve a certain posthumous notoriety, courtesy of Bony M).

    Is Vladimir Putin descended from old Rasser Putin ? What’s in a name? That which we call a pose would etc.

    There is a current twee sidehow in progress in the esteemed letter columns of The Unionist Times at the moment which poses the question whether Michael Foot MP. Footie was a colleague and like-minded Labour MP as Tony Benn, and once actually wore a (gasp) donkey jacket at a wreath laying ceremony for the Fallen of 14-18.

    The implication being that he showed a measure of disrespect for the Fallen. Perkie’s inner poppy wearer finds this suggestion a tad baffling: after all, what could be more sartorially appropriate for The Great Donkey Derby?

    As these things tend to go in threes, if not grow on trees: WW1, WW2….., perhaps it is best not to tempt fate by proceeding any further. Bearing in mind the unfortunate fate of ‘my brother James who got the rap of a hames at the hairy ass fair’.

    Benn there, undone that.

  11. billy December 3, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

    funny reading irishmen being worried about england going to war in some far flung corner of the world.

  12. Séamus Ó Néill December 4, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    Addendum; Willie D, England has been an unwelcome parasite here ,with all her infamy for 845 years….almost a millennium ….I could remind you about the Crusades , begun in 1095…another unholy war against Muslims …There are only 22 countries worldwide thatshe did not rape ,plunder and pillage !

    • Willie D. December 4, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

      Well, for a start it was the Norman French who came to Ireland in 1169, invited in by Dermot MacMurrough, the same Normans who had just conquered England, with greater speed and brutality than they managed to achieve here. Don’t know what the crusades have got to do with the infamy of the British Empire, which only got going in the late 18th Century and lasted about 150 years.
      Cameron is intervening in Syria because he feels he has to do something to save face in the wake of the Paris attacks : the targets which the British air force will attack would have been targeted in any case by the Americans/Russians/French.
      I see the Germans have voted to join the Syrian campaign. Can I, therefore, look forward to an incoherent, anti-German tirade. A few suggestions : The Nazis, Frederick the Great, Barbarossa, all those massacres during the 30 Years War, the gratuitous cruelty in the stories collected by the Brothers Grimm …

  13. Séamus Ó Néill December 5, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    Best deal in facts ,Willie D, sarcastic revisionism doesn’t really float my boat….Cabot ,Drake, Cook ,Raleigh etc were all 15th century charity workers.??..America was not a colony until it gained it’s independence in 1776. The first Irish were not transported to Australia ,courtesy of our neighbours in 1791. From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade , from 1845 -1851 millions of people starved to death by the roadside whilst boat loads of food left Ireland for England …yes Willie , between several attempts at genocide ,slavery , mass murder etc etc ,you can possibly understand why I am not too enamoured by the actions of the ones next door !