The UK gets a new political party!

by Daniel on February 2, 2005

Nick Barlow has the details on the new political party “Veritas”, launched by former TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk (Yanks; kind of like Jerry Springer meets Tucker Carlson, uptown!). I hope he will form some sort of bloc with the Ulster Unionists, simply because I’ve been saving up an “Orangeman” joke for that eventuality for the last three years.

Below the fold I reproduce (with minor editing) an old D-squared Digest post, explaining why these parties are doomed, and why it’s a big mistake for Kilroy et al to extrapolate from their strong showings in European and local council elections to any hope of not getting carted out at a General Election. This analysis generalises, by the way, and that is why (full disclosure time) I have a chunky bet on Oona King to keep her seat in a two-way fight against George Galloway. As and when a spread betting market opens up, I will be a seller of Kilroy-Silk’s chances, in reasonable size.

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Help Find the Authentic Face of the Left

by Ted on February 2, 2005

Heavy blog readers know that Glenn Reynolds has picked an obscure wanker and dubbed him “The Authentic Face of the Left”. I can scarcely imagine a more dignified and convincing form of argument; not since a particularly devastating eighth grade game of “That’s Your Girlfriend” have I been so ashamed. (Hilzoy is not so contrite, for some reason.)

But has Reynolds picked the right target? It takes a very particular individual to represent the authentic face of roughly 40% of all Americans. I think that we can do better.

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Via “Political Theory Daily Review”:http://www.politicaltheory.info/, a “review”:http://context.themoscowtimes.com/story/139588/ of Robert Conquest’s new book, _The Dragons of Expectation_ which apparently makes some rather outrageous claims in the course of a general attack on leftist academics and internationalists. I haven’t read the book yet (I’m trying to get my hands on a copy),[1] but if the reviewer is quoting him accurately, Conquest argues that a fair portion of the blame for September 11 can be laid at the feet of left-leaning professors. The reviewer quotes from Conquest’s introduction:

bq. “And we are told that a number of members of the Middle Eastern terror groups had originally been in the local communist movements … The members of [the Real IRA and the Shining Path], as with those in Italy or, for example, the Naxalites in India, were almost entirely recruited from student elements who had accepted the abstractions of fashionable academics. And the September 11 bombers were almost all comfortably off young men, some having been to Western universities and there adopted the extremely anti-Western mind-set.”

According to the reviewer, Conquest doesn’t bother even to try to provide any evidence in support of this accusation.

There’s an interesting juxtaposition between this and the “disgusting efforts”:http://instapundit.com/archives/020810.php of Glenn Reynolds and others to use Ward Churchill’s comments as a means to smear the left. On the one hand, Conquest’s language and claims are less inflammatory and offensive than Churchill’s. On the other, Conquest is one of the right’s most senior and respected figures, a fellow of the Hoover Institute, and a key player in the Anglo-American right’s intellectual network. Churchill, in comparison, is a relative nobody who represents no-one except himself. I’ve always had a fondness for Conquest; he was dead right on Stalinism, and he comes across as a very human figure (and a first rate composer of limericks and light verse) in his letters to Kingsley Amis. But if he’s seriously trying to claim, on the basis of no apparent evidence, that leftwing professors in Western universities shoulder some of the blame for September 11, he should be deeply ashamed of himself. It’s a vicious, disgraceful slur, and it’s every bit as unacceptable as the claim that the West and the US had September 11 coming to them. Still, I don’t think that Reynolds or any of his cronies will be following their advice to the left and disassociating themselves from Conquest (indeed, judging by Reynolds’ dishonest and hate-filled post, I wouldn’t be surprised if he agrees with Conquest’s claims).

Update: to be quite clear (there’s already one “rather bizarre misinterpretation”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/006239.php out there in the blogosphere), Conquest isn’t referring in this passage to Western ideas percolating through into radical Islam in some indirect fashion. First, he draws a link between “the abstractions of fashionable academics” and the propensity of the students accepting those abstractions to then become terrorists. Then, in the very next sentence, he asserts a direct connection between the fact that some of the 9/11 terrorists attended Western universities, and the fact that they absorbed an anti-Western mindset. In the absence of any evidence of a connection between what the 9/11 terrorists were taught in Western universities, and what they then did, this is a slur, clear and simple.

Update 2: “Armed Liberal” “replies”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/006252.php (or, more precisely, purports to reply) to my post.

fn1. If, when I get the book, I find that the reviewer has seriously misrepresented Conquest, I’ll very happily apologize – however, given the unambiguous slur in the quote above, I don’t expect that I’ll be in a position where I need to.