Two weeks after Paris we finally have some clarity from the political left. The current stance of their leadership (as expressed in the Parliamentary Labour party) is that while there is no justification for bombing ISIS, there are many reasons to bomb London. On the same evening that Jeremy Corbyn told his party that he could not support airstrikes on ISIS his old comrade (and head of the Labour party’s new ‘defence review’) Ken Livingstone shared his view on Question Time that the 7/7 bombers ‘gave their lives’ in an act of supremely selfless objection to the 2nd Iraq War.
Now I know that there are a few people still on the left who object to this line of thought or try to resist it. They like to call themselves the ‘decent left’ among other things. But they should recognise that they have lost. Their party is headed by a Marxist who is supported by a Stalinist and seconded by someone who while spending this week denying he is a Maoist was once again shown to be a supporter of IRA violence. Knowing when you have lost is important. It means you can begin the mourning process.
One minor point of interest to me over recent days has been watching some survivors of the left who have spent the last decade attacking anyone who has written on terrorism and Islamism now beginning to talk like old pros about Islamism and terrorism. You’d almost think they’d spent the last decade addressing these issues, rather than trying to shut down anyone who did address them. I suppose they’ll make some running of it and bluff along for a while, but these people seem to me little use to anyone. We don’t need them to talk about how ‘pathetic’ ISIS are or otherwise describe them as offensively as possible (‘death-cult’ etc) as though they might offend ISIS into submission. These people remain part of the problem because even though they have woken up to an element of Islamism they still display that lack of honesty which is one reason why they have lost even on their own political side.
Because currently the ‘decent left’ is trying to hold the following line. It is no longer ‘racist’ to be rude about ISIS or ISIS-like groups. Nor is it any longer ‘bigoted’ or ‘Islamophobic’ to identify an ideological component to their actions. There is even a recognition that ‘non-progressive’ ideological views are held by a certain portion of the Muslim communities of Europe. However, it remains deeply bigoted, racist and ‘Islamophobic’ to express any concern about bringing millions more Muslims into Britain and Europe.
So these people recognise the problem but appear to be saying that we answer it by importing a limitless number of people from the Muslim world into our societies. Personally I have no problem with allowing in some asylum-seekers from Syria so long as we have good background check mechanisms in place. Syria’s refugees will include some highly educated and brilliant people who will bring great worth to any country they are in. But this country has just hit another historic immigration high and I have little confidence that what system there is in place works now or is mendable in the near future. So this is an area which requires some pretty frank discussion. But it is a discussion the so-called ‘decent left’ is trying to shut down even now.
The sad reality is that it will take many more terrorist attacks to inch the ‘decent left’ towards the logic of their own conclusions – which is that numbers matter. In the meantime they will continue to insist that talking numbers is racist and that an extremism problem which comprised even 0.5% of four million people might be a problem, while an extremism problem comprising even 0.5% of, say, eight million people must not be discussed.
Well they should know that they are only destroying their own remaining credibility. Already the insult that the left has been using for decades with unbelievable frivolity seems to be losing its power. And that is a shame. Racism is a terrible as well as stupid thing and it helps to have a meaningful word to identify it. But not only has the left blunted the word by over-use, they have another problem of their own creation. Which is that the Labour party’s leader is a supporter of some of the most racist groups on the planet. Not only racist terror-groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, but racists inside the UK. For instance he has even campaigned on behalf of a man convicted of targeting British Jews for violence. Why should anybody feel cowed by accusations of ‘racism’ from a political side led by Jeremy Corbyn? The answer is that very soon they won’t be. So the left’s moral authority on racism seems to have gone. And any remaining authority on security or foreign affairs now looks likely to follow. All of which is wonderful news for the right. But I would say that it is beginning to look terminal for the left.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.