Debate with the Restart the War Coalition
Thanks to Michael Ezra at Harry’s Place for writing up my encounter with Chris Nineham (right) on Radio 2 yesterday.
Chris Nineham is from the Stop the War Coalition and a former leading activist within the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. John Rentoul, Tony Blair’s biographer, had the misfortune of having to debate with Nineham on BBC Radio 2. (The debate is available on You Tube)
Rentoul and Nineham were discussing the decision of Tony Blair to donate the advance and any future royalties he receives from his memoirs to the Royal British Legion. Below I copy an extract of the words from Rentoul to which I can only say, “Hear, hear.”
It is certainly extraordinary, sad and tragic that the media, including the BBC, have responded quite so viciously [to Tony Blair's decision] and is giving airtime to people like Chris Nineham….
The SWP was not against the war, it was in favour in the war, it was in favour of Saddam winning the war, and it was in favour of the British losing. So I don’t think he has got any authority to speak on this subject whatsoever. And I think we should just pay our respects to the bravery of British soldiers who carry out their professional duty in a democracy as decided by parliament in the appropriate way. And people who disagree with this decision should perhaps keep quiet for a day or two.
When Jane Hill, for the BBC, made the point that it was not just the Stop the War Coalition, but that there were also some service families who felt similarly, Rentoul noted:
An unrepresentative minority of service families … are grievously exploited by the SWP and their allies in the Stop the War Coalition. I think the vast majority of service families understand that a professional army carries out its duty as best it can according to the democratic decisions made by a democratic government in the country.
And thanks to Andrew Murphy for adding this quotation from George Orwell, from Notes on Nationalism, 1945:
Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries.
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