Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bow To No Man. Crawl For No One. Walk Tall.

John Mann, British Labour MP, recipient of this year's Jan Skarski award. Others flinch and sneer. Not John:

I have the honour of representing a coal mining area in Northern England. Decimated by the economics of the 1980s, until when every generation dug and hewed the coal that fired the British economy. And in the heat of underground mining those miners took their canaries in cages to warn against the dangers of toxic gases and impeding catastrophe.

The analogy of the canary in the cage is not original, nor is it mine. But I represent those elderly retired miners, with their dust filled dying lungs and their battered and broken knees where they crawled to work and cut coal in shafts half the size of a man.

And I tell you my credence: I bow to no man. I crawl for no one. I do not intend any member of my family will ever be forced to crawl on their knees. No constituent of mine will ever again be forced to kneel to work. And what is good enough for me, and my family and my constituents is good enough for you, for your families for your friends. For all families. For all friends.

And what I observe is that when the Jewish people walk tall some people don’t like it. . .

Noticed by Gene as "An Antidote to Galloway's Poison."

7 Comments:

Blogger The Plump said...

When I saw this post I immediately thought, who? I had never heard of him, so I had to look him up.

As chair of the all-party group on anti-Semitism he has no doubt done some excellent, if low key, work. His nose is clean on the expenses row as well. And his address on receipt of the award is admirable.

However, he does seem to bow to the party whips. He appears to be a loyalist right winger who has supported whatever New Labour has proposed, including measures that left even moderate social democrats holding their heads in despair.

His chief sin for me is that he voted in the debate on the disastrous policy that wrecked lifelong learning in universities and contributed to the early end to my career (something I might actually be grateful for in a strange way). He, of course, voted for the policy, exactly as told, and thereby help to finish off our vigorous and successful all-party campaign.

I posted this comment for two reasons. The first is that I get seriously pissed off by the appropriation of the language of labourism by those who long ago abandoned the practice.

The second is much more substantial. The crisis in the left is twofold, especially in the UK.

You have paid much attention to the disastrous stance on internationalism taken by much of the left. This is where Blairites got it right, this is where they showed a genuine left/liberal internationalism. Not only that, it was not rhetorical but backed by action - even before 9/11.

However, on domestic policy they fully accepted the Thatcherite settlement and as Nick Cohen put it in Standpoint,

... the imperative to get the Tories out and keep them out came to mean accepting a raging free-market in high finance. Not reluctantly, as a regrettable political necessity, but in the cases of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, at least, joyously and with the fervour of an Ayn Rand cultist.

John Mann appears to have supported both. Absolutely right on one, and seriously wrong on the other. A rebuilt, social democratic left needs to remember that it is anti, not pro, fascist, that there is a need for international solidarity to promote democracy and human rights. But it is also about promoting economic security and equality and that requires a new social democratic settlement and vision that is missing from mainstream politics.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"But it is also about promoting economic security and equality and that requires a new social democratic settlement and vision that is missing from mainstream politics."

Aye.

Good man Gadge. You've put me right.

10:00 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"The scholars including Americas, who answer every argument with a but.."

The Plump:

"As chair of the all-party group on anti-Semitism he has no doubt done some excellent, if low key, work... However..."

This, to my ear, sounds like a low-key dismissive sneer. Talk about damning with faint praise.

3:50 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

He can't, of course, be recognized for being good. He must be perfect. And the perfection to be decided in accordance with surgically precise criteria of a certain ideology.

3:54 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

He can't, of course, be recognized for being good.

He can be recognised for being good on one thing and bad on others.

This is the essence of my comment. From my perspective as seeing the purpose of the Labour Party to be a social democratic leftist party, their record on international affairs has been bold, on domestic policies they have been a absolute disaster.

And this MP has been a largely anonymous, loyal servant of the political machine without much record of independent thought.

2:46 AM  
Blogger IceClass said...

"And this MP has been a largely anonymous, loyal servant of the political machine without much record of independent thought."

While I could agree with the first part couldn't his stance against qualify as independent thought? - In my mind all the more so when I read some of the idiotic reactions to his award from the usual nut wing of the Guardian readership et al.

12:12 PM  
Blogger bob said...

I just lost a certain amount of my respect for Mann on discovering today that he is one of the few Labour MPs signed up to Frank Field's anti-immigrant "Balanced" Migration group http://www.balancedmigration.com/about.php

4:51 AM  

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