Paul Anderson doesn’t update his blog very often but when he does it is always worth reading and today’s entry is no exception.
OK, I’ll accept that the rise of popular opposition to the Iraq war gave the left a boost. But it was the very worst part of the left that benefited: the diehard Leninists of the Socialist Workers Party and the Communist Party of Britain, who appointed themselves as the leadership of the Stop the War Coalition. And their hard-core revolutionary defeatism and facile anti-imperialism did more harm than good even in the short term. All that remains from the mass mobilisation of 2003 is the grotesque sideshow of George Galloway, the SWP and a handful of reactionary Islamists in the Respect Coalition. After the election in Iraq, their support for the murderous Sunni-supremacist “resistance” looks like going down in history as the early-21st-century equivalent of the old Communist Party of Great Britain’s endorsement of the Hitler-Stalin pact in 1939.
Iraq apart, all that most of the left has done since 1997 is moan. It whinges about Blair, it whinges about spin, it whinges about PFI, it whinges — just like in the 1970s — about Europe. There isn’t a coherent left political programme of any description, let alone one that is creative and forward-looking. No one on the left has an alternative economic strategy that is even vaguely credible. Hardly anyone has the faintest idea of what a different foreign policy might comprise. (Setting a deadline for getting out of Iraq, as Robin Cook suggested in a jointly authored piece with Douglas Hurd and Menzies Campbell, is laughably stupid, and the resurgent anti-European Labour left’s plans to dish the EU constitution, in alliance with the Daily Mail, are beneath contempt.) There aren’t even very many leftists — even Fabians and Demosites — coming up with specific domestic policy bright ideas. For the most part, the left’s line is that if the government is for something, it must be bad.
I’m not denying that there’s plenty the government has done that ought to be opposed. But a left that is merely negative, a left without a project, can never flourish. Eight more years like the last eight, and the left might as well pack its bags and go home.