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March 12, 2008
‘Red Warwick’ is increasingly spoken of in the hallowed tones usually reserved for the theological. Well, after all it did have its own Bible (Warwick University Ltd.), it had its prophets (E.P.Thompson, Germaine Greer), it certainly had its devil (the Vice-Chancellor). And there doesn’t seem much chance of a second coming either. But the recent success of the Go Green and Palestine Solidarity weeks suggests that Warwick’s political heart still beats on the left. As does the emergence of the admirably plural Dissident Warwick, a journal mercifully free from the apologetics for Islamist terror offered by some quarters of the left. In this regard, the decline of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and Respect has been just as gratifying.
One hopes that it marks an end to the most shameful period in the history of Warwick’s left, a period which saw George Galloway held up as a figure of socialist principle. Admittedly, taking Galloway apart is like harpooning a very large whale in a very small barrel, but since there remain those on campus that honour this man, it becomes not just a necessary duty, but a pleasurable one. I take no issue with the 2006 appearance of Galloway at a Stop the War event, a group dominated by the SWP and Respect, but rather with the fact that this invitation was designed to place him in a favourable light. A permatanned, creationist, carpetbagger, Galloway has many faults, but he will never better telling Saddam Hussein in 1994, ‘I thought the President would appreciate to know that even today, three years after the year, I still meet families who are calling their newborn sons Saddam’. He should have been greeted with, to annex Martin Amis’s description of the appropriate response to jihadist attacks, ‘an unvarying factory siren of unanimous disgust.’
It also remains more than perplexing that some of the most hysterical defenders of the No Platform policy lionise a man notorious for his ‘solidarity’ with the misogynistic and homophobic Hizbullah, currently listed as a banned racist and fascist group. But the most shaming moment for this pseudo-leftist nexus came when they handed out protest posters in advance of the death of the 100th British soldier in Iraq. What they didn’t tell students is that the SWP and Respect support the use of ‘all means necessary’ to attack British soldiers. The argument that all forms of ‘resistance’ are justified against the occupation has led these parties to fail to condemn, and by implication support, the use of children as decoys for chlorine bombs and most recently the strapping of explosives to Down’s syndrome sufferers unable to resist.
One can of course draw distinctions between student societies and national parties. But as one Respect member once put it in the Boar, ‘Don’t join a party unless you’re aware of all their ideologies, policies, and beliefs. You have to know that you will defend those ideas’. Well, quite.
If the Warwick left is to continue its recent progress it will need a greater reckoning with these past disgraces. Those who continue to apologise for them should be declared persona non grata in all progressive circles.
Published in the Warwick Boar, 04/03/08