Regular visitors will be aware that in this web lodge there has been a steady decline in the amount of serious political comment (or textual wank, as I prefer to call it). It can be dull to write, and is no doubt tedious to read, even where you agree with the sentiments expressed.
This would explain my reluctance to give voice to opinions on the great issues of the day. My opinions are seldom informed, as like most others I rely for information on broadcast and print media news reports. But journalism proper is no longer seen as cost-effective, and what we are presented with instead are newspaper editorials and op-eds by the bucketload.
When it comes to the political crisis in Iran, there is no shortage of comment issued from the furiously tapping fingers of over-caffeinated western pundits. And much of it is, to use the current language of the street, “meh”. The usual tropes are displayed in abundance, with on one extreme a fashionable cynicism which sees the drama unfolding in Tehran as little more than a power struggle between supposedly liberal former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and reactionary Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini Khamenei.
Extend this theme with an anti-imperialist narrative, and you get the wisdom of the British left’s chief Stalin apologist, Seumas Milne, who in the Grauniad yesterday dismissed the legions of Iranians protesting a stolen election as “Tehran’s gilded youth”. Haughty, maybe, but a distinct improvement on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “scum”: an offhand comment for which the sitting president got a ticking off from his masters in the Guardian Council.
We can put this down to good breeding, for Seumas Milne is, as Norman Geras helpfully reminds us, the progeny of former BBC Director General Alasdair Milne. He is a graduate of leading public school Winchester College, and Balliol College Oxford. I know of Milne as one of a faction of Leninists known as Straight Left, which in the 1980s resisted the Communist Party of Great Britain’s attempt to transform itself into a democratic socialist organisation. It may have taken them a while, but the ‘tankies’ ended up winning the political battle. They then proceeded to take over the remainder of the non-libertarian British left, including its Trotskyite fringe.
The fluffy-bunny eurocommunist majority in the Communist Party, which went on to form the intellectual backbone of New Labour, included such luminaries as journalist and academic Beatrix Campbell, who recently accepted an Order of the British Empire for services to, like, whatever. I imagine she was hoping for a seat in the House of Lords, complete with fetching ermine stole.
Twenty-five years is an eternity in politics.