The Spectator is, and has been for many years, the leading conservative magazine in the United Kingdom. By ‘conservative’ I do not mean that it always supports the Conservative party (it has often had articles that have attacked the certain aspects of the Conservative party), but that the magazine opposes the socialist-social democratic forces that have dominated the United Kingdom for many decades (and it must be remembered that the basic cultural institutions of the United Kingdom remained under socialist-social democratic control even when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister).
However, it has long been a open secret in conservative and libertarian circles that The Spectator is often somewhat half hearted in its opposition to the “left” (for want of a better word). So one has to be careful about buying it. Under a poor editor, or even on a bad week in the time of a good editor, it may be little better than the BBC.
Last week I bought a copy of The Spectator. I wanted a change from the death-to-Israel, death-to-America line of all the television and radio stations and much of the print media in Britain (not that they have guts to just say ‘death-to-the-Jews’ of course – outlets like the BBC on the Daily Mail claim not to be anti Jewish in the slightest, it is just a matter of opposing the bad things that Israel does and opposing the backing of the United States gives to Israel).
The editor of The Spectator (Matthew d’Acona) may be a friend of the unprincipled David Cameron (present leader of the Conservative party), but he (like, to be fair, many of the people around Mr Cameron) is known to be pro-America and pro-Israel.
Also on the front cover of The Spectator it was advertised that Norman Tebbit had written an article. Tebbit was Chairman of the Conservative party when Margaret Thatcher was leader. He was always an independent man willing to argue with Mrs T. if need be, but always a loyal and honourable and was badly wounded by an IRA bomb (the same bomb left his wife paralysed and many other people dead) which led to his semi withdrawal from politics, thus leaving Margaret Thatcher exposed to the plots of her enemies. The Tebbit article was good (a polite demolition of Mr Cameron’s line of policy – too polite for my taste, but that is the way Norman Tebbit writes).
And there were other good articles in the magazine, however two very bad articles were present.
The first was by the ex Labour ‘minister for Europe’ (i.e. minister for the EU) Denis MacShane… Why an ex-Labour minister (who has not changed his beliefs) should be invited to write an article in a ‘conservative’ magazine is not clear. After all such opinions have many other outlets and people buy a conservative magazine in order to have a rest from such opinions. In this article Mr MacShane argued that Britain should have supported the Communists in the Spanish Civil War – although the words ‘Communists’ and ‘Communism’ were not present in the article. It was all about supporting ‘democracy’ you see. Even though it was perfectly clear that 1936 was to be the last time that anti-socialist candidates were going to be allowed to stand.
The armed revolt against the elected non-socialist government of Spain in 1934 was described as a “strike”, but the armed revolt against the elected Popular Front government of Spain in 1936 was very wicked – so wicked that Britain should have invaded Spain in order to defeat it. The fact that Winston Churchill supported Franco was mentioned, but the fact that this was because Churchill, correctly, believed that the new government of Spain was a tool of the Communists was left out.
The fact that Franco’s men killed lots of people was duly mentioned, but the fact that even ‘moderate’ leftist leaders wished to exterminate any owners of land or capital who resisted being robbed (and the people who really controlled the government wished to exterminate the owners of land or capital whether they resisted or not) was not mentioned. In fact a ‘Republican’ victory in the Spanish Civil War would have meant the extermination of all non-Reds (whether they owned property or not) – the ‘democratic’ leaders of the Popular Front government were a joke (as Churchill and others pointed out). Also a Red Spain would have (under the alliance between Stalin and Hitler – 1939-1941) have taken Gibraltar and closed the Med to Britain – thus handing over the Middle East (with its oil) to the totalitarian powers.
Instead Nationalist Spain (under Franco) made all sorts of excuses as to why it could not help Hitler just now. Just as Franco both smashed the various Red parties in Spain and castrated the Spanish Falangists – by making both the Falangists, the Carlists (and others) part of his ‘movement’. Franco may have often done the straight armed salute, but he saved more Jewish lives (by allowing refuge in Spain) than any other war time leader.
A Marxist Spain would not only have murdered many millions of Spanish people, it would also have led to the defeat of Britain in World War II – and the creation of what is called a ‘United Europe’ (many of the plans for European Economic and Monetary Union were drawn up by the National Socialists).
I do not know whether Mr MacShane is one of the many ex-communists who are in the present Labour government or not, but I do know that many ex-communists reacted to the fall of the Soviet Union by pinning their hopes on the European Union. What had failed on grand scale (collectivism), might succeed if done gradually – bit by bit, regulation by regulation.
A fantasy perhaps, but a popular one in certain leftist circles.
The other bad article was by Ron Liddle – and ex B.B.C. man who was sacrificed by that organization when the government got angry over B.B.C. over coverage of Iraq war related matters (specifically “Today” programme, the show Mr Liddle was in control of, coverage on Radio 4). Mr Liddle informs his readers that the United States fought a war against North Vietnam which was “supposedly communist”.
In fact Uncle Ho and the rest were communists (no “supposedly”) and the war was fought to defend the Republic of Vietnam (‘South Vietnam’) – if the US military had been ordered to overturn the regime in the north they would have done so. But President Johnson and associates favoured ‘limited war’ blood soaked games instead. ‘Victory’ was a dirty idea that was not to be countenanced. Like so many media and academia types Mr Liddle has forgotten about the ‘boat people’ and all the other things that happened in the late 1970’s (which in my innocent youth I thought might make even the elite reconsider their anti-Americanism).
Mr Liddle regards the “obsessive and wicked machinations” of the British Prime Minister in 1956 (Anthony Eden) against Nasser (dictator of Egypt) as even worse than Vietnam. The fact that Nasser had violated the agreement he had made with Britain (indeed with Eden personally) in 1954 (the agreement that led to Britain removing troops from the Suez Canal Zone) by taking over the Suez canal is not wicked, the fact that Nasser was brutal dictator who nationalized everything in sight (not just things owned by evil Europeans) and financed anti-Western violence all over the Middle East – that is not wicked either. But resisting Nasser (as Eden tried to do) that is what Mr. Liddle thinks is wicked. A standard ‘death to Britain’, ‘death to the West’ line that one expect from a leftist (which is sad in the case of Mr Liddle as he has shown in the past signs of dissent from a standard leftist line). Ally with anyone who is anti-British – even Nasser.
Mr Liddle also repeats the old myth that it was the United States that caused the Anglo-French (and Israeli) operation against Nasser to fail. There was a lack of support in the United States (the 1956 election was coming up – and ‘anti-colonialists’ like Nasser were still popular with a lot of morons) and there were indeed anti-British people in some parts of the government (such as Herbert Hoover Jr in the State Department). But neither Ike nor John Foster Dulles really wanted the operation to fail. The choice not to prop up the Pound would have made no difference (after all the British cabinet already knew that fixed exchange rates were not the only option – Rab Butler had told them some time before). It was really Harold Macmillan (not an American) who caused the failure of the Suez operation.
Macmillan had given strong support to the operation (one of the supposedly strongest supporters in cabinet), but at the key moment he (as Chancellor of the Exchequer) exaggerated Britain’s economic problems – Macmillan being both a brave man and a man to whom morality was a alien concept (both features that he shared with his henchman Edward Heath – although I think even ‘Super Mac’ would have drawn the line at Heath’s later support for Mao, the greatest mass murderer of all time.) had seen his chance to destroy and replace Eden – and had taken the chance with great skill.
Mr Liddle goes on to complain of United States lack of support for Britain in the Falklands war – citing Jeane Kirkpatrick’s support for the ‘fascist junta’. Leaving aside that the bunch of military drunks that made up the government of Argentina would have been rather unlikely to be able to define what ‘fascism’ is (I rather doubt that Mr Liddle knows much about the principles of Mussolini and the other Fascist writers either), in reality the United States did support Britain in the war – and American military support was vital. Overall Mr Liddle’s case is that the United States has no ‘special relationship’ with Britain and acts in its own interests.
The trouble with this case is that it is not true.
For example, the support that President Wilson showed for Britain in the First World War (for example complaining about German submarines, but not really about British mines and the hunger blockage Britain imposed on Germany) was not in the interests of the United States – on the contrary this one sided policy led to war with Imperial Germany (a country that was no threat to the United States) and the loss of over one hundred thousand American lives (to leave aside the financial losses).
Nor can FDR’s support for Britain in World War II be explained as somehow a matter of American ‘self interest’. National Socialist Germany (evil though it was) was, even if had forced Britain to make peace in 1940-41, in no position to invade the United States. The story (beloved of Daily Mail writers) that America opposed Nazi Germany for selfish reasons (and therefore British people have nothing to be grateful for) is simply not true.
Then there are little things like the support the Federal Reserve Board gave to the Bank of England in the 1920’s – support for the delusion that the Pound was still worth the same (in terms of Dollars) as it had been before the First World War. This support – the Fed’s support for an expansion of the American money supply in order to prop up the Pound’s exchange rate to the Dollar – led to the boom-bust cycle that ended in the Great Depression. The support was indeed based on the special relationship between Britain and the United States – specifically between key people in Britain and the United States (such as the Governor of the Bank of England and the Governor of Federal Reserve System in New York – B. Strong and M. Norman).
I am not saying that Mr Liddle is a dishonest man like Denis MacShane. But Mr Liddle has chosen to write an article about a subject (Anglo-American political history) which he does not know very much about.
And no one on the staff of The Spectator seems to know enough to spot the errors