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In partial defence of two Red Princes

Over the last two days two scions of notable political families have attracted controversy related to the referendum.

In a leaked telephone call, Will Straw, Remain campaign director and son of Jack Straw, said the following:

“We need to recognise that people have been pulled up short by Jo Cox’s death and it is now time to make a very positive case for why we want to be in the European Union… to call out the other side for what they have done to stir division and resentment in the UK. That is something we must all do… This is what we think is the closing argument of the campaign, reflecting all the arguments that we have been setting out for many months but also the new context that we’re in. What we want to say is people should vote Remain on Thursday for more jobs, lower prices, workers’ rights, stronger public services and a decent, tolerant United Kingdom.”

I see little to condemn there. He is a political campaign manager: deciding how to adapt his campaign message to best take advantage of recent events is what he is paid for. I do resent how the Remain side has smeared the Leavers as somehow responsible for the doings of a deranged neo-Nazi, but what was Straw meant to do, ignore it? Does anyone think his counterpart on the Leave side was not similarly briefing his team on how to minimize the fallout?

Stephen Kinnock MP, son of Neil Kinnock, has also been the subject of angry comment. At the ceremony – basically a secular memorial service – held in Parliament to honour Jo Cox he was one of very few MPs to depart from the consciously bipartisan tone. While wearing (unless my eyes deceive me) an “In” campaign badge, he said,

“I can only imagine Jo’s reaction had she seen the poster unveiled hours before her death – a poster on the streets of Britain that demonised hundreds of desperate refugees, including hungry terrified children fleeing from the terror of Isis and Russian bombs. She would have responded with outrage and a robust rejection of the calculated narrative of cynicism, division and despair that it represents.”

That catch in his voice was not faked. Jo Cox was his personal friend. It seems probable that she was murdered for political reasons. (The likelihood that the killer had mental problems makes that no less true.) It must have seemed urgent to speak for her when she could no longer speak for herself. He still should have stood firm against the temptation to make a political point at that time and place. To do so struck in its own way at the very thing he said he wanted to preserve: the sense across all parties that, as Jo Cox herself said, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

Mr Kinnock’s speech did not play well among the Independent‘s commenters.

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19 comments to In partial defence of two Red Princes

  • I have noticed from perusing Facebook that people who wept at the killing of Jo Cox by a deranged Brit seem disappointed another deranged Brit didn’t succeed in his attempt to kill Donald Trump. I’m rather old fashioned in thinking political assassinations by mentally-ill people aren’t made better or worse depending on the politics of the target.

  • bobby b

    This is a reasoned and temperate statement that treats your political opposition as well-meaning, thinking folk with a point of view that happens to differ from your own.

    You just don’t GET the internet, do you?

  • Patrick Crozier

    Is there any case of an assassination making the world a better place? Apologies if I am going a bit OT.

    I can’t help noticing that whenever there is a political killing these days the perpetrator is described as mental and that before the First World War – when there were a lot of assassinations – the perpetrators were also routinely described as mental.

    In the case of the First World War the mentals won.

  • Mr Ed

    I thiught the pre-WWI targeted murders (give the Assassins their trademark) were in the main called ‘Anarchists’, i.e. Socialists too frenzied to plan their mass killings come the Revolution.

  • PeterT

    I couldn’t find the link, but Breitbart did a copy and paste job on all the death threats to Nigel Farage posted on twitter/facebook. There must have been hundreds; truly astounding. It would be nice if everybody could agree that nobody should threaten to kill anybody else, even in jest.

  • Laird

    PeterT, that would put Jeff Dunham out of business.

  • Mr Ed

    Patrick,

    Is there any case of an assassination making the world a better place?

    Fanny Kaplan is a great ‘what might (not) have been’, I suppose.

    In English law, her act could not have been excused as defence of self or others.

    Heydrich?
    Caesar?

    And (albeit a suicide), Allende?

  • Patrick Crozier

    Caesar. Assassinated to prevent an empire. Result: an empire.
    Heydrich. The only big difference I can think of was the Lidice massacre. Unless you know different, of course.

    It’s a struggle isn’t it?

  • Lee Moore

    it is now time to make a very positive case for why we want to be in the European Union… to call out the other side for what they have done to stir division and resentment in the UK.

    The dots may conceal some deeper reasoning but this seems to be more of the same, ie :

    “We will take the high road and not descend into filthy divisive abuse. Let us remain above the antics of the filthy divisive abusers on the other side.”

  • Mr Ed

    Patrick,

    The two theories about Heydrich’s killing that I know of were:

    1. He was killed to stir up a reprisal and thus kick-start Czech resistance, which would be shameful.

    2. He was killed as he might have been a danger due to his competence and ruthlessness in intelligence or counter-intelligence (with the SD etc.) and had he got a bit more promotion, might have made the SS and the Germans more effective. But then again, would Himmler have tolerated his ascent?

  • NickM

    Heydrich was an unbelievable cunt. He deserved to die. You can’t blame the Czechs for what the NAZIs did afterwards. Heydrich in any case would have done much the same.

    You cannot blame the Czechs or SOE for what the NAZIS did anymore than blame any other resistance force.

    When I visited Prague I just happened across the street from where his assassins were finally cornered. I looked at the plaque and I had a moment with it. Just bowed my head.

  • When I visited Prague I just happened across the street from where his assassins were finally cornered. I looked at the plaque and I had a moment with it. Just bowed my head.

    Yup. Been there, done that. I agree completely.

    And the Nazi fucker died in agony from the wounds they gave him. Poetic.

  • Mr Ed

    That catch in his voice was not faked. Jo Cox was his personal friend. It seems probable that she was murdered for political reasons. (The likelihood that the killer had mental problems makes that no less true.)

    He is a socialist. If he is like most socialists, then he woukd put.

    THE CAUSE

    before

    THE PARTY

    before

    ANY SENSE OF HUMANITY OR DECENCY.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Patrick Crozier- I saw a British show recently which suggested that Julius had an incurable illness, so he arranged to be killed, so that his name would live on forever. If so, it worked!

  • Chester Draws

    Positive assassination: Admiral Blanco.

    His death brought Spain back to democracy much quicker and had more or less no ill side effects.

    That he was killed by the c***s of ETA doesn’t mean it wasn’t a very useful outcome.

  • It is worth comparing Leave’s reaction if there was (or is) another terrorist attack close to home. (I say close to home because Leave seem to me to be exploiting Orlando less than they could have – this is not a criticism, and may be a mistaken impression.)

    A key difference in fact is that a terrorist attack would (very probably) be done by someone legally sane, who planned it well in advance. By contrast, Jo Cox was killed by a man who went to the health centre the night before for help with his depression and was told “make an appointment; come back the next day”. He was planning to avoid, not to commit. If he’d been given an antidepressant, very likely this would never have happened. (Note: I do not know enough for this to be a criticism of the health centre; maybe their decision would have been the right one 99.9% of the time.) As his subscription to a weird magazine was cancelled ten years ago, maybe it was taken out in another mad fit, and cancelled when he recovered. He may be only far-right (or far-whatever) nor-nor-west.

    As Burke remarks, “Deliberate injuries require deliberate precautions to prevent their recurrence”. Many have pointed out the essential randomness of madness. If a clear nutter who merely chanced to be of arab origin did something swiftly disavowed as “not consistent with islam” by true representatives of extreme islam (and who were not blatantly practicing taqiyya), then I’d hope we’d have enough honesty to notice that (and enough sense to see how many more just cases we could talk about instead).

    Insofar as my hope is valid, we have just cause to despise Remain’s exploitation of a madman. Insofar as some in Leave would use any grist that came to their mill, there would be a resemblance to Remain. Up to now, there has been a marked shortage of legally sane killers on our side (I could have written just ‘of killers’); the promised ‘backlash’, against which the left take such precautions, is ever so quiet compared to the violence of those they excuse. As to what will happen if Remain win, and within ten years we are treated as Merkel treats Germany, who knows; I guess the ratio would still be very lopsided – as it is now even when Remain count madmen.

    I agree with Natalie that the question, “What would we do different if the case were reversed?” is a healthy one to reflect on.

  • Cal

    The idea that Leave have created a murderous climate is just a lie. Anyone who suggests this is lying for political gain.

    Islamic killers, on the other hand, are strongly encouraged to murder non-Islamic Westerners by explicitly murderous Islamic groups. There’s just no comparison.

  • NickM

    Niall,
    The thing is he’d almost certainly done it if he had been given an antidepressant there and then. They don’t work overnight – if they work. Admission to a secure unit might have prevented the killing. Who knows?

    Quite a few Islamist terrorists are mentally ill and/or have learning difficulties. Quite a few. Consider Richard Reid. He wasn’t playing with a full deck.

  • Watchman

    Mr Ed,

    You know it is possible to have socialists who just believe socialism might work, but are otherwise perfectly normal humans? Dehumanising your enemies by claiming they are driven by a cause above all else is exactly the sort of mindset that leads to abuse and murder, and is something we should be above – you win by producing better arguments (not difficult against socialists…), not by trying to make your opponents inhuman. If you do that you become no different than those socialists that actually do put the cause first…