Debate with the Restart the War Coalition

John Rentoul

chris nineham 279x300 Debate with the Restart the War CoalitionThanks to Michael Ezra at Harry’s Place for writing up my encounter with Chris Nineham (right) on Radio 2 yesterday.

Chris Nineham is from the Stop the War Coalition and a former leading activist within the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. John Rentoul, Tony Blair’s biographer, had the misfortune of having to debate with Nineham on BBC Radio 2. (The debate is available on You Tube)

Rentoul and Nineham were discussing the decision of Tony Blair to donate the advance and any future royalties he receives  from his memoirs to the Royal British Legion. Below I copy an extract of the words from Rentoul to which I can only say, “Hear, hear.”

It is certainly extraordinary, sad and tragic that the media, including the BBC, have responded quite so viciously [to Tony Blair's decision] and is giving airtime to people like Chris Nineham….

The SWP was not against the war, it was in favour in the war, it was in favour of Saddam winning the war, and it was in favour of the British losing. So I don’t think he has got  any authority to speak on this subject whatsoever. And I think we should just pay our respects to the bravery of  British soldiers who carry out their professional duty in a democracy as decided by parliament in the appropriate way. And  people who disagree with this decision should perhaps keep quiet for a day or two.

When Jane Hill, for the BBC, made the point that it was not just the Stop the War Coalition, but that  there were also some service families who felt similarly, Rentoul noted:

An unrepresentative minority of service families … are grievously exploited by the SWP and their allies in the Stop the War Coalition. I think the vast majority of service families understand that a professional army carries out its duty as best  it can according to the democratic decisions made by a democratic government in the country.

And thanks to Andrew Murphy for adding this quotation from George Orwell, from Notes on Nationalism, 1945:

Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries.

Photograph of Chris Nineham from Birds of War

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  • aardvark10

    John Rentoul’s obsessions, from his support for Blair, to the Daily Mail, the actual numbers killed in Iraq, and his attempt to portray anyone now opposing the war as a wild extremist (or flies, as John Justice would have it) are there for all to see, and the more he rants on the more extreme and pathetic he himself becomes.
    Why he doesn’t understand the fundamental fact that millions of non-extremists actually supported the war until they realised that Blair had misled them. There were no WMDs and the evidence that there was was flimsy, and there was no 45 minute threat, Surely no normal person can watch the recordings of Blair’s speeches at the time and the evidence produced since and not come to the conclusion that Blair had lied. The same people are now really puzzled as to why we are not invading other more threatening countries.

  • Neil

    As you well know, Blair was a poodle, a mere middle manager and public relations officer for conglomerate of vested corporate and military interests. His electoral success was engineered and the alternative, the Tories, hardly appealing to most informed citizens. So which policies did Labour Supporters approve of? Deregulating gambling? Outsourcing industry? Dumbing down our kids and creating a generation of misfits. Expanding surveillance? Invading foreign countries? Lying about the real reasons for war? Come off it. Even Hitler got elected. (33% in the last vaguely free elections in November 1932, 43% after the Reichstag Fire (which wasn’t an inside job of course) and 99% in a subsequent plebiscite. What did Blair get 35% out of a 61% tunrout (that’s err 27% of the electorate)?

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