Who says the poor aren't interested in the war?

The poor of Fallujah adore Tony Blair, but all you hear is the dinner-party crowd whining
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The Independent Online

It turns out, according to Peter Hain, that people saying they can't vote Labour because of the war are "sickening". Apparently they're indulgent "dinner-party types", while a Labour government is "desperately needed by the poor".

It turns out, according to Peter Hain, that people saying they can't vote Labour because of the war are "sickening". Apparently they're indulgent "dinner-party types", while a Labour government is "desperately needed by the poor".

He's found them out. That anti-war march of at least one million people - all dinner-party types. That's why the main chant was: "Let Hans Blix make one more visit - ooh, that sauce is just exquisite". And the first speech started: "Brothers and sisters, I have a message. We've had our dining room and reception space knocked into one, the builders were an absolute NIGHTMARE, but now that whole area just flows with natural light."

And it's the same in Iraq. The poor of Fallujah adore Tony Blair, but all you hear is the dinner-party crowd, whining "I'm SICK of this BLASTED occupation. Three weeks in a row I've had my yoga class cancelled because the instructor's been kidnapped."

Because the poor can't be bothered with middle-class issues such as war. I'm sure whenever Peter Hain walks through London, he's surrounded by the poor spluttering "I tell yer what Mister 'Ain, I don't know nuffin' abaht yer bloomin' geo-political foreign policy an' whatnot. But without yer working families tax credit we'd be up queer street an' no mistake. Good on yer Mister 'Ain."

Strangely, however, the constituency in which anti-war sentiment seems most threatening to Labour is Bethnal Green, where the Respect candidate, George Galloway, may beat the pro-war Labour MP. And, according to the Government's figures, Bethnal Green is the third poorest area of England. I suppose Bethnal Green is full of DINNER-PARTY poor. They spend their evenings round each others' houses, saying: "This cat food is DELICIOUS. You simply MUST give me the recipe."

Another peculiarity is why this trend should worry Peter Hain. There are more poor people than dinner-party types, so if the poor were buzzing with enthusiasm for the Labour Government they desperately need, the missing votes of the Islington middle classes wouldn't be noticed.

Maybe Hain's full speech was: "The poor desperately need a Labour Government, but unfortunately they're stupid. It should be obvious that our project is to defend the poor. That's why our best friends are Rupert Murdoch, Bernie Ecclestone, and Richard Desmond, the Hindujas, Richard Branson, and Balfour Beatty."

There was another part to Hain's complaint, which was to assure those who opposed the war that: "The Prime Minister has got the message". Which in the context of his speech comes across as if said by a character in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He might as well answer a question about the war with: "Hello, what's this? Another dinner-party bum-bandit giving it that about Iraq. Now listen, I've got yer message, so shut it or you'll be getting a little slap."

Hain has a record of dealing with opposition by talking gobbledegook. When a public-sector union voted by 5,000 against Hain's candidate to lead the Welsh Assembly, he blamed it on Trotskyists. But wouldn't someone have noticed 5,000 Welsh public-sector Trotskyists before?

Similarly, when the war on Iraq began, he said: "The French caused the war by voting against it." When asked to clarify this, he added: "The French have decided, by their veto, to not talk when the talk making war with their veto." The Government would have done better to have their policy explained by Po off Teletubbies. As it would have made more sense for the presenter to say: "Well, you've heard the case for war, 'Oh dear - can't find tubbytoast. WHO'S got the tubbytoast? DIPSY'S got tubbytoast' - so, Tam Dalyell, what have you got to say to that?"

And it's all a huge shame, because in his youth Hain was a brilliant campaigner, not just passionate but articulate. That may be his problem. People such as Blair and Mandelson, who've never inspired movements against authority, roll out their excuses unashamedly, which may be nonsense, but is usually coherent nonsense. But those who're from a radical background, like Prescott and Hain, try to make New Labour arguments while claiming they're still driven by old values. So they're pro-war, but only because they're following the same principles that once made them anti-war.

They may support uncritically the party of big business, but only because that party is desperately needed by the poor. And anyone who disagrees must obviously be from a dinner party. So by becoming a New Labour minister, not only has Hain ended up as a toerag, he's now unable to complete a single sentence without spouting a pile of indecipherable gibberish.

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