Daily catch-up: What's good about Stop the War? The name. What's bad? Everything else

Plus an isochronic map of the world in 1881, showing distances in time from London

John Rentoul@JohnRentoul
Monday 07 December 2015 10:25
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Isochronic map of the world in 1881, showing distance in travelling time from London, by Francis Galton, the statistician and eugenicist. From David M Luebke at the University of Oregon, via Ed Rogers. Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne, had been published in 1873, possibly inspired by George Francis Train's circumnavigation in 80 days in 1870. Nellie Bly made the trip in 72 days in 1889-90.

• For those who are not aware of the history of the Stop the War Coalition, an SWP front co-founded by Jeremy Corbyn to oppose action, supported by nearly every nation in the world, against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, Kate Godfrey provides a superb guide.

Stop the War is opposed to any military action by any democratic country, no matter how just the case. Last year, it opposed British air strikes against Isis in Iraq, which were requested by the Iraqi government. Labour under Ed Miliband supported the action. Only 45 MPs opposed it, including Corbyn and Diane Abbott.

That was why John Woodcock, the Labour MP for Barrow, asked Corbyn a question in last Wednesday's debate on Syria:

John Woodcock: I am glad that my right hon. Friend has mentioned the Kurds. Could he be clear at the Dispatch Box that neither he, nor anyone on these Benches, will in any way want to remove the air protection that was voted on with an overwhelming majority in the House 14 months ago?

Jeremy Corbyn: I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. That is not part of the motion today, so we move on with this debate.

Abbott had apparently forgotten that she voted against when asked about it by David Dimbleby on BBC Question Time on Thursday (from 7mins 46secs). She said air strikes in Iraq as opposed to Syria were "quite different" and "legal" and finally (at 9mins 18secs) said of the strikes in Iraq: "Of course it's right."

Let us hope that Corbyn is asked the same question in every interview until he answers it.

• Some people expected last week's Oldham by-election to be the end of Corbyn. Instead, it was the end of UKIP. My column for The Independent on Sunday.

• The Top 10 in The New Review, the Independent on Sunday magazine, was Worst Christmas Songs. This was controversial. I didn't have space for "I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek", by The Go-Go's, 1964, nominated by David Pollard. It is a thing of dreadfulness, but I restricted my list to well-known horrors. I also excluded two fictional entries from Bethan Sidoli: "Santa's Super Sleigh" from About A Boy, and "Christmas Is All Around" from Love Actually. I also rejected Ruth Muirhead's suggestion of "What Are We Gonna Get For ‘Er Indoors?", Dennis Waterman and George Cole, 1983, on the grounds that it has some quite clever word play.

• And finally, they are coming thick and fast now, vying to get in the year's Top 10. This from a friend of Paul Park's:

"The Navy captain was upset his old carrier was sold for scrap. They grounded the warship he walked on."

A gem from Andy Hutchcraft:

"I repeatedly asked the life model why she didn't want me to sketch her, but she refused to be drawn."

And this from Alan Machnik:

"Yesterday I was asked if I could name a famous Syrian.

"I said McKellen."

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