“Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban,” wrote George Orwell in his unpublished preface to Animal Farm.
Informed by his support of anti-fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War, Orwell’s classic fable is a well-honed criticism of Stalinism, as represented by the rivalry between Napoleon (Stalin) and Snowball (Trotsky).
Lesser-known is the fact that Orwell’s book was initially considered unpublishable because of the British government’s war-time pact with Stalin. Hence Orwell argued that censorship in free societies was actually more insidious and thorough than in dictatorships.
“A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing [in the British media] either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”
One such unfashionable, yet genuinely democratic, opinion that is presently being much-maligned in the British media is the re-selection of elected political representatives: the modest proposition that parliamentary candidates should be held democratically accountable by their electorate.
So it is in keeping with Orwell’s comments that local political scientist, Dr Alistair Jones, in discussing “Threats of candidate de-selection” in the Labour Party (First-Person, December 28) argues that the proponents of the idea of de-selection are saying that those who oppose Jeremy Corbyn “must be eliminated.”
In an astounding demonstration of doublespeak, Dr Jones concludes: “Suddenly, George Orwell’s Animal Farm becomes a lot more real.”
Contrast this censorious fuming against unfashionable opinion with the slick and quietly passed-over Orwellian posturing exhibited by local Labour MP Keith Vaz.
On December 15, Vaz, posed in a photo with Tory MP Victoria Prentis when he donated the cost of a prosthetic leg to Singing for Syrians – a charity for whom Prentis is spearheading a campaign to provide artificial limbs for 30,000 Syrian children. This comes just weeks after both Vaz and Prentis voted for the bombing of Syria.
It is perhaps not unexpected that Prentis, as a newly elected Tory warmonger, would vote for bombing. She is after-all simply continuing a family tradition, as her father, Lord Boswell, had also proven to be a happy proponent of the destruction of Iraq during his former service as a Tory MP.
It could be argued, however, that Vaz should be held democratically accountable via the process of de-selection because his support for the bombing of Syria counted as a clear violation of a policy established at the Labour Party Conference earlier this year.
Needless to say, no-one is calling for any Labour politicians’ elimination. Instead, it just seems imminently sensible that elected political representatives, who steadfastly fail to represent their voters concerns, should be allowed to retire, to allow other local political candidates from the same Party to better represent the evolving and socialist political views of their members.