Dr Simon Bennett’s Tall Tales

“Let me tell you a story,” wrote Dr Simon Bennett earlier this week, in a confused first-person column in the Leicester Mercury (May 9) titled “Why hard left is a threat to Labour Party.”

“Long, long ago” he recalled, socialists “dressed in black” criticised right-leaning members of the Labour Party’s leadership. They also had the cheek to sell copies of a “faux newspaper” called The Militant – a paper which coincidently was entirely funded by the working class with no corporate backers.

Of these shadowy socialist activists, who went helped lead the successful campaign of mass defiance against the hated Poll Tax, he claims “some had gone to public school,” and “some… made tasteless jokes about Jews” — jokes of “the sort that Northern comedians used to make.”

Allegedly these activists “thought it legitimate to side unquestionably with anyone opposed to the State of Israel.” (Not true again.)

Who wouldn’t have “despised” “Militant’s thinly-veiled anti-Semitism” if what Dr Bennett wrote in the Mercury had the slightest element of truth to it.

“With nothing positive to say,” Dr Bennett continued, these “pernicious” activists “peddled hate – of the rich and of those who aspired to be so” (wrong); and “during the 1980s rendered the Labour Party unelectable” (wrong again).

The clue that Dr Bennett had penned a shocking tale of fiction should have been clear from his less than imaginative opening: “Let me tell you a story. Long, long ago…” Or one might look to his earlier articles published in the Mercury that make such bold claims as saying that the UK has been taken over by “the cancer of pacifism”?!

On the issue of Labour’s electability, someone should tell Dr Bennett that during the 1980s working-class members of the Militant (now Socialist Party) helped lead a successful campaign as elected members of Liverpool City Council that saw their electoral base increase year on year as they mobilised tens of thousands of people in the streets to oppose Tory cuts.

Note, that this local success story in Liverpool went against the grain of the negative trend that defined the Labour Party across most of the rest of the country, as the Party was led to a series of serious electoral defeats by the ever rightward moving Neil Kinnock, moves which served to pave the way for the wholly predictable failures of Tony Blair’s “New Labour.”

Socialist Party, formerly Militant, has been at the forefront of antiracist struggles for the last fifty years. We have campaigned actively against divisions, ethnic and religious, across society.

Far-fetched tales may be all the rage in Hollywood, but have no place in the Mercury’s first-person column.

Dr Simon Bennett and Neil Kinnock

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