Monday, March 27, 2006

Politics behind the Windbreaker

I never did get round to writing about Blair's first foreign policy speech. He's made the second one now and there are two sentence in it which say everything about the way Blair constructs his arguments.
Inactivity is just as much a policy, with its own results. It's just the wrong one.
*Takes deep breath*

I agree. That shocked you.

The thing is, Blair, as we all know, loves to "manage the debate". The above is a small perfectly formed example of that in action. Those who are his loyal supporters probably don't even see how it's done. Well, it's like this.

In this example of Blair's managed debating, there are two options. The first is activity and the second is inactivity. The insinuation is clearly that those who oppose his foreign policies are in the latter camp. If you stop and think about this, you'll quickly realise that it's an absurd simplification. Many people who disagree with Blair's policies do not advocate inactivity. For Blair, debating these issues properly is too much like hard work. He, like his friend across the water, likes the whole with me or against me thing (although Blair is considerably more subtle). In Blair's world, if you don't agree with him, you fit into a neat strawman he's built to describe his opponents. That's very handy. But it's not got anything to do with the real world.

In the real world, you'll find that probably millions of Britons do not support inactivity but still think some or all of the activities Blair supports are wrong. Blair has managed these people out of existence. He can do this because he relies so heavily on set piece speeches where no-one can come back and say "hang on a minute, isn't that a childish, cheap and misleading simplification designed to make your way look like the only way which makes sense?". That's why he needs to be so thoroughly cocooned from the electorate. One of them might have the audacity to point this out. That's why he loves a set piece speech where he can build these strawmen unchallenged. That's why pewople say he is bad for democracy.

But these are only two sentences, you say. To that I say, read the rest of his speech, and the previous one, and you'll see that he does it all the time. Those who disagree, he implies, do not support democratic values. Those who disagree want a closed society. Those who disagree are in rage with the modern world. Those who disagree are not prepared to do what is necessary to defend our way of life. Perhaps most ridiculously of all, those who disagree do not believe in the "very idea of multilateral action to achieve common goals". Where does he get this crap?

And then there's the usual smear that those who disagree with big George don't like America. Perhaps it's time for another series of "I like America" posts. I'll do TV first. I like the Simpsons, Family Guy, Scrubs (although it did seem to be getting slightly sentimental as it progressed), the Daily Show, My Name is Earl (I actually loved that, outstanding it was), and American Dad. And that's just a few comedy shows off the top of my head (I've even called them shows, not programmes). But I don't like President Bush's policies. And I don't think President Bush is America.

So, Mr Blair, why don't you take your army of crudely built strawmen, arrange them in a circle, sit in the middle, and we'll all come along to watch a lovely bonfire? Wouldn't that be great?

After that's done, we could start with some proper politics instead of this stupid monologue nonsense. That'd be good for democracy. You, Tony Blair, are most certainly not.

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