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Sunday, November 02, 2003


Who is Oliver Kamm? I only ask because he appears to have heard of me and apparently reads this blog. I have now had a chance to catch up with my on-line reading after coming back from my short sojourn and it seems that Ollie really has it in for me. Phrases such as "I will put this in simple terms because Mr Black is clearly a simple man." and "Peter Black is indeed a minor Lib Dem and clearly not a very bright one" indicates that he obviously knows me quite well and yet we have never met!

Reading through Mr. Kamm's blog it seems that he really does not like Liberal Democrats. He also considers himself to have a superior intellect, which he underlines at every point by the way he belittles his targets. What he actually has is a point of view that is no more legitimate than any other though I have no confidence that he will see this point.

Mr. Kamm is objecting to my posting on Thursday 23 October headed "Control Freakery." In that posting I wrote "The expulsion of George Galloway from the Labour Party for expressing his opinions about the Iraq war and his Party Leader is another example of over-the-top control freakery by that party. Is it now the case that dissent of any kind is not to be tolerated by New Labour? Have they not learnt their lessons from disasters in the past? It seems not. New Labour now appears more Stalinist than Old Labour and that is saying something." Now, I admit that fitting in writing this blog around everything else I do is not always easy and that sometimes I do not explain myself very well, so for the sake of Mr. Kamm I will try to be clearer about my views on George Galloway.

I have no brief for George Galloway. I do not agree with the vast majority of his publicly expressed views nor his politics, particularly in regards to Stalin, the Soviet Union or Saddam Hussein. It matters not to me whether he stays in the Labour Party or fights as an independent. I really do not care whether he is expelled from the Labour Party or not, that is their business. However, it is worth noting that he was not expelled for his self-professed support of the Soviet Union nor for the fact that he allegedly defends Joseph Stalin as proposed by The Independent's Political Columnist, Johann Hari on his blog. George Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party for 1) inciting Arabs to fight British troops 2) inciting British troops to defy orders 3) threatening to stand against Labour and 4) backing an anti-war candidate in Preston. We need therefore to deal with the facts rather than with Mr. Kamm's personal distaste for George Galloway.

Labour, like any mainstream political party is a broad church. It encompasses a wide range of views including communists, socialists and social democrats. Unlike Peter Marriner, whose story Mr. Kamm recounts, George Galloway fitted squarely within the tradition and principles of such a Labour Party. New Labour has sought to narrow that broadness in recent years by increasing intolerance towards dissenting and embarassing voices. A number of other MPs expressed views similar to Mr. Galloway but they have not been expelled, possibly because they have not had such a high profile or such a consistent record of dissent. It seems therefore that this particular expulsion is about more than the opinions of one individual. It is about suppressing debate within the Labour Party. That is something we have had experience of in Wales both locally and in relation to the leadership of the Welsh Labour Party.

It seems to me that the fact that, as Private Eye reports, the Labour NEC sent out letters detailing Galloway's expulsion so quickly that they must have been written and prepared before the final decision was taken, that the grounds for expulsion are largely spurious in that they have either been plausibly denied or they apply to other non-expelled Labour Party members and MPs, and that New Labour are now free of an embarassment who did not fit into the Millbank culture of spin and control, indicates that my charges of control freakery and the failure to tolerate dissent are legitimate. The use of Stalinist may have been unwise but in the context of a general understanding of that word as one that denotes a certain style of party management rather than the wider interpretation put on it by Mr. Kamm, it still seems a fair description. Labour in Wales have a long history of intolerant Party management, centralism and arrogance. New Labour in London are continuing that tradition.

Not sure if I agree but a good, considersed response always seems to illuminate. You certainly have points, well put, which I salute. Apologies if you deemed anything personal; blog banter was more my intention.

Matthew May 2 November 2003
No offence taken Matthew, my response was largely blog banter too
Who is Oliver Kamm?" asks Peter Black on his weblog.

Oliver Kamm. He da man!

Check out his political pedigree: http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2003/09/the_liberal_dem.html

David Collins 4 November 2003
Yeh OK, I was being ironic :-)
Political blogs are sadly often used for point-scoring and knocking opposing views (especially in the States) That's why I don't read too many of them. They are also a bit of an ego-boost for the blogger .Therefore your question "Who is Oliver Kamm?" is possibly the most wounding remarks you can make in this circumstance.....Keep the irreverent and humorous bits and don't let this sort of thing deter you... Best Regards Chris Black 4 November 2004
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