Labour stood with Churchill in 1940; it is time for them to do so again | Mario Laghos
In 1940 the Nazi war machine imperilled every soul on God’s green earth. The French were being roundly beaten, having been taken by surprise by the German Blitzkrieg; the Fascist forces of Italy were on the ascendency in North Africa, while Luftwaffe bombs rained mercilessly on London by day. Only Britain and its empire stood firm in the face of this existential evil. At the helm was Winston Churchill, a man of action, who by virtue of his sheer guts and determination led us to the final and ultimate victory over the Axis forces. There is little doubt Churchill is the greatest Conservative Prime Minister ever to live, and that the defeat of Nazism that he wrought expunges the crimes of his past, numerous though they are. Churchill did it all in the face of virulent opposition from his own party, from Chamberlain the appeaser to Lord Halifax the would-be peacemaker. This is not to mention the Nazi sympathisers embedded in the British aristocracy at that time, many of whom were in league with the British traitor, Oswald Mosley, all working against the war effort.
However, Churchill did not stand alone, by his side in the government of national unity sat one Clement Atlee, the best Labour Prime Minister we have ever had. Marching in lockstep, Left and Right, Left and Right, the two men steered this country though its darkest hour in a spirit of togetherness not seen before, or since. Labour’s contribution to the war effort, and the welfare state it birthed in the wake of war’s end, serve to mark the party’s finest hour. Some 80 years on the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square has fallen victim to repeated violent attack, and rather than defend it, the decision has been made to clad it with hoarding and scaffold. It now sits as some surrealist prison that even Terry Gilliam or Salvador Dhali would struggle to have dreamt up. The Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has barley uttered a word on the desecration of this historic monument, and the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has too remained eerily silent on this national embarrassment. Amidst the deafening silence all Labour voters must demand their party stand with Churchill, just as they did all those years ago.
Labour lost the last election, and lost it badly. It was their worse defeat since the 1930’s, and unlike 1983 this defeat marked the near total annihilation of their traditional working class strongholds. In order to win the next election, Labour will have to win 60 or more of these seats back, from Workington to Bolsover and beyond. These are seats with a deep-rooted patriotism, a feeling of identification with the nation and its rich history. But more than that these are seats which are home to vast numbers of military personnel of present and past service, and their families. This is a military which specifically targets the working class to enlist into its ranks. These brave warriors have an obvious affinity to the (now hoarded) Cenotaph, and to Churchill. That the Labour leadership can sit idly by, while its traditional voters to whom it has an existential duty to and win back are outraged and appalled by the ongoing vandalism is a strategic error of colossal proportions.
That said, the Labour party should not need coaxing on the basis of self-interest, because those on the side of Churchill are on the right side of history.
If the Labour party are concerned about losing support from anti-fascists, then there can be no recourse to action more obvious than a staunch defence of the world’s premiere antifascist; Churchill. It was after all Churchill who pioneered the allied assault into the Axis’ ‘soft underbelly’ of Italy, which led to the defeat of the world’s first Fascist government, and the execution of the world’s first Fascist leader, Mussolini. Any one who claims to be an anti-fascist, wielding paint cans and flares, setting out to attack the Cenotaph and Churchill is as much an anti-fascist as the Pope is a protestant.
It’s taken several days of sustained attack for our Prime Minister, and self-proclaimed Churchill admirer to become alert to, or at least be seen to be alert to, the ongoing attacks on our historic monuments. That the extent of his input is a Facebook post and a short bit on the Beeb is firstly shocking for a man who likes to draw parallels with himself and the late war hero, but secondly is a lack of action which begins to give credence to the ‘part time Prime Minister narrative’.
That said, while Boris is late to the battlefield, and has brought too few troops, Keir Starmer is Missing in Action.
According to the Daily Mail (yes, I know) the hoarding is a move introduced by the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. How a Labour mayor of the city of London could countenance such an act, such a dereliction of duty is beyond comprehension. If not for Churchill the city which we now all enjoy would have been reduced to a smouldering pile of ruins, from which the occupation and imposition of Nazism would have risen like a phoenix from the ashes.
All this and the Labour leader is no where to be seen, has nothing to say, and no course of action to suggest. This sudden abandonment of his post as a ‘leader’ is indicative of a trend of behaviour evident in Keir which I have pointed out several times before. What he says to win power, and what he does with it, are two different things. He promised the Labour membership he would be pro-European, and doubled down on having pushed for a second referendum during the 2019 General Election. Upon assuming power, he puts the issue to bed with alarming alacrity. He promises to support the government, and as soon as they trip up, he pounces like a hyena on wounded prey. He promised to earn trust back with red wall voters, loyal Labour voters with a strong affinity to Mr Churchill and all he represents, and now in his time of need, he has fled the scene.
Labour stood with Churchill in 1940 and it was their finest hour. If they had the courage to do so again, they might be once again as beloved as they once were. But with the deficit in leadership on either side of the political aisle, I won’t be holding my breath.
Photo by Arthur Osipyan on Flickr.