Lefties are somehow assumed to be doing things for idealistic reasons, and for the collective good, and their high motives excuse their appalling solutions. That is why the servants of communist tyranny get sympathetic obits, and modern British girls wear CCCP T-shirts, and that is why a Labour Government can enact a series of authoritarian measures that a Conservative government could not contemplate
Why do these mass-murdering commies get such a good press?
It is not given to us to know whither the Almighty has dispatched the soul of Melita Norwood, who died quietly last week in Bexleyheath at 93. Whether she is reading her obits from above or below, I reckon she will be pretty pleased. There she is, sniffing a rose, or smiling with hair-clipped innocence, like some author of wholesome books for children. Her deeds are reported in the affectionate tones that obituarists reserve for the practitioners of some romantic but moribund faith. She might be the last speaker of old Cornish, or the last person to have consecrated her life to proving that Stonehenge was built by spacemen as an observatory for the study of worms.
As it happens, she was "the most important British female spy ever recruited by the KGB". From the 1930s she used her position as a secretary at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association to pass ever more vital atom secrets to Stalin's Soviet Union. In other words, she was a tool for one of the most murderous regimes ever seen, and continued blissfully betraying this country throughout the Cold War, and, as she later admitted, in full knowledge of Stalin's slaughter. File after file she shovelled to her KGB handlers, to the point where she is credited by some with accelerating Russia's acquisition of nuclear weapons by two years. She was only unmasked in 1999, thanks to the testimony of a Soviet defector; and after a brief hubbub it was decided by the then home secretary, Jack Straw (himself a former Trot), that at 87 she was too old to prosecute. I do not quarrel with that decision, but there is something in the eirenic tone of her valedictions that reminds me of the amazing indulgence we show - now that communism is meant to be dead - to commies, socialists and Lefty tyrants of all kinds.
Cycling through London, I check out the words on people's T-shirts, and I was amused the other day to see the letters CCCP
on someone's chest. Yup, folks, that's what the fashion-conscious British youth is wearing, a celebration of the great doomed Soviet experiment of 1917-90.
Remind me: who was the greater mass murderer, Stalin or Hitler? Well, Stalin is thought to have been responsible for about 50 million deaths, and Hitler for a mere 25 million. What Hitler did in his concentration camps was equalled if not exceeded in foulness by the Soviet gulags, forced starvation and pogroms. What makes the achievements of communist Russia so special and different, that you can simper around in a CCCP T-shirt, while anyone demented enough to wear anything commemorating the Third Reich would be speedily banged away under the 1986 Public Order Act?
Just to prove my theory that commie tyranny was still chic, I sent a Spectator assistant to Camden Lock market, and she returned shining-eyed, with tales of hammer and sickle T-shirts, and laden with badges of the foremost commie creeps of history. There was a badge of Lenin - good old Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. He was responsible for killing about five million people, but a Lenin badge is obviously cool, as cool as hanging out and showing your midriff in the new chain of vodka bars called "Soviet". She had a badge of Castro. Charismatic old Fidel. Yours to pin to your nipple for only £1.99.
Now will someone explain the moral difference between enthusiasm for Fidel Castro and enthusiasm for Augusto Pinochet? Both are appalling Latin American dictators. Both have bad human rights records. Both have had their misdeeds winked at, one way or another, by Uncle Sam. Tell me, O ye coolers and groovers, why is it OK to wear a badge with Fidel on it, but very much not OK to wear a badge showing Pinochet?
There is only one man in Britain who might even consider wearing a Pinochet badge on his lapel, and that is Norman Lamont, and much as I admire Norman I would not describe him as cool. Even more extraordinary than badges of Lenin for sale in London, I read that Lefty tyrant chic is to be found in the territories once tyrannised by Russia.
How is it possible that in Lithuania there is now a Stalin theme park, complete with 13 giant effigies of Lenin (remember: he killed five million)? Why is it somehow post-modern and ironic and slick to commemorate these thugs, while any theme park in honour of the Nazis would be rightly denounced as mad and in the height of bad taste? Why is it so obvious to everyone that Melita should be left to a quiet old age in Bexleyheath - with not even a whiff of a prosecution - when we continue to chivvy out every last collaborator with the Nazis, now matter how decrepit, and herd them into the courts?
Remember the case of that nonagenarian Italian who was finally arraigned last year, at vast expense and with extreme evidential difficulty. On the first day of the trial the prisoner was asked to identify himself by the judge, and promptly expired. I do not say that we are wrong in hounding these relics of fascism; my point is that we are curiously indifferent to the behaviour of their extreme Left-wing counterparts, and that in general the Left is able to get away with things that would otherwise be viewed as nauseating and shameful.
Why, to put it bluntly, is Labour allowed to get away with all this? Imagine the howls of hate, if a Conservative government had spent the past few weeks eroding the right to trial by jury, abolishing habeas corpus, curtailing free speech, and then slapped on the plastic poll tax - the ID card. Lefties are somehow assumed to be doing things for idealistic reasons, and for the collective good, and their high motives excuse their appalling solutions.
That is why the servants of communist tyranny get sympathetic obits, and modern British girls wear CCCP T-shirts, and that is why a Labour Government can enact a series of authoritarian measures that a Conservative government could not contemplate. I cannot explain this injustice: I merely point it out.