Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Thursday, May 27, 2004
 
This searchlight does not illuminate. Wednesday's Indy contained an article by Johann Hari (not available online so far as I know) warning us against voting UKIP because some of the candidates have racist connections. Some of his charges struck home, but I was surprised to see him quote as an authority the "anti-fascist" magazine Searchlight.

I remember Searchlight when it was mimeographed, yes mimeographed, on yellow paper. Like Oliver Kamm (scroll down to see why the link is relevant) I used to go to Anti-Nazi League demonstrations in the late 1970s and early 80s, and I often picked up a copy from the vendors who moved through the crowds. I thought the tone was a bit odd, even then; sort of messianic. If I didn't immediately figure out that it was an unadmitted organ of the Socialist Workers Party that's only because I was a sweet little kid who didn't dream of such sneakiness.

Let me put it this way. I have it from sources at least as authoritative as Searchlight itself* that the only members of Searchlight's staff who can spell are the MI5 agents. While it ought to be reassuring that the extreme left, like the extreme right, is heavily penetrated by the sterling boys and girls of our intelligence and security services, I can't help remembering that Hitler first joined the Nazis to spy on them on behalf of the Weimar authorities.

A LATER THOUGHT: I went home from those Anti-Nazi League demos more sceptical than when I arrived. My desire to be anti the Nazis was unshaken, but I couldn't help noticing that nearly all the posters were made by the Socialist Workers Party, and what I read of the literature that the ever present SWP members handed out did not impress. Northern Irish issues were big then, and they were into redefining the Irish as "Black", on the grounds that they were oppressed. Naive though I was I had a feeling that neither real blacks nor real Irishmen would see this analysis as a useful contribution to debate. In addition, at these demos people would pass round buckets collecting for various causes, including pro-IRA organisations. Most people did not contribute but the buckets were not empty, as I damn well thought they should have been. These days the Stop The War coalition fills the same role as the ANL did then. The effect of the vast anti-war demos may not be quite what the organisers expect.

*Perhaps it'll keep me out of the libel courts if I concede that that ain't saying much.