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I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
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Friday, September 30, 2005
I often like to muse on how vastly superior I am compared to those younger and older than myself. Compared to the rising generation I am better educated, have better morals and more elevated pleasures, and am more honest and peaceable. Compared to the old I have fewer grey hairs and smoother skin. And I can do sit ups, which a lot of them can't, you know.
Despite my evident superiority I do try to see these crumpled-looking creatures as fellow human beings (fellow citizens, even!) with the same rights and duties as the rest of us.
Do you think I am over-optimistic? Would it be more realistic of me to think that, like toddlers, old people should be ignored when their bellowing disrupts social functions?
Along with half the country, the leadership of the Labour party seems to think so. I didn't see, either on film or in person, Walter Wolfgang being ejected from the Labour conference, so I don't know if the amount of force used was reasonable or not. (Perhaps I still wouldn't know even if I had seen it; like sporting fouls these things are difficult to judge from outside.) If the fulsome apologies coming from the Labour leadership are for excessive force used upon an elderly man then apologies are right and proper. However from what I have heard they are apologising for the ejection itself.
Why? Surely the Labour party is entitled to set the rules for its own conference. If the rules specify "no heckling" then hecklers old or young must expect to be ejected - although the stewards should be careful to use no more force than is absolutely necessary, and be doubly careful if the heckler is old or frail.
But that wasn't the only way in which the apology seemed misdirected. Buried in the story and not, at first, attracting much comment was one thing that left me flabbergasted. For this Tony Blair and his entire government should get down on their knees and humbly beg forgiveness, swearing at the same time not to rest until the harm they have allowed to flourish is undone:
Police later used powers under the Terrorism Act to prevent Mr Wolfgang's re-entry, but he was not arrested.