Unstintingly generous with others, Tony Blair’s New Labour were sternly austere with themselves. While toiling to create thousands of new laws and regulations for the rest of us, for themselves they had a single stark and simple rule: “To the pure in heart, all things are permitted.” And who in New Labour came purer-hearted, or more self-permissive, than the Rt. Hon. Denis MacShane, né Matyjascek, a Privy Councillor, “informal envoy” to Tony Blair, and quondam Member of Parliament for the Yorkshire constituency of Rotherham? Saluted as an “old comrade” by a fellow Oxonian, the Trotskyist/neo-conservative Christopher Hitchens, the Roman Catholic MacShane has devoted many decades to the struggle against fascism and for justice, equality and freedom. Alas, in our fallen world, this made him a marked man. On Friday 7th November, 2012, the cross-party House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee suspended him for twelve months for submitting false invoices and fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds in expenses.
The Labour chairman of the committee described his conduct as the “gravest case which has come to the committee for adjudication” and Denis saw no choice but to fall on his anti-fascist sword:
In the light of the Parliamentary Commissioner’s decision, supported by the Committee of Standards and Privileges, to uphold the BNP [British National Party] complaint about expenses claimed in connection with my parliamentary work in Europe and in combating antisemitism, I have decided for the sake of my wonderful constituency of Rotherham and my beloved Labour party to resign as an MP. (“Denis MacShane resigns as MP over expenses,” The Guardian, 2 November 2012)
Denis was not alone in his distress and bewilderment that a complaint from so vile a source should have been upheld. The lawyer Mark Stephens, a friend and fellow anti-fascist, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s World at One to condemn the committee’s finding in these uncompromising terms:
The most important thing here is that if people who are anti-fascist, people who have fought against semitism [sic], then in those sort of circumstances – in those circumstances – people will be deterred from doing that in the future, they will become targets… I have worked with Dr Denis MacShane for over thirty years on campaigns and anti-fascist work. This is a huge victory for racists and fascists who have in my opinion abused the parliamentary complaints system to destroy an honourable member of parliament who is a political opponent of the BNP… the chilling effect of this process will deter principled members of Parliament from rooting out prejudice and fascism wherever it may be found. (See here.)
The BBC presenter who interviewed Stephens sounded distinctly bewildered by this line of argument. It was apparent that he did not understand that simple New Labour principle: “To the pure in heart, all things are permitted.” It is obviously an anti-fascist principle too. Let us borrow the words of another devout Catholic, Evelyn Waugh, and suppose that MacShane had tortured one of his four wives or “domestic partners,”flung her out of doors, stuffed, roasted and eaten her children; and gone frolicking about wreathed in all the flowers of Sodom and Gomorrah. Let us further suppose that the BNP learnt of this unbecoming conduct and reported it to the police. Would it then be just for MacShane to be condemned for it? Would it make him any less “honourable” and “principled”? By MacShane’s and Stephens’ logic, plainly it would not: to the pure in anti-fascism, all things are permitted.
What puzzles me is that, by the teaching of MacShane’s own religion, he and Stephens were completely wrong to use that logic. It has long been taught by the Church that an immoral and unworthy priest does not invalidate the sacraments he serves. You don’t need to be a Catholic to understand this teaching or to see how it applies to Denis MacShane and the BNP’s complaint about his behaviour. How can a legitimate complaint about an MP be invalidated by its source? MacShane committed wilful fraud over a prolonged period. It was his own parliamentary colleagues, not the BNP, that confirmed this and suspended him from parliament for it.
But MacShane the fraudster did not try to hide only behind the billowing scarlet banner of anti-fascism. He offered the following in further mitigation:
I had lost a daughter in a sky-diving accident in Australia, gone through a wrenching divorce and held the hand of my first daughter’s mother, Carol Barnes, as she lay dying from a stroke for a week in 2008. To overcome these griefs I did what many do and buried myself in work. I accepted extra parliamentary delegation work from the Labour party. I chaired the all-party commission on inquiry into antisemitism which was hailed as a model of its kind and changed government policy. I wrote two books and hundreds of articles, but claimed under the wrong heading as Mr Lyon rightly notes. Foolishly and wrongly I paid no attention to the administration of my expenses claims. (“Denis MacShane resigns as MP over expenses,” The Guardian, 2 November 2012)
To commit his fraud, MacShane created a front company, the European Policy Institute, and signed its documents using a false name. “No attention” would suggest to a normal human being that, blinded perhaps by tears of grief, he did not notice what he was doing. But Denis MacShane is not a normal human being. Like Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, when he uses a word, it “means just what” he chooses it “to mean – neither more nor less.” In other words, he’s not only a fraudster, he’s a brazen and unblushing liar too. I myself have been fascinated by him and his psychology ever since I first heard his oleaginous tones oozing from my radio in the 1990s. Using the centi-fry (a standard scientific unit of sliminess on which a slug earns perhaps 15 cf and Britain’s omni-media polymath Stephen Fry earns 100), I would award MacShane an average of about 75 cf, though he reached the high 80s during his auto-exculpations. It was not “honourable” or “principled” of him to use the deaths of his daughter and another daughter’s mother to excuse a systematic and sustained fraud. If MacShane is not a psychopath or moral imbecile, he can certainly give an excellent imitation of one.
But I do think that £12,900, the sum involved in this particular fraud, is minute by comparison with the sums – and the suffering – he and New Labour have cost the country as a whole. Partly by incompetence, partly by malice, New Labour lost or wasted billions of pounds, fostered huge amounts of violent and fiscal crime, and did unquantifiable harm to the culture and institutions of the United Kingdom. MacShane is a microcosm of that New Labour malpractice and it will be instructive to examine the unending lies, deceit and treachery of his recently ended career.
Minister of Truth
MacShane served under Tony Blair as Minister of State for Europe from April 2002 to May 2005. During those three years did he, like his old comrade Christopher Hitchens, look constantly to George Orwell for guidance? I suspect not, but one could be forgiven for thinking that MacShane based his career closely on Orwell’s most famous book. In Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948), readers are offered a master-class in the political use of contradiction, chutzpah and contempt for truth:
The official ideology [of Ingsoc] abounds with contradictions even when there is no practical reason for them. Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism. It preaches a contempt for the working class unexampled for centuries past… Even the names of the four Ministries by which we are governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely.
That might be a description of New Labour or the Newer Labour that has replaced it under Ed Miliband, son of the Marxist philosopher Ralph. Proclaiming support for the working-class in its very name, the modern Labour party has worked tirelessly to harm their interests. According to the Labour peer Lord Glasman, New Labour was hostile to the White working-class and used mass immigration as a weapon against them. Glasman’s colleagues were horrified by his opposition to further immigration and by his support for traditional working-class values, which he allegedly identified as “male”. The Labour Justice spokeswoman Helen Goodman sternly condemned this sexism: “If Glasman thinks we will all greet this with an ironic post-feminist smile, he is wrong. How can we in a country where 1,000 women are raped each week? He seems to be harking back to a Janet and John Fifties era.” Male sex-crimes against women and children are, of course, a core concern of progressives like Goodman – and like MacShane, who invoked “Child Sexual Exploitation” as he again lamented the role of the BNP in his downfall:
From: MACSHANE, Denis
Sent: 07 November 2012 16:29
Subject: RE: Backbench Business Debate – Tues 13th Nov – Child Sexual Exploitation
I asked for this debate along with Nicola [Blackwood] and others as combating internal as well external trafficking of children, grooming, all forms of the sexualisation of childhood has been a campaign of mine and I was half-way through writing a book as the axe fell when the BNP complaint against me was upheld. I apologise to all ex colleagues for once again allowing publicity on all the wretched expenses problems dating back to the old regime to surface. Thanks to all, led by the Father of the House, for the wonderful messages of solidarity, support and best wishes […] I wish you all the best and I urge you to support this debate and all future Parliamentary work to allow children and women to live in Britain without fear of sexual abuse or exploitation by men. (Guido Fawkes,“Denis MacShane Apologises to all Mps”, November 7th, 2012)
Progressives like Goodman and MacShane, while sternly opposing the sexual abuse of women and children, firmly support mass immigration from countries in which it takes place at much higher rates. When Lord Glasman stood up for Labour’s traditional male supporters, Goodman invoked the spectre of the “1,000 women… raped each week” in the UK. But how many of the rapists would be here were it not for mass immigration? And how many more will there be in future for the same reason? In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell imagined a Ministry of Truth that promoted lies and deceit. In the modern West, feminist progressives literally do promote sex-crimes against women.
Indeed, MacShane’s own constituency, Rotherham, has been the centre of a “scandal” in which Muslim men raped and abused White girls while the authorities intervened on behalf not of the victims but of the criminals. For example, a White father was arrested by the police when he tried to rescue his daughter from the house in which she was being abused. Another abused White girl was offered “Urdu and Punjabi lessons” to help her better integrate with the “community” in which her abusers were operating. Rotherham’s MP Denis MacShane stood by and did nothing, then slathered synthetic concern on the victims when the cover-up was exposed (see, e.g., “Police turned blind eye to sex grooming”). Similar scandals have taken place elsewhere and for the same reason: because the “anti-racism” championed by MacShane and his comrades has paralysed the policing of “ethnic communities,” many of which do not share MacShane’s deep concern for female rights.
But even more central to MacShane’s career than his struggle for female rights has been his struggle against antisemitism, which is particularly admirable in a Roman Catholic who has never admitted to any Jewish ancestry. As he noted in his resignation statement, in 2006 he chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, which, he proudly noted, “was hailed as a model of its kind and changed government policy.” In its report, the Inquiry discussed “Sources of Contemporary Antisemitism”. It devoted two pages, ten paragraphs, and 1,184 words to “The Far Right,” as drawn from Britain’s dwindling white majority. It then devoted six pages, thirty-three paragraphs, and 3,127 words to “Islamist Antisemitism”, as drawn from Britain’s swelling Muslim minority (see Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, ).
In the early twenty-first century, there are undoubtedly many active, obnoxious and dangerous antisemites in the UK. But how many of them would be here were it not for mass immigration? And how many more will there be in future for the same reason? Jonathan Sacks, the British Chief Rabbi, is quoted in the report as saying that the UK “is one of the least antisemitic societies in the world” (see above, p. 1). Could Sacks say the same of any Muslim nation? I would suggest not. However, Henry Grunwald, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, is quoted thus in the report: “There is probably a greater feeling of discomfort, greater concerns, greater fears now about antisemitism than there have been for many decades” (Ibid.) Are Henry Grunwald’s concerns related to the fact that the UK has experienced Muslim immigration “for many decades”? I would suggest so. The truth seems to be that, with friends like Denis MacShane and New Labour, Jews in Britain will never lack for enemies.
The Curious Case of Nick Cohen’s Comrades
The Inquiry’s report did not merely discuss and analyse antisemitism: it also suggested solutions. One of its suggestions will not be attractive to any genuinely liberal person:
The former Home Office Minister Paul Goggins MP gave evidence of a model which could possibly be applied to racist material on the internet. In the case of child pornography it is now an offence to download images from the internet, and it may be possible to develop a similar law in regard to material which could incite racial or religious hatred (Ibid., p. 37).
In other words, “hateful” material, as defined by the state, may “possibly” become the ideological equivalent of child pornography. Merely looking at a hate-text should “possibly” be a criminal act, according to an inquiry chaired by MacShane in 2006. In 2012, he addressed the question of censorship again as he reviewed the journalist Nick Cohen’s “timely polemic” You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom (2012):
Surely there is no greater badge of honour than to stand with the giants of the 18th century, who insisted rationality should be given equal status to superstition. … The right of men (always men) dressed in long robes to censor words and thought is increasing, not diminishing. In the end, Cohen rightly argues, we have to assert the Enlightenment values of both Voltaire and Mill as they argued for free speech. … The new authoritarianism combines religious supremacists, Chinese communists, Russian kleptocrats, “Davos men” and the Fortune 500 super-rich in a new network of postmodern censorship. We have more information than ever, but truth is harder to find and easy to suppress. Increased freedom and increased censorship co-exist. This wasn’t meant to happen. Cohen asks worrying questions that offshore proprietors and their editors do not want raised and lawmakers have no easy answer to. (“You can’t read this book,” The Observer, 12 February 2012)
But the lawmakers of the New Labour government had lots of “easy answers” on free speech. They were firmly opposed to it, strengthening and extending Britain’s authoritarian laws against the expression of racial and religious “hatred.” MacShane served long and faithfully in that government and voted for every increase in censorship. But now he claims to support the “Enlightenment values” of “Voltaire and Mill” against “men dressed in long robes,” whose increased presence in the UK he and New Labour have so assiduously promoted. His support for free speech was not apparent when he oversaw a parliamentary report suggesting it be made a criminal offence to read state-disapproved material on the internet. In fact, MacShane does not believe in free speech or any other kind of freedom. He is lying when he claims to stand with Voltaire and Mill. But why did MacShane, an active enemy of free speech, write a positive review of Nick Cohen’s book? Why does Cohen himself, a stern critic of New Labour, quote prominently from MacShane’s review on his website?
It’s simple: MacShane and Cohen are both neo-conservatives, firm supporters of a policy of welcoming Muslims into the West while waging war on them in their homelands. (Despite his fall from grace, MacShane continues as a member of the Policy Council of the Labour Friends of Israel.) MacShane does not support free speech and it’s hard to believe Cohen can be unaware of this. But MacShane’s opposition to free speech is less important to Cohen than their shared interest in dropping bombs on foreigners with dark skins. Other firm supporters of the neo-cons’ welcome-and-war policies congregate at the Harry’s Place website, to which Cohen’s website extends a fraternal link under the heading “Comrades.” Is it wrong of me to feel dubious about a advocate of free speech who has “Comrades”? After all, history offers few examples of comradely regimes that allowed their citizens to speak as they pleased.
And guess what? Harry’s Place was founded by a “former” Stalinist, who used the nom de guerre “Harry Steel” in tribute to the Man of Steel, Josef Stalin. Like MacShane, Harry’s Place does not believe in free speech. It is fully in support of Britain’s laws against “hate-speech” and does not wish to see the American First Amendment copied in this country. Like MacShane, Harry’s Place models itself on Ingsoc in Nineteen Eighty-Four, loudly proclaiming its support for things to which it is in fact firmly opposed. And like MacShane, it is part of a network of politicians, academics, bureaucrats and activists busily laying the foundations for a future slave-state. If the theories of some physicists are true and parallel universes exist alongside our own, it may one day become possible to observe them and see how history has taken many different courses. In a parallel Britain ruled by mass-murdering communists, I suggest we might see many familiar faces from New Labour in high places: Denis MacShane, Peter Mandelson, Jack Straw, David Aaronovitch and Alastair Campbell, inter alios. But I doubt Tony Blair would be there. He was a useful front-man in our actual Britain, where traces of genuine democracy and freedom still linger, but he was always more interested in narcissism and self-enrichment than in brute power.
Nevertheless, he served willingly and effectively in the cause of brute power under the guidance of colder and cleverer men like Denis MacShane. MacShane is lying when he praises free speech and democracy, but quite sincere in his support for European integration and his opposition to fascism. His pro-Europeanism and his anti-fascism are in fact connected: MacShane and his comrades want to crush the possibility of a far-right tyranny with the reality of a far-left tyranny. They want to build a giant slave-state in which, as MacShane’s report on antisemitism proposed, it will be illegal merely to read a text of which the comrades disapprove. At the time of his departure from parliament, it was suggested that MacShane should be prosecuted for fraud. It seems ever less likely that he will be, but the fraud was trivial by comparison with his and New Labour’s other crimes. He and his comrades hope to commit even greater crimes in future. And they are lying and cheating us closer to their Marxist slave-state by the day.