Today marks the end of TUC congress. To explain what that is in layman’s terms, it is an annual conference where people interested in trade unions come together to discuss trade union type stuff. This year’s event is in Brighton.
I’d like to highlight a segment from the congress speech of Tosh McDonald, the president of ASLEF, the train drivers union. Now, some of you may have heard from Twitter that Tosh compared Hilary Benn to Hitler. In a sense, he did – but he actually said something far more offensive.
His reference to Benn was about the Syria speech Benn gave in the House last December. McDonald spoke about how if Tories clap you then you’ve done something wrong – that’s not the offensive bit. He also said that Benn was wrong to have compared the idea of the West taking military action in Syria now with the international bridages who fought against Franco in Spain in the 1930s.
“The only comparison I can draw is with Hitler and Mussolini, bombing the republican lines in Spain,” he said.
Okay, the big problem with this, which oddly enough even right of centre outlets haven’t picked up on, is that what Tosh McDonald is doing with this quote is saying that the west bombing ISIS targets is a direct comparison with Axis forces bombing the republicans during the Spanish Civil War. Therefore, McDonald is saying that ISIS is directly comparable to the those who fought against Franco back then.
Now, I wasn’t in the hall and I’m going by a transcript of the speech. But unless someone has very badly misquoted Tosh McDonald, it seems like he is saying that ISIS are freedom fighters battling against fascism. Daesh are fighting for a better world but being trampled upon by western imperialism.
When exactly did saying stuff like this become acceptable on the Left? To indirectly compare murderous, criminal death cults with people like George Orwell (who was shot in the neck fighting alongside anti-Franco forces in Aragon in 1937)?
A better question is around whether people like Tosh McDonald say these things unthinkingly or for pure shock value – or if he really beliefs that ISIS and anti-Franco fighters are basically the same thing? Oh what the Falangists would have killed for to have someone like Tosh doing their propaganda back in the late 30’s – the facist dictatorship of Franco’s that lasted almost 40 years might have got full control of Spain even sooner.
All this stuff about the regressive left writes itself these days – sadly.