torsdag, september 29, 2005

Don't mention the war

Independent skriver idag om hur 82-årige Walter Wolfgang slängdes ut från Labours partikongress, för att han kallade Jack Straw's försvar av Irakkriget för "nonsens".

Walter Wolfgang, a party member for 57 years, was bundled out of the conference hall by stewards after shouting "nonsense" as Mr Straw, the Foreign Secretary, defended Britain's role in Iraq. He was later stopped under anti-terrorist powers as he tried to re-enter the hall.

Steve Forrest, the chairman of the Erith and Thamesmead Labour Party, was also ejected for protesting at Mr Wolfgang's treatment. Angry delegates demonstrated at the removal of the two men as Mr Straw made an unapologetic defence of British policy in Iraq.

Mr Forrest said: "I literally said 'hear, hear' twice. Later, this gentleman shouted 'nonsense'. It was just the voicing of an opinion and they grabbed hold of him. I said: 'You leave him alone, he is an old man' and five stewards pulled me out of the centre. They've taken my pass away and they won't let me back into the conference centre."

When the Prime Minister was asked by a journalist whether he would apologise to Mr Wolfgang, he did not comment.

Senare fick Blair kalla fötter, och valde att be Wolfgang, som varit medlem i Labour i 57 år, om ursäkt:

Interviewed on GMTV, the Prime Minister was asked whether Mr Wolfgang had his personal apology.

Mr Blair said: "Yes, he does. I'm really sorry about it.

Blari vägrade dock träffa Wolfgang för att be honom direkt om ursäkt:

But Mr Blair indicated he was unlikely to give Mr Wolfgang a personal apology.

"I'm sure I'm not going to meet Walter. There's no need to. I can just offer him my apology.

Independent skriver:

The heavy-handed treatment of Mr Wolfgang revived criticism of the "control freakery" associated with New Labour and even drew comparisons with the way the Communist leaders in Russia and China stifled dissent.

In what Tony Blair's anti-war critics have called the "don't mention the war" conference, the party avoided a separate debate and vote on Iraq and the Prime Minister made only a short reference to the issue in his keynote speech. Mr Blair also blocked a motion for the conference to pay tribute to Robin Cook, the cabinet minister who resigned over the war and died in August. Yesterday's protest was muted by Labour's standards, but the over-reaction by conference stewards backfired and turned into a public relations disaster for the party.

Tony Blairs syn på yttrandefrihet blev tydlig förra året, då en liknande händelse utspelade sig:

the prime minister was mid-speech last year when a hunting protester attempted a freestyle heckle only to be instantly grabbed by "burly bouncers" and helped to the exit.

No one who was there will forget the incongruity of the prime minister telling the man he was lucky to live in a free society where such things were allowed - just as he was being bundled out of the hall surrounded by stewards.

Öppen debatt är tydligen inte så viktig i dagens demokratier, utan man försöker på olika sätt tysta protester. Ett populärt uttryck brukar vara att man inte vill delta i "the blame game", att man vill skjuta upp debatt och polemik till ett senare tillfälle. Problemet är bara att det tillfället aldrig verkar dyka upp. Man skjuter medvetet upp saker tills de inte längre är dagsaktuella och färska i folks minnen, och därmed ointressanta för exempelvis medier att bevaka. Men, som Yabosid har påpekat genom att citera komikern Jon Stewart:

"When people don't want to play the blamegame - they are to blame!"



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2 Comments:

Blogger Mr Brown said...

Riktigt pinsamt. Jag hörde om storyn på BBCs nätradio. Det brittiska parlamentet är ju lite speciellt, politikerna sitter och hurrar eller buar i bänkarna. Men att stoppa Walter Wolfgang att komma in igen med hjälp av terrorlagar gör ju fars av själva terrorlagarna och visar på deras godtycklighet. Otrolig story.

1:56 em  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Ja, det är verkligen fantastiskt. England, frihetens fyrbåk!

Och Blair själv blir mer och mer kejserlig som sin företräderska Lady Thatcher: We are s o looking forward to our visti to Japan!

Groteskt!

8:24 em  

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