Monday, February 20, 2006

Fur flies for Kate Hoey

As time goes on I find myself warming more and more to Kate Hoey MP. Admittedly she was originally imposed upon Vauxhall Labour party, who wanted the admirable Martha Osamor as candidate, but since then Hoey has developed an excellent record at standing up against New Labour.

She rebelled against the government on important votes on the Racial Hatred bill, as well as opposing the illiberal and poorly conceived "anti-terrorism" legislation, as well as opposing ID cards, and being a firm opponent of the Iraq war.

See her voting record. She was also an excellent minister for sport, who really understood the issues, rather than relying on spin and sound-bites.

But what impresses me is that she thinks for herself, and has a consistent record of opposing big government interfering in our private lives: she opposed the ban on smoking in pubs, opposed the ban on fox hunting, and even stood up to the public hysteria after Dunblane and opposed the ban on hand guns.

So I was so so so impressed by her recent response to the Daily Telegraph reporting that she had been seen wearing a Gucci watch and a fake fur coat. “The Gucci was fake: the fur was real” she replied.


Nick said...

Opposed to banning smoking, hunting and handguns; rich and stupid enough to wear fur? What a shame the RCP is no longer around to recruit her...

Reuben said...

i definitely respect her on the issue of fur: the dislike of fur (as opposed to leater or meat - personally i dont eat meat but wear alot of leather) has always seemed based on emotion and the idea that we shouldnt kill animals that are cute. Ill check her voting record...

AN said...

hi Nick. Well clearly the RCP were a rum bunch, and their transformation into the "Institute of Ideas" has been a wonder to behold. It was never clear how pouting and wearing hair gell in themselves were ever going to advance the cause of socialism.

But a strong point of theirs was that they did argue against tabloid generated"moral panics".

For example, just because one psychopath, who didn’t even meet the existing regulations on gun ownership, went berserk in Dunblane, why did that mean that dedicated sportsmen and women, for example the British Olympic shooting team, were no longer able to keep their guns?

The interesting thing is that these “controversial” issues are not directly related to working class politics, and many active and even militant trade unionists might support hunting, smoking and the right of people to be in gun clubs, or wear fur. Certainly that has been true in the places I have worked.

So the left should either argue from a point of principle, that the state shouldn’t be involved in personal life style choices, or point out that these issues are not directly relevant to class politics, and therefore be neither for nor against. Instead much of the left has succumbed to trendy issue politics.

Now one big big trouble with the RCP was that they used their “controversial” positions to differentiate themselves from everyone else, and were completely unable to engage with working class militants because of their intellectual arrogance.

So it seems a strange accusation to throw at Kate Hoey, a traditional social democratic labour MP, that she has politics close to the RCP. She clearly is a mainstream member of the labour movement.

Jim Jay said...

I was totally bemused by this;

So the left should either argue from a point of principle, that the state shouldn’t be involved in personal life style choices, or point out that these issues are not directly relevant to class politics, and therefore be neither for nor against. Instead much of the left has succumbed to trendy issue politics.

It just seems so sterile. Do you understand that people have a right to argue for the things they believe in regardless of whether it fits into your categories or not?

People do not become left wing because they read an academic text and say "Yes, that's the meta theory for me" and then set about believing all the things they 'should' believe according to the theory (although there is a little of that, I've been asked occasionally "what do we believe as socialists about...").

Generally they begin to label themselves left wing (or whatever) because it fits most closely with what they believe. And progressive people are not just progressive over trade union issues.

Although obviously the smoking ban is a trade union issue and directly relates to conditions in the work place and therefore not just about life style choices.

AN said...

Actually i think i mostly agree with you Jim, so either I hadn't explained myself very well, or perhaps you have caught me out, but obvioulsy I would never admit that.

The trouble is, as I see it, that left groups have tried to take a "line" on social issues such as hunting, hand guns, etc.
Whereas - as you correctly say - people come to a load of different positions on different issues independently.

But I dispute that banning hand guns, or banning hunting with dogs (I have friends who shoot hares, and I have hunted rabbits with dogs myself) are progressive - I just think they are "trendy" extensions of some people's lifestyle choices on to others.

And because there is no unanimity even among socialists about what is and what is not progressive, then socialists should be sensitive to that and not try to impose a conformist consensus.

So yes, i was brought up a socialist, and I have educated myself to be a marxist, but I see no reason on that basis to beleive all the things i am "supposed to believe" to be a conformist left winger.

So I continue to support hunting, shooting, fur, etc. These positions fit in with the views of many of my friends, and apparently with Kate Hoey!

And i get a bit fed up when sentimental and soppy arguments about animals are described as progressive (not that I am accusing you of such a terrible thing, obvioulsy)

Reuben said...

im with andy here/ There is a real problem on the left with lifestyle. The problem is that people think that by making a lifestyle choice - by keeping their own personal morality pure by not eating meat or whatever they are engaging in a political act. They are not

AN said...

Thank reuben, I needed your help on the smoking debate! Where were you? You set the hare running and then slopped off for a Monte Cristo.

Actually when i became a father it did change my mind about a lot of stuff that i previoulsy dismissed as tree-hugging shit. And now, while I still don't agree with the Gaia style mystacism behind it, I do value the idea of our aninal connection with the Earth and sensual experience, etc. I believe that dislocation from nature is a result of that old marxist favorite, commodity fetishism, and we should value physical experience, etc.

But paradoxically I think you have a closer relationship to nature if you are prpared to eat animals and wear leather (it is hardly ever cold enough for fur in England) , and I have always agreed with the vegetarians when they say you should only eat animals if you are prepared to kill them.

Jim Jay said...

I think I'm going to be sick! All this concensus - what's come over us? Bloody hippies!

Despite this I'm still going to agree with Andy over fox hunting and hand guns - when I said that And progressive people are not just progressive over trade union issues. I was being general not specific - which is far more thorny and contested.

The only progressive thing about a ban on fox hunting is that it annoys the rich - which is why I was for it. Hand guns... not really thought much about it before but...

I think Mike Moore was right in Bowling for Columbine when he said that perhaps its not the number of guns in the US that's the problem - because in Canada there is a similar level of gun ownership but gun crime is far far lower. Perhaps its something about US society rather than simple access to guns.

I guess I do believe that vegetarianism is often progressive *in modern society* but feel no compulsion to be one - I blame alienation :(

Nick said...

Well I'm not going to agree with either of you, despite my hippy tendencies. If animals need to be killed for various reasons then so be it - do it as quickly and humanely as possible. To turn it into a social occasion or "sport", for pleasure, is just sick to my mind.
And who on earth can imagine that in any healthy society everyone will have a gun by their bed? Is that what we aspire to? Like "gated communities" it's part of a seige mentality. So what if the Olympic shooting team can't take their work home - why would they want to? Do javelin throwers walk round carrying javelins all day?

AN said...

No - I think you have underestimated how draconian the gun laws are - actually the british shooting team are not even allowed to have guns at all, and can no longer practice at Bisley, but have to go abroad to train.