Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Iain Dale & Tony Benn Agree Shock

Well who'd have thunk it. I agree with Bob Piper and Tony Benn. Jesus. Where will it all end?

Ask the powerful 5 questions
1. What power have you got?
2. Where did you get it from?
3. In whose interest do you exercise it?
4. To whom are you accountable?
5. How can we get rid of you?

Only democracy gives us that right. That is why no-one in power likes democracy - and that is why every generation must struggle to win it and keep it. Including you and me - here and now.

The difference between Tony Benn and me is that I believe that these rights should be afforded to the people of Iraq. I rather suspect he doesn't.


Anonymous said...


Don't be smug.

Politics is the art of the possible: if it were possible to get rid of Saddam (for whatever reason) it was right to do it.

Just because it would be unfeasible, at the moment, for the Uzbek's and Chinese, for example, to have that 'honour' (right surely?) then that is no reason to deny the Iraqi people their right.

Anonymous said...

Iain, think the difference is Tony Benn would have supported an internal revolution to gain democracy (preferably left wing of course) rather than an externally imposed democratic process.

Views on use of force would differ on politics of the state regime - Benn would probably have supported external force against Pinochet, Vorster or Smith

Anonymous said...

Good point Ted

ian said...

Do you believe those rights should be afforded to the Palestinians, even if they exercise them to elect someone you disapprove of?

Bob Piper said...

Nice to see Iain and his commenters posting Tony Benn's views for him. Can someone give me any evidence to support Iain's ridiculous assertion that Tony would not want to see democracy in Iraq? Of course you can't. As Ted indicated... the 'question how do we get rid of you' is one for the people of Iraq, not Blair/Bush/Cameron and others who have no interest in 'democracy'. If they are invading to assert democratic principles, why are they not invading their friends in Saudi Arabia? There's no democracy there.

Anonymous said...

Before the British government bombs democracy into any other countries across the world, they should take a closer look at home.

What about England's right to elect a democratic government, through their own Parliament?

New Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems should begin cleaning up the crap they've created on their own doorsteps before they even consider interfering in the rest of the world. Britain is hardly a great model for democracy.

Do Britain's MPs even realise how shameful their double standards are?

Anonymous said...

Stop for a moment please, the talk of bringing democracy to Iraq is yet another one of those ex post justifications for the invasion. No one really knows the real casus belli for the invasion, do they?

I agree with the 5 points from Tony Benn, just look at the present UK governments, we have sham "consultation" exercises, a PM who barely attends the Commons and it looks like the next PM will be Brown yet no one will have voted for him to run the nation.

Iain Dale said...

Bob, the difference is that Saudi Arabia's rulers have not committed genocide. But then you knew that.

Anonymous said...

Benn's five questions should be contrasted with the questions he actually did ask of Saddam Hussein in his embarrassingly sycophantic interview with him in 2003:,,889187,00.html

Glass House said...

Nick Cohen's book, "Pretty Straight Guys" has an entire chapter which answers those questions with regard to the Iraq war. It totally dismantles Benn's smug outlook.

Anonymous said...


The suggestion that Tony Benn, or indeed anyone who opposed the war, doesn't want freedom or democracy in Iraq is a nonsense, and you do yourself no credit.

From my perspective, the idea of overthrowing a dictator and installing democracy is a very worthy one, it's just that I and millions of others thought (rightly) that it simply couldn't be done and that you would end up with a divided nation, civil war, and more bloodhsed than anyon ever imagined. You can disagree with me, and i'll always respect that, but to stereotype us as some sort of Saddam-loving idiots is pretty insulting, and shows a unwillingness to listen to opposing views, which is a real shame from someone who wants to be a prominent member of the next Government.

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, hang on a cotton pickin' minute! You can't possibly infer that from what I wrote. FACT Tony Benn would have left Saddam in power. I don't doubt that given a choice, Tony would always want a democracy, but he's not willing to support those who have ensured that Iraq has one. It's not perfect, but it's there. And it wouldn;t have been if the government had followed Tony's line.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous? Whoops!

I'm sorry, but I can infer that from what you wrote, which was...

"The difference between Tony Benn and me is that I believe that these rights should be afforded to the people of Iraq. I rather suspect he doesn't."

I.e. Tony Benn does not believe that the rights described should be afforded to the people of Iraq. How else can your words be interpreted?

If i'm way off the mark here I apologise, but you made a very strong statement in your post.

Lobster Blogster said...

Iraq doesn't have a democracy. It has a civil war.

Anonymous said...

Bob Piper, I have listened closely to Benn on TV and radio interviews, and I'm afraid Iain is closer to the truth than you are; no matter how much we all admire and like Benn as a Man of Principle, he can in fact be pretty oily and political; he is against the liberation of the Iraqi people because it is US-inspired; no doubt if Iran had walked in he would be singing a different tune. The Problem with Benn has always been that he is a troubled, confused, over-intellectual type of leftie; on the one hand, he loves Parliament (bastion of bourgeois liberalism), hates EU (many on the left love the sort of mass-bureacratic centralism of Brussels) and believes in the individual. On the other he hates the US standing up for such rights. It's all informed by a sort of wierd 1930s methodist aristocratic sang froid. The lack of logic is truly troubling, as is the psuedo-humanitarianism he extends to some but not others. Thank God he never made it into the highest office, as it was said he could in the 60s. His biggest achievement in office was of course Concorde, a transport for the super-rich, and something he always goes on about, even when every expert agrees it was a total waste of money for both Britain and the world.

Bob Piper said...

Ah, the Saddam genocide justification from Iain. Presumably the Cameron opposition are planning even now to invade even more countries. Mugabwe had better be on his toes, the Tories are coming! When they've finished in Darfur, that is.

Will we never run out of post-war reasons to justify an invasion to get rid of Weapons of Mass Destruction that were not there?

I note that Iain was unable to come up with a single piece of evidence to support the assertion that Tony Benn does not want to see democracy in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

As a "soft-leftie" in the West Midlands, I subscribe to various lists to keep me up to date with the rantings of the "hard-left". Anyone in doubt about Benn's sympathies could check in at his SWP/Islamofascist inspired rally coming up in Coventry. To quote from the local SWP-run "Stop the War" mailing:

"Dear Stop the War supporter
As hopefully you know by now, Tony Benn is coming to speak in Coventry on Saturday evening, 2nd September, 7.00 pm in the Methodist Central Hall, New Union Street.
The subject of the meeting is: Iraq - why it's time to go. We also have Linda Holmes, whose son is serving in Iraq, speaking on behalf of Military Families Against the War, and John Rees from Stop the War Coalition in London, and Yvonne Ridley from the Islam channel, as further speakers.
This is a very important opportunity for us to get the anti-war message out in Coventry, and we want to give the meeting maximum publicity. We will be contacting the press, TV and radio.
But more importantly, we need you to talk to your friends, families and workmates and encourage them to come along. If you would like to some leaflets to give out, or would like to leaflet your street, or if you know of other events that we could leaflet, please get in touch. You can call me on 07732 030231 or reply to this mail.
In peace
Andy Pettit
Chair, Coventry Stop the War Coalition "

Anonymous said...

Benn just doesn't want to do anything to make democracy HAPPEN. Granted a difference in emphasis from what Iain said, but the end effect of Benn's (in)action is much the same.

Anonymous said...

Tony Benn has been using this 'yard-stick' of democracy for many years. Like him or loathe him, anyone that believes in true democracy surely cannot offer a better gauge.

Anonymous said...

It's all very well saying "Iraq has the right to democracy", but you have to see whether you are actually able to give them that right.
Dictatorship has "social origins". It's not just a case of lopping off Saddam, and hey presto, democray comes in its place.
The allies' invasion of Iraq to bring democracy must be judged on its results, not its intentions, otherwise, we're in Blair-land again. And the result has been a civil war.
I backed the war, or rather, I opposed the anti-war lobby. but the way in which the war was conducted, the poor planning, the failure of the UK govt to establish links with the Pentagon - just terrible.
As for Tony Benn leaving Saddam in power - so did Thatcher, so did Major. They just had a more "realist" (in both senses of the term) foreign policy.
"Democracy" in Iraq is now tainted by civil war, not a great move.

Anonymous said...

I remember Tony Benn coming to speak at an A Level Politics conference I attended some years ago where he said something very similar. I also remember being very surprised at the amount of common ground I found with him!

Anonymous said...

Since when were our MPs elected to represent Iraq?

Anonymous said...

Iain, are you really saying that you think democracy should be 'gifted' on the Middle East? Who should be next -- Saudi Arabia?

The situation there -- with their stonings and beheadings, mysoginy, homophobia and Christian-hatred -- is enough to give me nightmares.

But I think we'd all rather the current regime stayed in power, with all their unpleasantness, than that our oil supply be threatened.

Iran's election has landed the entire world with a pile of shit to deal with; and, going from the sublime to the ridiculous, Hammas's bleatings for subsidy restoration from Israel and the EU after they were fairly elected by Palestinian voters quickly became not just pathetic but tiresome.

I would call myself a democrat; but I also strongly suspect that democracy's a First World perk.