Friday, February 23, 2007

Nick Cohen is being driven to Toryism by the Livingstone-Chavez axis.

The liberal who lost his way and joined the circus is outraged that Livingstone has cut a deal for cheap oil with Hugo Chavez, and may vote Tory if Livingstone doesn't stand down and make way for a neoconservative Labour candidate. Why? Oh, because Denis MacShane of the Henry Jackson Society says so. Because Chavez is accused of suppressing press freedom by his opponents (who control most of the media and routinely denounce Chavez, often in racialised terms). Because he cuts deals with autocrats and flatters them (hardly the only state leader to do that). Because Chavez has asked for and received powers of decree (not the first Venezuelan leader to receive those) and remove term limits (which means he could go on to win more elections). Because - aha! - Chavez once tried to mount a coup, so he probably wants to be dicator. Because Livingstone has previously "embraced" the "misogynist, homophobic, racist and dictatorial leaders of the Islamist far Right". (Much might be said against Yusuf al-Qaradawi, but I am unaware that he has dictatorial powers.)

Aside from the usual irrationality and hysteria, I note a particularly common gesture here: Cohen is shifting to the right, which is a logical result of his position on Iraq (and earlier on Kosovo), but he insists against all evidence that it's our fault. The Left is forcing him to the right, much against his will, and if he ends up having to bury the shades of his past, we are to blame. Some cheek that man has on him.