Monday, 12 September 2011

Travellers and slaves - what's a poisonous old lefty like Vanessa Redgrave to do?

Oh dear! Vanessa Redgrave must be in a bit of a quandary today, what with allegations that members of her beloved “travelling community” have been keeping vagrants imprisoned in horse-boxes and dog kennels and using them as slave labour for up to 15 years. After all, only two weeks ago she described the scumbag travellers at Dale Farm as  “strong, wise, warm and gentle”. I wonder if the down-and-outs allegedly held captive at Leighton Buzzard would now agree with Ms Redgrave.

Here’s Vanessa’s problem. She’s faced with two groups whom she no doubt views as ruthlessly exploited and marginalised by bourgeois Western society. But here, members of one group were apparently being exploited by the members of the other group in a particularly callous and sickening manner. It’s going to be quite hard to claim that in this instance both groups are victims in a very real sense. And she can’t resort to the standard lefty ploy of blaming the Tories, the capitalist press, “Zionist hoodlums”, the Americans – or, indeed, a mixture of all four. And because it’s been going on for up to fifteen years, she can’t really blame The Cuts either.

I’m not, I’ll admit, generally that sympathetic to the homeless, unless they’re evidently mad. I remember walking the length of The Strand during the evening hours on several occasions in the 1980s on my way to or from the Royal Opera House when “rough sleepers” had just taken over from the miners as the Left’s main mascot victim group de jour, and not feeling the slightest bit sorry for any of those camped out in shop doorways (whereas I did feel sorry for the poor shivering dogs whom they’d roped in for the purposes of emotional blackmail). None of the humans looked mad, all were evidently able-bodied, you could barely move for soup kitchens back in those days, and if these people were destitute through no fault of their own they could no doubt have found some help via the local council or one of the many charities operating in the area. As many of these professional beggars were grinning as they rudely shouted demands for money at passers-by, they didn’t appear to be too distressed. (I assumed that the hale and hearty elements had chased genuine vagrants away from these prime spots.)

But the mentally impaired, the psychically scarred and the severely abused can all too easily slip through the cracks, so I’m only too aware that there are some genuinely vulnerable people out there on our streets: they simply lack the intellectual or emotional wherewithal to find help. These people evidently deserve our compassion, especially as they must be prey to a lot of  feral scumbags only to happy to exploit suffering souls in order to satisfy whichever degenerate craving is currently lending their lives purpose. 

And I presume that it was from this pool of real victims that the “strong, wise, warm and gentle” travellers of Leighton Buzzard chose their slaves (allegedly).

But, if push comes to shove, I’m pretty sure a poisonous old lefty like our Vanessa would plump for the travellers. I mean, even rich Tories can feel sorry for people who genuinely can’t help themselves, so where’s the kudos in that? No, the real fun is in choosing victims that the rest of polite society knows only too well aren’t victims at all – like “travellers” (whose defining characteristic appears to be a disinclination ever to travel anywhere). As I said in a recent post, what the urban left practices is “malign” compassion: they simulate compassion for entirely ignoble purposes.

Eighteen months ago I put forward the idea for a new board game calledVictim! in which players are given victim group identities and then have to garner enough victimhood points (with the aid of “Grievance” and “Rights” cards) to ensure that no other player can catch them up. When their lead becomes unassailable, they shout out “Victim!” – and they’ve won. Surprisingly, Waddingtons haven’t been in touch. Maybe adding another category of cards – called “Redgraves” – which say things like “Labour Leader supports your cause – lose 50 points” could tip the balance in my favour. There would, of course, be a card which read: “Vanessa Redgrave supports your cause – you have lost the game”.


  1. Yes, but...since when have old lefties had any problem with either holding several mutually inconsistent views at once or switching to the opposite view when the context changes. Hence our local Socialist Worker seller in Goodge Street who went from "Smash fascism in Argentina:march on Saturday" to "Stop The war against Argentina:march on Saturday" in two weeks in 1981.
    Friday, September 16, 2011 - 07:49 PM

  2. My favourite example comes from the early years of the Second World War, when, within the course of two years, the Hard Left in Britain went from opposing the war on the grounds that it was all a capitalist ploy to oppress the proletariat, to opposing the war because Soviet Russia had made a pact with Germany and whatever Stalin did was okay by them, to supporting the war because their main rival left-wing totalitarian political philosophy – Nazism – had to be defeated. Oddly, I’ve never seen a dramatisation examining these somewhat rapid changes of position, but I’ve seen many films and TV dramas over the years tearing into those sections of the British aristocracy and the Tory Party which supported appeasement – or worse. (The most rotten of these was Stephen Poliakoff’s 2009 movie, “Glorious 39”, in which the British upper classes are busy selling out to Hitler – it’s a truly morally repellent piece of work.)
    Sunday, September 18, 2011 - 02:35 PM