It was us wot won it

On Iraq and global warming, the left has been vindicated. Our foes still cannot produce apologies, a

Oh, happy days. On the two major issues of the century so far - Iraq and global warming - we lefties have been proved almost completely right. Since one may lead to us all being blown up by terrorists and the other to mass drowning, this may be of small comfort. But our wisdom must surely be acknowledged, and some modest apologies forthcoming.

There are indeed some pleasing signs. Following the Murdoch family's conversion to greenery, the Times generously allowed that "the planet deserves the benefit of the doubt". Even more surprisingly, the Sunday Express honoured the Guardian columnist George Monbiot. In a list of "the 100 men and women who have done most to help save the planet", he came in at number 23, well below the Prince of Wales (7th) but comfortably ahead of St Francis of Assisi (47th) and Mahatma Gandhi (81st). Well done, George!

In the Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson wrote: "I . . . voted for the biggest British military fiasco since the Second World War." It was "intellectually vacuous" for those who, like him, had supported the war to say they had done the right thing but it had somehow turned out wrong. Though good might eventually come of it, "we must be honest and accept that the price has been far too high," he wrote. The Independent's Johann Hari, writing about Iraq for the first time since his recantation in March (apart from recording "nauseous shame" when he watched a play on Iraq at the Edinburgh Festival), said that "those of us who were wrong about this catastrophic invasion should . . . have the humility to shut up and reflect".

Unfortunately, however, Hari's advice has not been widely heeded, on either Iraq or global warming. Peter Hitchens, for example, was quite unfazed when, on BBC TV's Question Time, the audience greeted his continued denials of climate change with prolonged hilarity. None of them was wearing a poppy, he later pointed out in his Mail on Sunday column. The Sunday Telegraph gave two pages to a largely impenetrable "refutation" of man-made global warming by Christopher Monckton. That would be the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher (there is also a musician called Christopher Monckton, but I think he can be absolved). His previous contributions to scientific knowledge include a call for all HIV carriers to be quarantined for life, and the invention of a mathematical puzzle called Eternity, which was supposed to be almost insoluble but was in fact cracked within a year.

If this were Private Eye, I would point out, as further proof that he is guilty of something or other (ignorance perhaps?), that his sister is Rosa Monckton, wife of Dominic Lawson, former Sunday Telegraph editor and another global warming denier, who is himself the son of Nigel (now Lord) Lawson, a Thatcher cabinet minister and yet another denier.

Real enemies

As for Iraq, the Times's Tim Hames insists on the long view. "Would the recovery of Germany and Japan have been anticipated in 1948, three years after their surrender?" he asked. The Daily Mail's trusty defender of lost causes, Melanie Phillips, assured us that talk of a military débâcle in Iraq is all "so much hooey" - just like talk of global warming, in fact. "The biggest danger we face . . . is of talking ourselves into defeat."

By now, our lefty smiles should be fading. It gets worse. In the Times, Anatole Kaletsky warned that "the real enemies of the planet" were not President Bush and Exxon but "environmental pressure groups and anti-capitalist zealots". Fellow lefties, I think that's us. It's all our fault because we've been telling people to take fewer cheap flights, turn down the central heating and stop building hydro-electric dams.

What we should have been doing, I think - I couldn't quite follow the reasoning here - was encouraging people to consume more so that US and British capitalists would see big profits in developing green technology.

Also in the Times, Daniel Finkelstein argued that supporting the US invasion of Iraq was like betting on Chelsea to beat Sheffield United in a football match. Since Chelsea are Premier League champions and Sheffield near the bottom of the table, the bet will usually be right.

A Sheffield victory would be a fluke and to predict it would be silly, since most of the time you'd be wrong. On this basis, Finkelstein ruled, it was right to support not only the Iraq war but the Vietnam war as well, since mighty America should usually win. He thus demonstrated what will no doubt be known as Finkelstein's Law, which I shall quote to my wife next time I direct her into a six-mile motorway traffic jam: "You cannot . . . judge the quality of a decision by its outcome."

So, you see, whether it's Iraq or global warming, we lefties must accept we're still wrong even when we're right.

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