New Times,
New Thinking.

27 October 2009

Left Foot Forward

Will Straw leads the way

By James Macintyre

To anyone out there interested in following politics online — and even to those who aren’t — I really cannot strongly enough recommend the site Left Foot Forward, run by Will Straw.

The site — evidence-based and purely factual — is second to none in its ability to smash the (right-wing) conventional wisdom of contemporary British politics. Everyone reading this should make it a priority to log on in the morning, and tell your friends to do the same. With all the nonsense published in the “online community”, it is a breath of fresh air.

One of Left Foot Forward’s latest important posts is about David Cameron’s notorious alliances in Europe. Fears over the Tories’ new leader in the European Parliament, Michal Kaminski, have been well documented by the press, including the New Statesman. But here Straw highlights much lesser-known ties. Here is an extract:

The Conservatives’ Belgium partners are Lijst Dedecker. Their single representative in the European Parliament is Derk Jan Eppink, a man with well-documented sexist views. But this is nothing on the Islamophobic remarks of Jurgen Verstrepen, a Lijst Dedecker member of the Flemish Parliament. Verstrepen wrote on his blog following the Mumbai attacks:

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“From the US to Europe and Asia. Wherever there is ‘Islam’, there is death, violence, destruction and blind hatred. Now India is affected. They just had their 9/11. In short: the world is suffering from cancer and it looks like its name is Islam. We urgently need global chemotherapy against Islam to save civilisation.”

On a wider note, it is gratifying to see the US press picking up on Washington’s alarm over the British Tories, previously highlighted by Straw and myself. This week, I have interviewed Peter Hain, who makes a number of noteworthy points on a range of issues. As we’re on the subject, here is a small taste:

Hain is unsurprised by reports — including on these pages — of alarm in Washington at David Cameron’s extremism in Europe and elsewhere. “Cameron is a right-wing wolf in sheep’s clothing,” he says, and then becomes the first cabinet minister to say that “the Obama administration rumbled that a while ago. Hillary Clinton and Obama know where Cameron is coming from: a plausible face with his ‘compassionate conservatism’, but I notice that this is the same phrase that Bush used, and look where that got us.”

Back to Straw. I do not pretend to know him well (before anyone accuses me of promoting my friends), but I believe he is one of the most impressive and professional political figures of his generation. A natural liberal, and unusually thoughtful, he is definitely one to watch. Tories, beware.


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