The Right-Minded View On The Euston Manifesto’s 10th Anniversary – And Related What-Nots, In Passing

by richardhutton

Adapted from ‘”We told you so, you fools”: the Euston Manifesto 10 years on’ by Nick Cohen/Spectator.




It may have passed certain people by, but February has seen the 10th anniversary of the Euston Manifesto’s righteous unveiling come and go. This lack of recognition is not due to the manifesto possessing risible content, or being irrelevant to the general public; no – it is simply because modern Britain has become decreasingly relevant to the Euston Manifesto. That is what happens when you put the public in charge of democracy: it simply doesn’t work.

Nonetheless, even now, the manifesto’s preamble manages to stir one’s heart like the very drum-beat of democracy sounding out:

“We hold this truth to be self-evident: we were right about the Iraq thing; and everyone who quibbled fore or hence remains wrong.

What is more, we hold strong views on the following assorted oddments: the rightness of democracy, when run by sensible people; the wrongness of evil-doing, when perpetrated by insensible villains; and the in-betweenness of those who – to all intents and purposes – are a bit iron-fisted when it comes to democracy, but never hesitate to condone warfare, when it concerns mutual foes.

As for terrorists, well, quite frankly we are not at all satisfied with their behaviour. On the contrary, we wish to indicate our unanimous displeasure with their antics, in their entirety. The habit of blowing things up is unseemly – something which needs to be checked, and checked promptly; and we are quite prepared to raise an eyebrow – if not two – should it prove warranted”.

The manifesto’s authors always felt that keeping it light was generally the best way on such occasions. However, there comes a time when the decent among us must assert ourselves, and take a firm line. This we outlined thus:

“we found that the totalitarian appeasers in our midst, who suggested that liberating Iraq’s finest oppressed may not be the flawless idea we claimed, were flippant, and acting in dubious taste, with latte-sipping and bruschetta-nibbling aplenty. Explaining to such people that they should shut-up proved a most trying experience, in fact.

We attribute this to arrogance – something which continues to pervade the anti-war crowd, with its dogmatic certainty that invading a sovereign country and dismantling its infrastructure, precipitating a mass bout of looting, causing a subsequent breakdown of law and order, and consequently an insurgency which led to a civil war that caused hundreds of thousands in casualties – ultimately bringing years of chaos to the neighbouring region – was a bad idea, rather than the kind of poorly handled but necessary victory which history will look upon with kindness”.

If you ask me, the inability of such people to distinguish between a “disastrous invasion” (to use the overly emotive type of language they habitually employ) and a morally justified humanitarian intervention, demonstrates everything that is wrong with every last one of them. Well, they have a difficult question to answer, now – namely this: “will you unquestioningly support every foreseeable use of extreme violence in highly volatile situations, being perpetrated by governments who willfully mislead their electorates over even the most trifling issues; or be forced to admit that you are sympathizers who want to “understand” and marry terrorists?”. ‘Yes’ they would have to answer, if they were honest with themselves. Which they are not.

Page from the Euston Manifesto.

Page from the Euston Manifesto.

By contrast all signatories of the Euston Manifesto were solid people of good character and principles; without a bad word for others, between them. This did not stop them being impertinently disparaged as warmongers and chauvinists, by people who happened to be familiar with their columns in the Observer, their political affiliations, their published books, various academic treatises, along with their membership of dubious lobby groups, and their general demeanour. Contrary to what nefarious ne’er-do-wells have claimed, however, we were not merely using the occasion to settle personal scores with people who happened to have disagreed with us over the years, but were instead vanquishing enemies and inferior thinkers left, right, and centre. Mainly left, as it happens – in fact, solely left; but that is beside the point.

Our bold aim of endorsing a war for peace in Iraq – backed only by the governments and militaries of Britain and America, who between them promptly took a dashingly conceived, and skilfully executed whack at the villainous evil-doers in question – was very nearly scuppered by the sorts of people who had the cheek to question the intentions advanced by those of us who are right-thinking. Yet when we questioned their motives, by asking them whose side they were really on, and why they wanted fascism to prosper – let alone what really motivated their morally suspect obsessions – dispute swiftly ensued. Double standards galore. 

And now what do we see? Isis, no less – swanking about, in ladies’ pyjamas, the length and breadth of Iraq. This is not – repeat, not – a consequence of the original invasion of Iraq, and its subsequent rule by a brutal a sectarian government. No. It is because Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour party two years after the one event; and thirteen years after the other. In fact, it is safe to conclude that if you ignore the chronology of history, and the interposition of reality, then we have been proven completely right at every turn.

‘What explains this peerless track record?’ you may be inclined to ask – well, it is really very simple: a deportment comprising the buckling-to spirit, with a stiff upper lip, girded loins, an ability to keep one’s cool in all circumstances, and a willingness to act without considering the consequences at all times. Or to put it another way, adopting a most war-like mien and lending moral support to the military endeavors of Britain and America – primarily through the pages of the Observer; and the odd comment on Twitter.

We Eustonites backed up our words with action, and volunteered to meet the demands of solidarity in the face of tyranny, via the internet; quite in contrast to those who would rather look on and do nothing, than express support for bombing raids, from their office desks, thousands of miles away. The International Brigades did roughly the same sort of thing as us during the Spanish Civil War, and were well thought of in consequence. Not that one wishes to draw the obvious comparison, as modesty forbids.


Dubious sorts.

Is the rightness of liberating Iraq via the pages of Britain’s Sunday newspapers therefore really even open to debate, let alone dispute? You would think not; and yet I’m afraid that even the absolute, overwhelming military supremacy of the side we supported was no guarantee that our country’s peacefully-intended bombing campaigns would remain free from resistance – specifically, a few people on internet forums suggesting that we might have made a miscalculation or two with our personal gestures. Nor did it end there.

To my surprise – in fact, disgust – many people suggested that the methods employed by the Occupation forces were not quite as morally upstanding as we had given the public reason to believe. For example, academic-types contended that the use of torture on Iraqi detainees was a self-defeating approach to reducing radicalism, and served no valid security purpose at all; while being in breach of international law. Little did they realise, however, that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains no less than thirty articles; and as many as twenty nine make no reference at all to torture.

There were, of course, certain facts of the matter about the war, certain unambiguous truths, certain certainties – if you will – which may go some way towards explaining the anti-war crowd’s doctrinaire and somewhat negative attitude towards the act of leaving several hundred thousand people dead; instead of recognising it as the byproduct of their liberation. That is to say, it was for their own good – and were they alive today, they would undoubtedly shake us by the hand, and extend their gratitude.

At a conservative estimate, therefore, we can say that the invasion of Iraq succeeded beyond even the lowest expectations. Pretenses to the contrary seem to cross a line – and put us all on a very slippery slope indeed. Thinking things through leads to national betrayal – thankfully, some of us are prepared to demonstrate our patriotism on a daily basis.

Given the cynical response to all of this, however, all I can say is that the Euston Manifesto is more relevant today than ever. One sometimes wonders what the world is coming to. The iron-hand is the only thing, I say – anything else is mistaken for weakness. What will save the glorious fatherland from the forces and thought-processes of fascism? Our heroic soldiers, the great leaders of our state, and its immortal helmsmen in the media: whose means will be justified by the ends they have in mind.

Stay vigilant, comrades.