The Labour Party have fallen strangely silent about current events in Venezuela – an odd decision, given their close interest and apparent expertise on the topic. Richard Burgon, the Shadow Justice Secretary, hailed Maduro’s ascension to the presidency as a “victory for the Labour movement”, but has failed to respond to my requests for his views on his hero’s current policies. Diane Abbott, who said that “Venezuela shows that another way is possible” has become less vocal now that it turns out that “another way” might indeed be possible, but it involves having to eat your pets in order to stave off starvation. Jeremy Corbyn, who expressed his fawning “congratulations” to Maduro in a televised phone-in appears to have forgotten the dictator’s number.
Fortunately, when even the current Labour leadership can recognise that it’s wise to keep shtum, Ken Livingstone is always happy to offer up his two-penn’orth. Here he is quoted in The Times today:
‘Mr Livingstone said that Venezuela’s economic malaise stemmed in part from its reliance on its oil reserves which made it vulnerable to the crash in oil prices, but suggested that other factors had also contributed. “Hugo Chávez did not execute the establishment elite, he allowed them to continue so they’re still there. I think there’s a lot of rumours they’ve been blocking the important food and medicines and things like that because they control a lot of the companies,” he said. “And America has got a long record of undermining any leftwing government as well. So I suspect it’s not all just down to the problems of the [Venezuelan] government.”’
There we have it – if only Chávez had executed the “establishment elite” rather than charitably allowing them to live, then they wouldn’t now be sabotaging the glorious Bolivarian revolution. As Lenin wrote, “A revolution without firing squads is a waste of time”. As and when the Labour Party re-admit him when his suspension period is up, we’ll know if they agree.