Arty McBain is a former Conservative Party official who has recently returned from an advising a foreign centre-right movement.
What on Earth is going on at The Times?
We have sat uneasily as we read its equivocation about the Sri Lankan people’s final victory over the the world’s most sadistic communist rebellion after a 26 year war. We have gasped at its South Asia correspondent’s plea for sanctions against Sri Lanka in the wake of its democratically elected government’s victory. But this week, we reeled as The Times ran this deranged leader parroting Soviet-era communist propaganda about the Spanish Civil War.
Those of us who can remember before 1989 were suddenly plunged back into the bizarre world of socialist reality that we used to read in the Morning Star and a thousand other socialist rags: a world in which friendly communists with their peaceful death squads bravely defended freedom and democracy from vicious fascists thanks to the help of sunny Uncle Joe, while the democratically elected villains of the West shamefully looked the other way.
Bear with me on this. We need to go on a short journey.
Imagine that in 1977, Jim Callaghan’s Labour Government had forced the Queen into exile and established a republic. Imagine that at the 1979 election Labour had gone into third place. But imagine that the socialist President refused to give the election-winner, Mrs Thatcher, the commission to form a government and appointed David Steel as Prime Minister instead.
Incredible, right? There’s more.
Imagine that the next year, David Steel agreed to include 3 token Conservative ministers in his government. Imagine that because of this mild concession, Arthur Scargill led an armed rebellion of miners that killed thousands, burned down Durham University and fought the Army for 2 weeks.
It gets crazier.
Despite this, imagine that Scargill quickly became Leader of the Labour Party on a platform of “bloody workers revolution” and that at the next election a hard-left front of Labour, Nationalists and the Communist Party took power. Imagine that the Communist Party had created this coalition on Stalin’s orders as a tool for a establishing a Soviet Spain.
We’re almost there. But hold onto your hat.
Imagine that five months after the election, the Communist leader taunted the Leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher, across the despatch box that she would never make another speech. And imagine that a couple of days later, Mrs Thatcher was abducted and knifed to death in a police van. And that the murderer was – wait for it – the Labour leader’s personal driver.
Then imagine that Maggie’s funeral was attacked by armed leftists who killed four people.
Finally, among all this horror, imagine how you would feel when you heard, just a few days afterwards, that the Army was staging a coup.
Would you take up arms to defend a new regime that had thrown out the monarchy; that despite boasting of being democratic had refused to appoint an elected Conservative Government; that had killed our party leader; arranged or allowed violence and murder against us with impunity; that was heavily penetrated by Communists with the usual agenda and in which even the Labour leader called for “bloody” revolution?
Or would you take the view that under the circumstances a period of rule by the Army might be the lesser of two evils?
Because this is pretty much what actually happened in Spain between 1931 and 1936.
However, you would never know this if you read The Times on Tuesday 26th May, when it printed in the guise of a leader something that read very much as if it had been drafted before 1989 by the International Department of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Because according to The Times, “It is never too late to celebrate the bravery of the International Brigade”, the survivors of which have been granted honorary citizenship by Spain’s socialist government.
The brigades were units of Communists and dupes illegally recruited on Stalin’s orders by local Communist Parties from among bored unemployed lads across the depression-hit West. They were sent to be cannon fodder for the Spanish regime, which as the war went on became simply a Communist front. As well as dying for Stalin in moderately impressive numbers, they also helped repress the Communists’ internal opponents within the regime. Not for nothing was the British battalion named after the Communist MP for Battersea.
The Brigades’ overall military impact can be summed up in their famous communiqué: "today, our advance continued without loss of land". But their propaganda value was exactly as Stalin had anticipated, as evidenced by The Times still falling for it 70 years later.
If you read the leader, you will recognise the Moscow Centre propaganda style-book from your own experience of leftist propaganda in our own time.
First, the regime (a murderous hard-left coalition fronting for the Communists, aiming at revolution) is always ‘democracy’, ‘the legitimate democratically elected government’ etc. In reality the government had been taken over by those committed to ending democracy and taking Spain into the Soviet orbit. This was why democratic western politicians did so little to help it. It was the classic communist practice of democracy – one man, one vote, once.
Second, the rebels (reactionary Catholic-nationalist authoritarians) are always ‘fascists’. Actually the fascistic party in the Nationalist coalition had taken only 0.7% of the vote in the election and no reputable political scientist describes the Franco regime as fascist, despite it receiving aid from Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany. ‘Fascist’ is simply the Communist insult of choice. If you were a Conservative student in the 70s or 80s you would have been called a fascist on a daily basis by people whose beliefs in state power were far nearer Hitler and Mussolini’s than your own. As we have seen, any opponent of the regime was defined as a ‘fascist’ and anyone who was not a socialist had to be an opponent of the regime because it did not recognise their right to win elections.
Third, Communist leaders become national statesmen and speak for the people: bloodthirsty demagogue Dolores Ibarruri, the Leader of the Communist Party who had threatened Conservative leader Calvo Sotelo with death across the parliament chamber before his assassination, is elevated to ‘Republican Leader’ from the Stalinist stooge she was. In truth, Ibarruri’s manic drive for revolution and penchant for murdering her opponents had provoked a civil war that resulted in a quarter of a million deaths. In exile in 1945 she continued her usual murderous methods against purged party rivals. She received the Order of Lenin.
Fourth, the Communists are fighting for freedom and democracy. Possibly the most obscene lie swallowed and regurgitated by The Times. We are expected to accept that Communists supposedly fought for that in which they did not believe; in fact, which they existed to snuff out with maximum bloodshed. The International Brigaders wasted their lives, as all who died promoting Communism wasted their lives. But it is not those who died promoting Communism that we should be commemorating, it should be their victims. Of whom there are hundreds of millions more. Shame on The Times.