Thursday, 19 January 2012

Tom Harris in the bunker

Glasgow South MP Tom Harris has been forced to resign as Labour's adviser on new social media after parodying Alex Salmond as Hitler in the film Downfall.

Sparking much media debate over the permissable bounds of 'Nazi humour', anxious party chiefs were quick to distance themselves from Harris's latest blog indulgences.

Another mission statement, we must assume, of 'pristine' Miliband's New Improved Labour.

Yet, this is a petty offence, and paradoxical fall, when set against Harris's other defence of war criminals and reactionary outpourings.

The send-up is not particularly offensive. The subtitled dialogue in this fine movie has been changed by many pranksters, some to comic, if now cliched, effect.

There's no endorsement of the Nazis in Harris's spoof, no trivialising of the Holocaust. Nor, despite protests from some Jewish organisations, could its use be remotely construed as anti-Semitic. There's only the infantile depiction of Salmond and the SNP, hardly a crime, political or otherwise. Some of the lines are actually quite funny.

I suspect Harris is having a quiet chuckle and enjoying the limelight, despite having to make the mandatory mea culpa and relinquish his position.

The use of a war theme by a noted warmonger to castigate a noted anti-war politician is darkly ironic, serving, in a perverse way, to mask Harris's own complicities.

It's much less likely that 'Bomber Harris' will ever apologise over his promotional part in the catastrophic downfall of Iraq or his resilient support of Tony Blair.

There's also Harris's shameless record of defending Israel. From the murderous bombing of Gaza to the piracy killings of convoy peace activists, this 'constituent' has never been able to obtain any statement from Harris, a Labour Friend of Israel, condemning Israeli actions or advocating for Palestinian rights.

Factor in his rabid castigation of asylum seekers and other 'social flotsam' and we find a politician with little moral right to use any such smear devices.

Remarkably, amid this little 'fuhrer furore', none of the mainstream media has seen fit to mention these much darker aspects of Harris's CV - not even in the Guardian's Comment page. How telling.

Harris's fall from grace over this affair, rather than the aforementioned higher crimes, is symptomatic of what the liberal media and parliamentary class rank as 'offensive'.

His own mini 'downfall' may elicit some satisfaction, a certain schadenfreude. But it goes nowhere near exposing Harris's much more serious bunker politics.

On which useful word-associational note, Jonathan Cook has just written an excellent piece on Israel, Welcome to the World's First Bunker State.

With a little extra time now on his hands, perhaps Mr Harris might want a look at the darkening apartheid policies of the Netanyahu regime.


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