At UK level, the Labour Party is still struggling with the whole issue. Silly and wholly uncomradely remarks made by Ken Livingstone didn’t help, of course. But some of the Labour Party’s own MPs have succeeded in giving the impression that they are quite happy to have a review of the party’s policy as long as the review is conducted only by people who agree with the current policy and doesn’t include anyone who might actually want to question it. Sir Humphrey would be proud of them.
Whilst Livingstone’s comments were quite rightly turned upon, his silliness and his subsequent apology have unfortunately diverted attention away from the substance of the views being put forward by the MP he attacked, Kevan Jones. As the BBC reported, Mr Jones said “I'm not sure Ken knows anything about defence. It will only damage our credibility amongst those that do and who care about defence”.
Whilst he did not deserve the personal attack to which he was subjected, his view does need to be challenged. It’s a very dismissive view to adopt towards any alternative viewpoint – in effect, he’s saying that ‘credibility’ means agreeing with him. It’s a classic example of the way in which conservative politicians of all parties attempt to close down debate and restrict the range of opinion which can be discussed – and it avoids the substance of the issue completely.