Following a disasterous vote in Parliament yesterday, where 66 “Labour” MPs voted in favour of shelling Syria, the news has been awash with sycophancy, none worse than the glowing reviews currently being slathered over Hilary Benn’s over-done performance.
The Shadow Secretary for Murder made what has been described as a “powerful,” “emotional” and “compelling” case for a bombing campaign that “moved MPs to tears” according to the Blairite rag that is the New Statesman. Every other say on the matter has basically been airbrushed from history – in favour of celebrating a speech that has dragged Britain into another blood-stained shambles of a conflict. Hooray for war. Hooray for slaughter. Hooray for repetitive strain.
But in the face of this ‘heroism’, polls run by the Mirror, who clearly hoped for a Blairite revival here, remain stacked against the reclaiming of Labour by the Right. One poll asking if Hilary should replace Jeremy Corbyn gave him an embarrassing 9% approval. That’d be a no then…
That’s because it is not heroic to back a wealthy elite desperate to line their pockets with another war. The speeches against war are the ones we remember – because it’s in no way natural to lust after mechanised slaughter. Tony Benn’s speech in 1998 against bombing Iraq will live on long after his son’s shameless capitulation fades out of memory, no doubt eclipsed by the next slavering war-monger.
It’s never been courageous to brainlessly back the status-quo. It’s why in cinema, the great speeches are generally in favour of averting disaster. The King’s Speech won’t be remembered beyond the decade for this reason – and why Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator is revived generation after generation, an immortalised classic.
It’s why, in difficult times for the show, Doctor Who’s recent anti-war polemic The Zygon Inversion gathered such popular clamour this remembrance day.
So what is your all time great anti-war speech, in television, film or elsewhere? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments – and we shall compile a cinematic countdown that shows this war is not in our name.