What’s Left? The Guff of Tonkin

In his list of upcoming books, Boyd Tonkin, the literary editor of the Independent writes:

Nick Cohen delivers a scathing report on radical alternatives in What’s Left? (Fourth Estate, February), to which the long, brave life recounted in Kenneth O Morgan’s Michael Foot (Macmillan, March) will make its own reply.

It was kind of him to mention me, but can you see what he’s trying to do? On the one hand, there am I delivering a ‘scathing’ critique of the Left, and on the other, there is the ‘brave’ figure of old Footie offering his long life as a rebuke and reply. Except that What’s Left? is a book suffused with the anti-totalitarian and internationalist values of the democratic Left, of which Michael Foot is a part. I consulted him, quoted him in the chapter on the 1930s and thanked him in the acknowledgements.

Don’t literary editors read books anymore?

The liberal consensus is now in a hysterical state. It is making excuses for movements of the far Right and abandoning liberals, feminists and socialists in the poor world. When you point out its betrayals, you are accused of betrayal yoruself. I expect a lot more in this vein.

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