When you wish upon a star…

Thanks to the estimable Garibaldy over at CLR for bringing the cancer-enforced resignation of Oskar Lafontaine from his leadership position in Die Linke to my attention. Though undoubtedly a blow (and I do of course wish him all the best in his recovery), the reaction in the liberal media has been both predictable and – well, frankly, unhinged.

The Guardian vomits forth Oskar Lafontaine resignation leaves German political left in chaos! (The exclamation mark is my own, but I assume its omission was an oversight.) Elsewhere, its editorial posits tenuous-to-breaking-point parallels with the plight of the Labour Party in the UK. The thrust of the Guardian’s argument is that the departure of Lafontaine (the red menace made flesh) will result in a seismic rightward shift within Die Linke, leading inevitably to coalition, if not coalescence, with the SPD. At least, I think that’s the thrust of their argument; the English is as unintelligible as the analysis.

There’s a certain amount of mouse/elephant dynamic going on in relation to the Guardian’s perception of Lafontaine. Presumably, the writer heard him speak once and decided he represented the ne plus ultra of leftism, beyond which no passage was conceivable. In fact, Lafontaine is a relative moderate within Die Linke, although by no means an unprincipled one, and undoubtedly a capable¬† leadership figure.

What struck me most about the tenor of the Guardian pieces (aside from their arrant incoherence) was the element of wish-fulfilment contained within them. A similar tone is evident in the German press. What this bespeaks, I think, is the liberal media’s habituation to willing things into existence simply by declaring them so. Such-and-such a figure is “embattled” or “under pressure” in the editorials, and suddenly her or she finds himself embattled and under pressure in the real world. Such-and-such a measure is “unpopular” or “alienating key elements” in the editorials, and suddenly it is withdrawn.

Die Linke, happily, is likely to be more impervious to the magic editorial wand than most on the political landscape. There’s no doubt that the soul and direction of the party is up for grabs, but that has always been the case. The triumphalism of the liberals is misplaced, premature and highly encouraging. If they’re this worried, the avenue pursued by Die Linke may be leading in the right direction. Lafontaine’s unfortunate abdication may also represent an opportunity for the party to stand on its policies rather than its leader.

PS: The opprobrium greeting this ill 66-year-old’s departure from a lifetime of public service is pretty unsavoury. It’s certainly a contrast from the Lenihan treatment (not that, in a million years, I would withhold my good wishes from him either.)

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One Response to “When you wish upon a star…”

  1. Cass Flower Says:

    Yes – I noticed the snarky tone too. It’s years since I read the Guardian regularly. Distance has not lent enchantment.

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