Monuments to Conscientious Objectors,
Fri 19th Jul 2013
The Irish Free State that became the Irish Republic was not founded by the IRA. It was founded by people who had split from the IRA, by people who had broken alliances with it, by people who had always opposed it, often at terrible cost to themselves, and by people who had studiously stayed out of the whole business.
Likewise, Kenya was not founded by the Mau Mau. It was founded by people who had split from the Mau Mau, by people who had broken alliances with it, by people who had always opposed it, often at terrible cost to themselves, and by people who had studiously stayed out of the whole business.
Therefore, the IRA violently subverted the Irish Free State and the Irish Republic for decades after independence. And therefore, the Mau Mau violently subverted Kenya for decades after independence.
But if, in order to placate the Sinn Féin electorate or whoever, the Irish Government ever felt like erecting an official monument to the IRA, then obviously it could tap Her Britannic Majesty’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the cost. Obviously, since that is what the Kenyan Government has managed to do in order to erect, for reasons best known to itself, an official monument to the Mau Mau.
The news having got about that I had re-joined the Labour Party, I was lately summoned into the presence of one of the most influential trade union leaders, certainly in the North East, and at least arguably in the country. In quite possibly the most profitable meeting that I have ever had with anyone, we discussed two grave matters.
One of them was the possibility of erecting, depending on how you looked at it, either three monuments or a three-part monument. Perhaps a pyramid, or a triangular column. Perhaps three tablets side by side. But in any event, one part commemorating those who rendered non-military service during the morally ambivalent and civilisationally catastrophic conflict of 1914 to 1918.
A second part commemorating the ILP Contingent, which went to Spain in order to fight Fascism, but whose members were killed there by the agents of Stalinism. And the third part commemorating the Palestine that from 1920 to 1948 existed as a country on the map, under the British Crown as a Commonwealth country with the Union Flag of its own until bombed out of existence by the founders of modern terrorism. Those did not relent, but if anything the very reverse, while the British Commonwealth was fighting the Third Reich.
There are monuments to conscientious objection generally but that is not quite what this project is about. There is a small plaque to the ILP Contingent in the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. But nothing to compare with the Soviet-directed International Brigade’s considerable monument, at which an annual ceremony is held on London’s South Bank, together with at least four more memorials in England, three in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland, two in the Irish Republic, and one in Wales.
To British Palestine, and to those who fell in and for her, there is no monument anywhere in the world. That is nothing short of a national disgrace. But, like the other two, the matter is now in hand. Anyone who might be able to make a contribution, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. And why not public money? After all, if the Mau Mau can have some.