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Radio 4 is so lost in establishment liberalism it does not know how to break out of it. The BBC's managers accept that they must give a hearing to the currents in public life they habitually ignore. But like a teetotaller on his first binge or a vicar on his first visit to a brothel, they do not experiment cautiously but go wild at the first sniff of a novel experience and hand the airwaves over to the strangest group produced by the Seventies far Left: the Revolutionary Communist Party.

The best way to describe it is as a cult that followed the teachings of its great helmsman, one Frank Furedi. The best way to understand the paranoia of its politics is to add that Furedi spent years working under the assumed name of "Frank Richards" because, like Lenin and Trotsky before him, he wanted a nom de guerre to throw the spies of the imperialist state off his trail. 

In the 1990s, the party's leaders decided to give up on socialism and move into the media. And like good Leninists, the rank and file obeyed their superiors' orders and abandoned their previous convictions on demand. The Moral Maze is now its base at the BBC and is on the radio as I write. Claire Fox of the Institute of Ideas, which the party's cadres founded when they decided that Trotsky was wrong after all, is on the panel and one of the witnesses is a contributor to Spiked, the institute's online journal. When I last appeared on the programme, one of the witnesses was Brendan O'Neill, the editor of Spiked, and half the panel — the author Kenan Malik and James Panton, an Oxford academic — were Spiked regulars. I waited for Michael Buerk, the presenter, to tell listeners that a fair proportion of his guests came from this cosy coterie. He never did. 

Nor do his colleagues. If you come across a new voice on a Radio 4 talk show, talking with loudmouthed conviction, the odds are that he or she will be from the RCP/Institute of Ideas. Indeed, if you want to become a talking head on Radio 4, the best advice I can give you is to join the RCP crowd. 

As an aspiring pundit you will need to subscribe to the following notions: that the British mollycoddle their children and foolishly protect them from the rough and tumble of childhood with anti-bullying campaigns; that human rights are a joke and humanitarian intervention a crime; that we live in a therapeutic culture, under whose yoke the State tells us how to live, love and grieve; that social workers are agents of oppression; that psychiatrists aren't much better; and that environmentalism is a reactionary attempt to stop human progress. 

I find the RCP's denunciations of humanitarianism thoughtless and its condemnations of teachers' campaigns against the bullying of children repellent. Furedi and O'Neill do not strike me as men who could look after themselves in a fight. If a couple of guys were to ask them to step outside, I doubt if they would describe the violence they suffered as character building and condemn police attempts to prosecute their assailants as political correctness gone mad. 

However, in fairness, I must accept that not everything the faction says is pernicious and that the oddest milieus can nurture good writers. Although most of its thinkers are doctrinaire and shallow, the RCP/Institute of Ideas deserves credit for producing an intellectual of stature in Kenan Malik, whose description of the rise of Islamist censorship in his book From Fatwa to Jihad (Atlantic, 2009) took some guts to write. Moreover, I understand that conservative readers will be pleased that the former RCP now offers them what they used to find in the Tory press or hear from the lips of saloon-bar philosophers at the 19th hole. 


If you want to become a BBC pundit, join the ex-RCP crowd

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RCP Watch
July 12th, 2011
12:07 PM
Heartfield is the Dear Leader's right-hand man, and has been both the RCP's intellectual leader and wannabe Trotsky since the cult's earliest days, when it held, in all seriousness, a weekend school called Preparing for Power (this in '85 or '86). He's at best disingenuous, at worst plain mendacious, when he writes that the RCP "would not support the military intervention in Bosnia". If the sect had simply opposed Western imperialism, as so much of the Left did, it wouldn't have attracted any notice. Instead, following Lenin's dictum of support for countries under imperlialist attack, the RCP's very busy representatives on Usenet repeatedly declared "unconditional support" for the Serbian regimes. RCP members and supporters never deviated from the party line, so it's a cert that this is what the RCP's unofficial party line was, and clearly explains LM magazine's 'partiality' towards Milosevic and Karadzic. No matter that their regimes were genocidal and actively pursued 'ethnic cleansing' and carried out numerous massacres of ethnic Muslims (including Srebrenica, which one RCP-nik stated baldly "never happened"), they were under attack from Western imperialism and thus required "unconditional support". It helped that the RCP was unique in this line, as this gained it lots of notoriety and publicity, and fitted in with its general contrarian attitude. For more on this, see the RCP Watch blog post at: https://rcpwatch.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/unconditional-support/

Anonymous
January 8th, 2011
7:01 PM
For more on this group, see this resource: http://www.powerbase.info/index.php/LM_network

James Heartfield
June 30th, 2010
4:06 PM
What you used to say was that the RCP had betrayed the left - because it would not support the military intervention in Bosnia. Then the whole of the left turned round and said that you had betrayed the left - because you did support the war in Iraq. It is a bit rich for someone who has only ever been an opinion page columnist to complain about other people trying to air their opinions: 'hands off that microphone, it's mine', you seem to be saying. You are right, it is more complicated than that - too complicated for you to understand.

knowsis
June 28th, 2010
5:06 PM
Oh, Nick and never forget, which I’m sure you don’t that the plethora of Leninist groups hate each other more than their mortal enemy? In the dictionary under sectarianism it says ‘see communist groups’ Denis Healy to former Grandee MP from the Labour Party once said; “If your not a communist when your 20 your dead from the neck up and if your still a communist when your 30 your dead from the neck up”. He also referred to the Trotskyite Militant Tendency as “the Moonies of the Labour Party”. I found this very amusing, and a truism. I was in Militant HQ at the time and very few saw the truth in this or the funny side. It is certainly true that many ‘Leninist’ groups, even today, still behave as if we are in a ‘Pre-revolutionary situation’. And still practice the totally undemocratic way of running their organs by the Leninist method of Democratic Centralism. And yes they are collectively Cults. There is a religious zeal about most of the far-left/Ultra-left groups. And whilst you are right Nick to point out the lack of knowledge or awareness of BBC’s Radio Four ‘The Morale Maze’ about the RCP and there role today George ‘Budget-Boy’ Osborne may be the best recruiting sergeant the far left have had since Maggie T? I point to Professor Denis Tourish on Cults and the far-left; ‘Ideological Intransigence’ is an article of his on this very subject that I have. But never forget that many of the top Neo-cons in the USA [and some here] were Trotskyites themselves and those that advised G W Bush to go to war in Iraq were ex-trots themselves. For some to jump from the far-left to the extreme-right may not be so difficult?

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