About two years ago I acquired a copy of Tony Robinson’s book entitled ‘No Cunning Plan – My Unexpected Life, from Baldrick to Time Team and Beyond’ (PAN), published in 2017. In fact, my partner Gee and myself had taken our eldest daughter – Mei-An – to the local bookshop in Sutton on a Sunday afternoon (accompanied by baby Kai-Lin) to purchase a few books on science for children, as we were concerned about Mei-An’s school teaching religion to 4 and 5 years old before they had learned science, and teaching it as if all its claims were true! This is where I found Tony Robinson’s book which seemed logical and of the political left, which o course it is. Tony Robinson made a career for himself in the long-running Blackadder comedy series, and the even longer running Time Team (an admirable archaeological programme emphasising science and logical thinking). Recently, I have seen him in a number of history programmes exploring horrible and difficult jobs from the past. In one such episode covering medieval ‘medicine’ – Tony Robinson (for reasons only known to him), cut the head of a living eel with a knife live on camera for dramatic effect! Ten minutes later both Robinson and a co-presenter both laughed heartily when they realised the head of the eel was still alive!
Tony Robinson is a Labour Party supporter from what might be termed the compassionate left (the welfare of eels aside for a moment). As an actor he has often encountered leftwing organisations and movement within unions. He states he admires Leon Trotsky but gives no real reason why, whilst simultaneously denouncing ‘Militant’ – the Trotskyite organisation that had infiltrated the Labour Party and still exercises an influence today. Robinson’s description of Militant tactics is interesting and worth noting. Tony Robinson states:
‘I was serving a second term as the south-west Equity councillor, and I’d got involved with the Labour Party, first in my branch, and later at constituency and city level.
At the time a group of Trots were trying to take over the Labour Party. They were called Militant, and were similar to the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, but without the fashion sense. Their politics were even weirder than their clothes. Their strategy went something like this:
1) The Labour party is rubbish.
2) We’ll pretend it isn’t rubbish, and we’ll join it. (This policy was known as entryism and the various Trotskyist groupings argued long and fiercely about whether or not it was a good idea.)
3) Well meet in secret to ensure Labour promises to do lots of impossible things like nationalising the top hundred companies without compensation and under workers’ control. (Trots called these promises ‘transitional demands’. They liked the word ‘demands’. It conjures up a picture of an angry customer banging his fist on a shop counter because he isn’t being served quickly enough.)
4) The voters will love these demands and will vote Labour into power.
5) Labour won’t be able to deliver on its promises.
6) The voters will kick Labour out in disgust and start a revolution.
7) We’ll rip off our Labour Party disguises and say to the voters, ‘Ha ha! We’re the revolutionary leadership, so now we will lead you.’
8) The voters will say, ‘That’s great!’ Britain will become a socialist state, all the countries of the world will do the same thing, there’ll be world peace and everyone will get a free puppy.
Militant supporters would probably say I’m being simplistic (actually they’d say I’m being ‘reductive’, which is pretty much the same thing). But I don’t think I am. I’d got no beef with Leon Trotsky. He was one of the great political thinkers of the early twentieth century, and not all Trots were bonkers. I’d worked in Equity with members of the International Marxist Group for years, and always found them friendly and honourable. The problem with most of the Militants I met was that they were dishonest bullies, and put their faction’s interests ahead of the party they pretend to support. They had to be stopped.’
Tony Robinson: No Cunning Plan, – My Unexpected Life, from Baldrick to Time Team and Beyond, PAN, (2017), Pages 216-218
Tony Robinson appears to have no idea of Trotskyite history. In 1938 – at the height of Hitlerism – Leon Trotsky called upon his ‘Socialist’ followers to establish a so-called ‘Fourth International’ (not recognised by genuine Marxist-Leninists), and to form an alliance with the forces of International Fascism (i.e. with Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and their allies). The point of this ‘alliance’ was to invade and destroy the Soviet Union, with Leon Trotsky calling upon all Soviet Citizens to rise-up against the Soviet State and carry-out terrorist attacks on important civilian and military targets! Robinson’s description of Militant is in fact the general description of Trotskyism. Trotsky wanted personal power in the USSR at any cost and he was prepared to use the working-class in any way he could to achieve this but Lenin and Stalin protected the Revolution. The bourgeois ideology of Trotskyism developed to oppose Soviet Communism and destroy ALL Revolutions generated through genuine Marxist-Leninism. As a consequence, Trotskyites collaborate with capitalism whilst claiming to oppose it, and pursue a Eurocentric (i.e. ‘White’) bias whilst setting false-front ‘anti-racist’ and ‘anti-fascist’ organisations (tasked with securing Black and Asian recruits to blindly follow and support the ‘White’ Trotskyite power structure). Whilst pursuing a dominant Eurocentric narrative, Trotskyites refuse to condemn Israeli ‘Zionist’ violence against Palestinians as ‘racism’, but term Palestinian retaliation as ‘terrorism’. Their parasitic antics even extend to marches called around popular issues, with Trotskyites congregating around Tube Stops, train stations and bus stops, etc, handing-out placard containing catchy statements and ‘Socialist Workers Party’ blazoned across them! The Trotskyites then go safely home and do not take part in the effort, risks or dangers of the march!
Whilst both ‘admiring’ and ‘opposing’ the Trotskyites – Tony Robinson is opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party referring to it by a 2018 tweet as a ‘leftwing clique’. This would suggest that he is a Blairite opposed to genuine Socialism in the UK. This might be because that despite rising to fame playing a working-class character – Tony Robinson is actually middle class pursuing a bourgeois career whilst hobnobbing with members of the British Establishment. A rightwing (Blairite) Labour Party appeals to his centre-left mentality and sense of skewed social justice. Indeed, whilst standing for election to Labour’s NEC in 2000 – Robinson’s behaviour and that of his campaign team (which viewed genuine Labour politic as ‘ultra-left’) became widely known as ‘rightwing’. In the final analysis I would say Tony Robinson has a lot in common with the Trotskyites he so admires! It is a shame as someone of his stature could do very good work for society from a genuine leftist position.
The point often missed when analysing Labour Party history is the infiltration of that movement with Trotskyism from around 1930 onward, and to various degrees of effectiveness. The idea of the average Labour Party member being a closet ‘Communist’ (i.e. ‘Marxist-Leninist’) is very much a thing of the past. The Labour Party was partly founded by the British Socialist Party, but even in the late 1800s and early 1900s the Labour Party was being infiltrated by middle-class career politicians that sought continuous elected office, and possessed a vendetta against Scientific Socialism. When the British Socialist Party changed its name to the ‘Communist Party of Great Britain’ in 1921, the then bourgeois leaders of the Labour Party concocted a procedural ‘coup’ and ‘expelled’ the CPGB from within its ranks on the fallacious grounds that it was a ‘new’ organisation unaffiliated to the Labour Party. When the CPGB tried to ‘affiliate’ to the Labour Party it had helped to find – the application was refused. Added to this was a permanent ‘proscription’ which ‘bans’ any member of the Communist Party joining the Labour Party (on the grounds that the aims and objectives of the Communist Party – i.e. the empowering and freeing of the working-class – are incompatible with those of the Labour Party). This duplicitous and anti-working-class attitude within the Labour Party might well be described as a Trotskyism before its time! The obvious rightwingism of Tony Blair has been romantically associated with the assumed influence of Margaret Thatcher, when in fact it probably has more of an association with regular Trotskyite ideology. Blairism embraces racism as just another point of view (hence Tony Blair’s eulogising of the odious Enoch Powell), and his aggressive ‘Oil Wars’ and regime changes around the world. I would say that this type of hardnosed Labourism attracts people like Tony Robinson who like to think that their rightwingism is somehow morally superior than its Tory equivalent, when in fact it shares exactly the same bourgeois roots.