Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Democracy, Vietnam & Stalybridge Celtic

We get a box of fruit and vegetables grown locally delivered every week, to show support for Cumbria's farmers and to avoid putting any money in the pocket of the supermarkets. Everything always gets eaten and if there is anything left then we make it into a soup which gives us lunch for a couple of days.

I mention this because it was while I was enjoying a bowl of leek and potato soup and listening to Radio 4's World at One today, that a Labour adviser, being interviewed by Martha Kearney, confirmed the points I had made in my blog this morning. He thought that the convergence of Labour and the Conservatives into the centre ground was bad for democracy because voters were being denied a real choice. He also went on to say that it definitely wasn't the way forward for the Labour Party which was losing support hand over fist in its traditional heartland . . . and we all know where that support is going.

There have been a few emails over the blog entry concerning the Vietnam War. My interest in the 20th century history of Vietnam is anything but support for American involvement there after the country was divided at the Geneva Conference in 1954. American foreign policy was a disaster for Vietnam and the Vietnamese people.

I also get irritated by those who dismiss Ngo Dinh Diem as an American puppet. Once they start down that track I know that they have only read the one book on Vietnam - Stanley Karnow's Vietnam - A History. Diem and his brother Nhu were nationalists who had the best interests of Vietnam at heart. A great many Vietnamese thought so too because when the country was about to be divided, over 1 million people left their property and belongings behind in the North to move to the South to be under Diem's rule rather than that of Ho Chi Minh. America's involvement there was never about Vietnam or the Vietnamese people, but just about confronting Russia and China.

When I was running my 'Books on Vietnam' website I was always being asked to recommend books. Obviously it depended on what the reader was really after, but if, like me, they were interested in the time when French rule was coming to an end, I always pointed them towards Lucien Bodard's The Quicksand War. This book provides a vivid picture of what Vietnam was really like in the early 1950s. Once you have read it you will know why the Americans were destined to fail and acknowledge the massive achievement of Diem to bring order and stability to the country.

UPDATE: In yesterday's blog I said that Stalybridge Celtic were one place below Workington Reds in the Conference North table. Well they beat Gainsborough Trinity 5-1 last night and are now one place above us. Let's just hope that the scoreline included the goals they were going to score this Saturday as well.

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