month after the outbreak of the Second World War, John Maynard Keynes wrote a famous letter to the New Statesman:
‘The intelligentsia of the Left were the loudest in demanding that the Nazi aggression should be resisted at all costs. When it comes to a showdown, scarce four weeks have passed before they remember that they are pacifists and write defeatist letters to your columns, leaving the defence of freedom and of civilisation to Colonel Blimp and the Old School Tie, for whom Three Cheers.’
Keynes wasn’t being entirely fair. There were plenty of patriotic Leftists in 1939, even among the intelligentsia. He was, though, describing a certain type of Leftist – the type for whom hatred of British military action trumped every other consideration, including basic human rights.
Can you think of anyone like that today? A vegetarian throwback to the 1930s? An abstemious, well-intentioned, republican, bike-riding, bearded, anti-colonial crank? Someone who would rather side with Putin or Assad than accept that the UK’s intelligence services might have a point about something?