John O'Farrell - the candidate who backed Argentine fascists

Feb 27, 2013
Crispin Black

Why did Ed Miliband allow Labour, which is backed by many patriots, to pick O'Farrell for Eastleigh?

Getty Images

John O'Farrell

JOHN O'FARRELL, the Labour party candidate in tomorrow's Eastleigh by-election, and the man who insisted John Major's Spitting Image puppet should be entirely grey (he wrote for the show in the late 1980s), backed the Argentines in the Falklands War. It is something he freely admitted in a best-selling book published in 1998.

This should have been a seriously damaging confession, even for a comedian and even if accompanied by an apology – not that there was one at the time or since. As far as I know, he is the first public figure to "come out" over the Falklands and seems to be proud of it.

It is an astonishing thing for any British subject to have felt.

It is not like wanting Real Madrid to win against Manchester United next month because you are a City or Liverpool supporter, or just don't like United much. Football is football.

This was a war fought by O'Farrell's own countrymen against the armed forces of a fascist junta that had invaded British territory – and he backed the fascists.

Defeat in the South Atlantic would not have been pretty. When the Argentines surrendered on 14 June 1982 the Task Force was running out of just about everything, including medical supplies and food. Even in victory we were stretched. Imagine how rough it would have been if we had lost.

A necessary precondition to O'Farrell's Argentine victory, as he must have understood at the time, was the destruction of one or both of our aircraft carriers, which they nearly managed, thus allowing the Argentine air force air superiority over the islands.

They could have bombed ships at will – a Bluff Cove everyday. No doubt as a student at Exeter University O'Farrell had his fingers crossed during every BBC bulletin, hoping that another Royal Navy ship had been sunk.

O'Farrell has admitted sympathy for the IRA – he was disappointed that the Brighton bombers failed to kill Mrs Thatcher - so it's hardly surprising that he doesn't care about British servicemen. But a British defeat would have cost a lot of Argentine lives and misery as well.

Argentina's military junta would have earned itself a new, possibly semi-permanent, lease of life. The victors of the Malvinas would have been difficult to dislodge. Their 'dirty war' – killing and imprisoning trade unionists and young student activists with socialist views similar to O'Farrell's - would have continued and intensified.

The cruelty of some of the Argentine security forces, including military personnel, beggars belief.

To take just one example: young socialist expectant mothers were allowed to survive in captivity and were then despatched immediately after giving birth. Imagine the anguish – giving birth to a child knowing that it will be adopted by the very people who are about to murder you and that the child would never know of its real mother.

The generally accepted figure for the dead and disappeared is 30,000. O'Farrell wanted these people to win.

Labour leader Ed Milliband has made much of his own background as a son of refugees from Nazi persecution. At his last conference speech he made an emotional tribute to Ruth First, the brave South African anti-apartheid campaigner murdered by a letter bomb sent by BOSS, the apartheid regime's brutal secret police.

And yet Miliband has endorsed as a candidate a man who wishes Lady Thatcher had been murdered by the IRA and who backed General Galtieri's repellent, homicidal junta in the Falklands war.

The history of the Falklands War is not fully written yet. My feeling is that over the years Mrs Thatcher will come out of it less well than she has so far.

She interfered directly in the conduct of operations to the detriment of military efficiency. The war would not have happened if her government had not signalled indifference about the fate of the Falklands and embarked on a disastrous programme of naval cuts. The Franks Report, which exonerated her government from any blame, would have made Lord Hutton blush.

Worst of all, Thatcher seemed to have been exhilarated by the whole thing.

Not everyone admired her. I served in a regiment whose soldiers were entirely Welsh, many of mining stock, who had little time for the then prime minister. It is fair to say that in a roundabout way she was a kind of war profiteer - benefiting greatly from a war that was partly her own fault. But to want her assassinated and General Galtieri to win was an unforgiveable reaction.

I just cannot in this case understand Ed Miliband's moral sensibility. How can he allow himself or his party, which gets the vote of many patriotic Britons, to be associated with O'Farrell? Is Miliband a 'dirty war' denier - someone who doubts the statistics of the 1973-83 Argentine repression? Or does he too wish the British had lost?

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

I would really like guys like this to be slung out of the country & he is now a Labour party candidate they must be mad

I'm always a little cautious about statements like "The war would not have happened if her government had not signalled indifference about the fate of the Falklands and embarked on a disastrous programme of naval cuts."
It's on a par with saying that the UK somehow provoked Argentina to invade a British Overseas Territory and try to subjugate the population.
No. "We didn't think you'd mind" is not a valid excuse for waging a war of agression because you didn't get what you wanted from negotiating.
Admittedly reducing the defensive presence on the Falkland Islands wasn't exactly a smart thing to do, but please lay the blame for the war with the Junta, where it firmly belongs.

Aww, look at you Crispin... Fulminating about a war the British fought over land that is not theirs. So sad the Empire has been whittled down to a pile of rocks called Falklands. Hehehehehehe

This article could not have been written by anybody who had actually read O'Farrell's book, rather than relying on what they've been told it says.

In fairness to O'Farrell he has owned up. He may just be ashamed. Currently however, many on the left over look the avowed war aims of the Islamofascists the better to link arms against 'the west' in what must be, even for this smug little, right little island, a unique alliance. Pin up boy of the leftists, Iran, murdered all its real left wingers and trades unionists long ago and the few who escaped are regularly branded as American puppets if they speak out. What does Mr O'Farrell say to them?

I think the ranting tone of this article says more about Crispin Black than John O'Farrell. I and, I suspect Mr Black, have not read John's book so not sure what he said. But suspect he felt that Argentina had a rightful claim to the islands not that he wanted to our troops beaten and aircraft carriers sunk. I like the week for the breadth of opinions expressed but really should this guy get such prominence?

This really is an idiotic point to make. Without quoting from the book either. Lazy journalism from the most dull of rent-a-quotes...

Has anyone looked at the historical viewpoint? There are conflicting opinions as to who actually owns these desolate islands. The fact is that the nationalistic Thatcher knew at the time of the invasion, that there were extensive oil fields in the vicinity, THAT was the real reason why she went to war, with the subsequent shocking loss of Life. Nearly fifteen hundred lives lost - for bleeding what? Pride? As for the IRA and their political agenda. Does anyone on this blog actually defend the rantings of Paisley and his ludicrous stance on Northern Ireland. Like the Irish I believe in a United Ireland. And yet when for example, the independence for Scotland issue is raised, the intransigent distorted minds of colonial Britain's MP's refuse to consider the wishes of Salmond and his patriots. What bleeding hypocrites the British are.

Shouldn't the Argentine's take their case of sovereignty to the Courts of International Justice for a decision over ownership of the Falklands. Perhaps they won't because er , they have no legal case. The 3,000 Falkland Islanders also have the right to self determination and do not wish to become part of an Argentine colony just like the people of the Canary Islands do not wish to become part of Morocco.

Crispin Black has obviously never read the book as all O'farrells comments are totally taken out of the Humerous, self deprecating context in which they are written.It is sloppy right wing journalism like this that has stopped me subscribing to The week.

I guess Ed thought that since he couldn't win he might as well do his best to give up Labour voters boost UKIP.

Dear oh Dear. What a pathetic person you must be to find that funny.

Your choice of screen name looks childish (unless it happens to be your name).

He's not even read the book.

I wonder how many of Crispin's 446 voters (0.9%) in 2010 had a good harrumph reading this woeful piece? He referred to it as british territory but ignores the fact that the residents (not including those with wool) did NOT have automatic right to reside in the UK at the time - unless a grandfather (sic!) had been UK born.
Thatcher was for the chop with almost 4M unemployed (North Sea oil revenues barely covered welfare payments) as the Nasty party abolished british industry and tried to flog off the Ark Royal (to the argies at one ironic point).
The only thing that saved her regime ( and broke Britain for a generation, at least) was a khaki election.

To paraphrase DrK, it was a pity both sides couldn't have lost.

More hypocritical right wing rhetoric from this complete joke of a journalist. Right down there in the gutter with his reprehensible and utterly contemptible article on the late Pat Finucane.

I am no great fan of the British Empire, in all sorts of
places the British colonial authorities left a mess and did bad things trying to assert ‘authority’ (for example Kenya, Palestine, Cyprus, Ireland, the Bengal Famine of 1943 when there were unreleased food stocks).

Although there were various small settlements on the
Falklands at various times involving different countries, whether Argentina has a well founded claim is questionable. Some see the Argentine claim as being based on some sort of proximity (although the islands
are several hundred kilometres from Argentina).
It is not really like the ‘Malvinas’ are some sort of lost Argentinian homeland – although some make it out to be a cause central to the soul of Argentina. Britain’s
presence in the Falklands would seem to be at least as well-founded as European colonization of Argentina and did not involve indigenous people issues. Perhaps
more pertinent a question for modern Argentina is how well the “nations” (the indigenous people who were living in the area now Argentina ) have fared – and that might be the real elephant in the room.

Mrs Thatcher sent out the wrong signals by intending to remove HMS Endurance, and perhaps more importantly did not take note of the signals (including from her own ministers) that Argentina might invade the Falklands - for this Mrs Thatcher should have been hold responsible, instead of subsequently benefiting politically from a possibly unnecessary war that
involved the death of about 250 British and 750 Argentinians, plus all the injuries both physical and mental (250+ British service personnel have committed suicide). Hopefully history will re-evaluate
Margaret Thatcher’s role in the Falklands War.

Although Argentina suffered the hundreds of casualties in the war, it did result in the demise of the truly appalling fascist junta (which had killed thousands of Argentinians) and the re-emergence of democracy in Argentina. If some sensible position can emerge, then the Falklands/Britain should look at sharing resources like fisheries and oil exploration with Argentina.