Tuesday, 17 July 2007


Political leaders run the risk of being killed. This is as true today as it has been always.

There are deaths in battle (that is rather rare these days), executions after due process, executions after false and very doubtful process, executions after ad hoc process, executions, and assassination.

Assassination attracts the most attention, and the most intricate and longest-lived of cause -of- death and hinterland scenarios; death in battle the least.

The death of Benito Mussolini has it all, in every category. Who shot him? Only the partigiano wartime aliases of those in the vicinity are known; why was he shot after some days when he was supposed to be in transfer to Allied forces (in that sector, the Americans), the theories fill books; why was Clara Petacci shot too - she was hardly Elena Ceau┼čescu and shooting non combatants might be frequent in civil wars but there was no heat of the moment in these killings.

On 28 April 1945 they were put to death; and later scenes that humiliated more those who carried them out than the corpses they despoiled contine to horrify. Guido Mussolini, the Duce's grandson, is asking a higher court to overturn a ruling that there can be no revelation of the true identities of the executioners, and no process against them; it was thought to be too long ago. The 1946 Togliatti Amnesty is ruled to have expunged any crime (or at least any punishment).

In their dreams it is too long ago.

Guido Mussolini has appealed on the simple ground that the truth knows no limit of time; and the circumstances surrounding those deaths are known in their entirety. He wishes to know the real names of those who killed his grandfather. If such time has passed that all of those events are history, then why not? And if it is still important, then why not?


Nick Drew said...

+ death from failure / shame (Chamberlain)

Now I don't know what you're getting at here HG, but shall we ...

*dons black cap*

simply ignore Blair and hope he just ... shrivels ?

hatfield girl said...

I do support the grandson ND; why shouldn't he know who killed his grandfather?

Some very cross comments offered here have argued there are no grounds for comparing the Labour regime to Fascist Italy.

It is interesting how many political leaders get it though, from one quarter or another.

This post got away from me before I was finished writing it ND; it suddenly announced it had posted itself and I had to grab it back. This is what I intended to say.

(The self-posting, may have been over enthusiasm from some of the denizens of this house).

Nick Drew said...

grounds for comparing the Labour regime to Fascist Italy

Based on today's Metronet news there is scope for some pleasantry about trains running on time

Gorbachev seems in quite robust health . . . which (when you think of it) was not to be anticipated

hatfield girl said...

We tend to view political leader death as happening elsewhere in time or space; rather like the tendency to regard democracy in the UK as entrenched and robust and its undermining happening only elsewhere, in other countries and in other days.

Actually (or do I mean actuarially) Labour has quite a death toll since the post War settlement. Nothing to match the USSR and satellites, but then the stakes are lower. Gorbachev made it but there was that moment in the dacha by the sea that so debilitated his poor wife.
Dubchek made it too, though in poor health afterwards, but not Nagy. Pinochet was lucky to have been picked up in England on his arrest warrant, while Milosovic seems to have had a Baader-Meinhof moment.

Gaitskill's was an untimely loss,as was John Smith, Robin Cook, and even Wilson undone so early; taken by ill health doesn't seem to strike the Conservatives, except for Iain Macleod.

Political obscurity seems a far safer life-style choice. And pushing oneself forward might involve more than the current crop of apparatchiks calculate.

Newmania said...

I suspect you of having a lingering affection for Mussolini HG .He cleared out the mafia didn`t he.
When I was travelling around Iraly I grazed on a book called " The dark Heart Of Italy" . It tried to explain the obsession with conspiracies and the fact the fascists were not ideologically defeated the way the Nazis were .
They simply went on in Italian life . I found this a startling thought .

Appropos of nothing , from an English point of view , having the darkest dark age it seemed odd to me to have a conception of history with an unbroken line to the Romans . There are Italian families I gather , who can trace their lineage that far back. Vincent Price , of all people , belongs to one of them.

Perhaps you will bump into Polly Toynbee HG . Do punch her on the nose if you do


hatfield girl said...

'They simply went on in Italian life.'

And their party is led by Mr Fini, N; Alessandra Mussolini is a politician. It's not permitted to call a political party The Fascist Party; that's about it in the way of restrictions. Berlusconi's government wasn't a Fascist government, it was a criminal and indicted leadership with populist policies, with some Fascist support. It's very interesting because the tendency to yell Fascist when what is attracting the accusation is rarely so and more usually right- wing populism, is commonplace among Guardian drabbies; so when there are true fascist characteristics on full display in their own Labour regime, they don't recognise them.

I've never met anyone in Italy who knows Toynbee, easier to punch her on the nose in London.

Sen. C.R.O'Blene said...

I haven't had a chance to look at this yet, but did Airey Neave's killers ever get named?

He would have been up there in the Callaghan years wasn't he?

There's quite a lot on record about conspiracies...

hatfield girl said...

When you mention a conspiracy theory S, you point at the real thing.

Just a list of mentioned as involved:
MI5, MI6, Enoch Powell, Livingstone, Earl Mountbatten, the CIA, American foreign policy objectives for Ireland and for Nato.

A thought: if it was an American foreign policy objective to achieve a united Ireland then Blair's 'legacy' centre piece, the devolution of northern Ireland and all that stuff with Good Friday agreements etc. is the diametric opposite of what Neave would have settled, with northern Ireland fully and irreversibly integrated into the United Kingdom, had he lived to take office under Margaret Thatcher.

Only murdering an English member of parliament in the palace of Westminster seems rather OTT for any secret service.

Whatever the various conspiracy theories, the thought that current and recent apparatchiks are in more danger than they might think in England as well, seems to be gaining.

Newmania said...

Interesting HG ..thanks

Anonymous said...

An unconfirmed rumour has it that Mussolini was shot not by partisans executing an Italian court martial death sentence but by the British Military Intelligence, allegedly to stop him from producing embarassing correspondence with Winston Churchill which Musso always carried with him in a briefcase as a safeconduct.

Unlike other political leaders, murdered dictators get what they deserve and neither they nor their descendants have any right to anything that concerns them, including the truth.

Anonymous said...

Is the truth of such things always that important I wonder??

hatfield girl said...

Dead political leaders are a bit like closing prices -hard to hide. So often events are manipulated around them, particularly if an interpretation of reality is being focused. For that reason they are always interesting - hence, presumably, the clusters of conspiracy theories round them too.

Or I'm just nosey Mutley.

I'm keen on the rule of law too, Citizen, out of hand killing sets such a bad precedent.

Electro-Kevin said...

Hmmm (sucks thumb)

I worry interminably that something trivial might happen to Tony Blair in the Middle East.

(Good piece, HG)

hatfield girl said...

It's hardly the eye of the storm, the Middle East, is it E-K; more like the bit that roars round and round full of stuff hitting everything.

I would guess the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia are the quiet eye, but they won't need Blair's attentions.

Newmania said...

An interesting set of posts by Tapestry and David Lindsay on Dale HG . It reminded me of your Angels in Marble .
I suppose about now you will be looking at the stars thinking further on the state of things...

"SHE walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that 's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light 5
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face; 10
Where thoughts serenely sweet express "

Something like that perhaps ? I look forward to your next thoughts . Come to think about serene and sweet is not exactly you but crossly discursive wouldn`t go so well would it ( Byron of course)

Sen. C.R.O'Blene said...


Yup, the Saudi link is beginning to be spun; hence the stories of capital punishment getting further to the front of the dead tree press pages.

You've hit a nerve here, well done.

hatfield girl said...

You wrote you weren't looking at romantic poetry these days N. Have they recaptured your soul? Did you think to take a quick sip and find yourself instead downing draughts of glorious images and English words, like colour washes pouring across your thoughts?

Night is when any walking is being done - the temperature was 41 degrees at 6.30pm yesterday; every shutter is shut, these are the days of the Sol Leone. Leopardi catches the breathless, humming, sunlit silence - the point where being bored becomes an interesting condition.

I shall get up at first light and post something; today it's far too hot.

hatfield girl said...

S, you've done it now; the Neave murder resonates at the merest tap of enquiry; and why wasn't there an Enquiry?

Newmania said...

Not altogether denying that you walk in beauty like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies HG. Good for you.

(I have been at Hatfield house today and you popped into my thoughts, sadly young master Newmania screamed the place down so we were swiftly in and out but had a nice walk.)

hatfield girl said...

Children never scream for nothing, not with a rational upbringing. He enjoyed the Park though, didn't he? Of course he wanted to run through those formal gardens and amazing glades.

As for accepting Byron, there is a cruel truth that you well know, N, that those who are beautiful, however defined by their culture, never lose the joy of being, come doubt, betrayal, care, whatever , there is always another glorious morning, another obeisance however small to the real thing -invariably acknowledged and returned; Lilith knows too.

To undermine a young child's sense of personal beauty and worth is an act of cruelty. We, (convinced from our earliest childhood that we 'walk in beauty') are derided by the despoiled. Do I care? Only for their spoiled lives.

Newmania said...

Well I may not be especially beauteous personally but I`m fairly certain I haven`t run around deriding. Phew ... the tightrope we mediocre types walk eh.