World Gone Bongo: Why the Left Loves Big Prat Putin

In today's World Gone Bongo column, Andy pleads with the left to grow up and condemn the big "prat" Vladimir Putin.


Andrew Churnwell

3/4/20222 min read

It gives me no pleasure at all to stick the boot into the Left once again. Yet here I am, accusing the Left of supporting Vladimir Putin, while sporting a frowny face and demanding that they grow up and get a grip. Don’t get me wrong. Some of my favourite people are dyed-in-the-wool lefties (Ian Dunt, James Ball, Stella Creasy, Finley Quaye, etc.), so trust me when I say that this article comes from a position of genuine concern rather than long-standing contempt for everything the Left stands for. Believe it or not, when I was a young man, I was something of a “lefty”—a real cool customer dressed head-to-toe in nonconformist denim with a porkpie hat that said “GROOVY” on it. But I grew out of that phase, got myself a solid haircut, and was seduced by charismatic centrist figures such as Kinnock, Blair, and Gummer.

Perhaps because I used to be one of them, I can understand the Left’s thinking on the Ukraine/Russia conflict. Russia is obviously a left-wing country, not to mention the birthplace of another famous Vladmir—the communist menace and wally-at-large Vladmir Lenin. But let’s get real: Putin is probably the biggest prat on the world stage, and now is not the time for ideology, tribalism, or cowardly silliness. When the conflict erupted little more than a week ago, I was livid—livid at the Stop the War coalition who are pettily condemning those baying for conflict escalation (in other words, hardworking Brits like me), and livid at hard-left Labour MPs who refused to get behind Sir Keir Starmer’s exciting plan of action.

I am proud to admit that I support military intervention in the Ukraine wholeheartedly, though only so long as I can retract my support for it if the intervention is unsuccessful. That to my mind is the only sensible way of approaching any conflict, and it’s certainly an approach that has worked well for me many times before. Although I’m no expert when it comes to armed conflict and European geography, I will say this much: thank heavens that hero of the Left, Jeremy Corbyn, who famously said that he wasn’t prepared to unleash nuclear armageddon on another country, isn’t PM in these turbulent times. At the same time, I cannot help but spend hours a day angrily imagining a parallel universe in which he has taken to the skies in a helicopter gunship (donning a silly Russian hat) in order to terrorise hardworking Brits for a sick kick. Whether he and Putin are in cahoots remains to be seen, of course, but one thing is for certain: the Left must grow up.