February 2020. President Assad has gone on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, and leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn is being interviewed by the ever-smarmy Andrew Neil for the Daily Politics, just as the date of the General Election is due to be announced.
"Mr. Corbyn, President Assad has gone on trial for the most appalling crimes, documented in detail by members of his now fallen régime. You, as chair of the Stop The War Coalition, have denied his responsibility for those crimes, instead blaming Western intervention, and have even called friend his accomplices in Hezbollah. Why should the British people trust the Neville Chamberlain of our day, who would let the worst genocidal maniacs have their way, if he could only claim 'Peace in our time'?"
Syria is not Germany in 1939, the answer is not world war but to support those Syrians fighting Assad, but once Jeremy Corbyn and his friends in the Stop The War Coalition are finished destroying the credibility of left-wing politics for a generation, you would not know the difference.
If you're left-wing, and you aren't one of the handful that daily follows the Syrian revolution, you're going to think this is scaremongering. Because either you're part of the majority who still believe the conspiracy theories, like the US backs ISIS, or chemical weapons are just a hoax like Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. You'd all be in for a shock if you really cared about those things when the truth becomes plain in front of your face, but most will pass it off as not their fault, they were just trying to be skeptical or anti-imperialist, you can't blame them for that? The Syrians you didn't care about can, and will, and the region left the worst mess imaginable is partly there because you thought Russia Today, or the more sophisticated rendering of Patrick Cockburn, were a useful counterpoint to the mainstream media and politics driving us into another Middle East War, not realising that Western politicians didn't care about Assad, and the threat of military intervention was itself the hoax designed to stop us caring about Syrians.
Or you are one of the part-time supporters of the Syrian revolution. These people get very upset if you question what they've done to support the Syrian struggle, because they want to make it very clear that they aren't like those pro-Assad people, at least as long as their interest in Syria lasts. But when it comes to anything else they don't make the link. When it comes to Greece, it doesn't matter if you reprint the views of a supporter of the genocide in Syria. If someone is anti-Israel, it doesn't matter if they back Assad to the hilt. When it comes to British politics, it doesn't matter if Miliband lied when he claimed he stopped a war in Syria. Because Syria is an issue to keep in a box, and as long as you put the right label on it everything will be alright.
Those who've been following Syria day-by-day know this isn't adequate. Because Syria is different. In terms of the level, institutionalisation, and capitalisation of the violence. This is not just a repressive régime that tortures and murders a number of its opponents. It is one that is daily torturing and starving 150,000 people (and imprisoning another 50,000) more, in the most brutal way imaginable, and then selling survivors back to their families for large ransom payments. A régime like that can never be reformed to become less psychotic, too many of those running it have a stake and a responsibility for the way it is. Many of those with a part-time interest in Syria will say they don't need to see atrocity photos, that they know what is going on . But until you know the real scale of the Assad catastrophe, and understand that this goes on daily and has only been getting worse as Assad has been allowed to get away with it, you aren't going to see that the failure to support Syria is going to to come to dominate politics as time goes on, and it is only by bringing out the truth and seeing the links that any sort of progressive politics can be preserved. You can't talk about the crisis of refugees dying in the Mediterranean without pointing out that it is Assad who has driven so many Syrians out of the country, that it is the failure to back his opponents that has left the crisis to spiral out of control, or you are irrelevant. Better than the people still dismissing the torture photos as CIA fakes, but when the right-wing, we'll intervene when we want to, backlash comes, that won't help much in holding it back.
And I've only talked about torture, there is also the barrel bombing, the chemical weapons, the mass rape, the sieges, the mass burning of crops, and a whole bunch of other crimes to consider.
I don't know if Jeremy Corbyn is going to be leader of the Labour Party. I don't see some shift to the left that has taken everyone by surprise. Perhaps hordes of Telegraph readers have handed over £3 to encourage the Labour Party down a left-wing road. If it wasn't for Syria, I'd be all in favour of him. I don't think any of his opponents will provide anything other than reheated Blairism. But I do think that anyone who thinks he is going to revive Left-wing politics in this country is pissing in the wind. If there is going to be a progressive politics in this country, it will be one that has firmly rejected the politics of Stop The War, and clear that everything needs to be done to support the Syrian struggle, because otherwise we're all going to be portrayed as worse than Nazis.