Friday, 7 December 2018
An early memory – and this must have been during the run up to the election of 1966 – is of being corralled in the school yard by a gang of older kids demanding “Labour, Liberal or Conservative?” Not having a clue what these words meant, I spluttered “Conservative” merely because it was the word that sounded most impressive. It turned out this was the right answer, given that the big kids were largely of farming stock and aping their parents’ views of the time. Thus I escaped the Chinese burns and dead-legs administered to those who responded differently; I survived my first encounter with political brutality.
Since then, I have taken an increasingly keen interest in politics. Not as an activist, but as an avid bystander. I have seen how politicians are straw people, bending in the slightest breeze and eminently biddable. I’ve seen how polls are used, not to consult on policy, but to shape opinion and manufacture consent. I’ve marvelled at the ease with which a partisan soundbite can shape the zeitgeist; ‘poll tax’, ‘fat cats’, ‘tax cuts for their friends’, ‘New Labour, new danger’, etc. And I never been disabused of my basic belief that even otherwise very clever people can be demonstrably very stupid and very gullible.
Politics is broken right now, as a result of too little democratic control and too great an assumption of power by the elected, aided and abetted by the kind of idiocy that culminates in this idiot Cambridge ‘academic’ suggesting children should be given a vote. If this turns out to be a spoof then it wasn’t nearly funny enough, erudite enough or clever enough, because when some people genuinely think asking a four-year old to choose a gender is ‘a good thing’ you really have to up your parody game. You can claim it is just an academic exercise but, seriously, young people are ineligible to vote for a whole stack of very good reasons; to suggest otherwise is irresponsible and idiotic.
Then, into this quagmire of competing fixations, obsessions and ideologies strides the one-man communist propaganda corps, James – Stalin - O’Brien, the Poundshop Pol Pot, the Chiswick Castro. This pompous jackanape has a national platform from which he puffs himself up and pontificates and he uses this platform to inject a form of poison into the body politic. In the aim of self-aggrandisement he sets himself up as an authority on all that he despises; which seems to be ordinary people with concerns for the way in which our society is ordered.
There seems little in the so-called progressive milieu to which he hasn’t signed up wholesale. Immigration is an inalienable good, aggressive minorities are fighting the good fight and anybody who disagrees with him is a worm to be stamped upon. He selects callers to either reinforce his points or to be set up for destruction via his well-rehearsed and almost entirely irrelevant counter points. “I can’t get work on building sites any more because Easter European workers will work for a level of pay I can’t pay my rent with” will inevitable be met with the contention “So, you’re a xenophobe?” and then be cut off without right to reply, unless he thinks he can humiliate the caller some more.
He so thoroughly believes his own smug superiority that even when he has been shown to be a showboating no-mark he refuses to back down. The other day I heard a perfectly reasonable caller to his LBC show trying to make a point; we’ll never know what the point was because O’Brien repeatedly interrupted him – verbally bullied him – to the point where all reason was lost. The exchange went something like...
Caller: I voted Ukip at the last elec...
O’B: So, you decided to back the Nazis?
Caller: No, it was about getting a Brexit that...
O’B: You hate immigrants, is that it?
Caller: No, of course I don’t hate immi...
O’B: You gave your vote to a racist party; that makes you a racist, doesn’t it?
Caller: I don’t know why you can’t understa...
O’B: When did you decide to get into bed with the Nazis and racists?
Caller: I wanted a say on who makes our rules.
O’B: You think we are ruled by filthy foreigners, is that it? You would prefer to vote with the fascists and racists and xenophobes, rather than let a single foreigner into the country?
Caller; You are just being ridiculous now.
O’B: Well it’s you who want the Nazis in power... [repeat ad nauseum]
O'Brien's show in a nutshell... so you don't have to listen.
Such dialectic, worthy of Socrates himself! O’Brien is a pompous, preening, overbearing useful idiot to the communist cause. A few years ago he adopted a slightly self-effacing demeanour and appeared almost willing to accept he was not always right, but he has become his own creation, a creature of bitterness and rancour... and tunnel vision. No wonder he didn’t last on Newsnight. No wonder he is reviled on both left and right. If his daughters grow up to become BNP sympathisers he will have only himself to blame.