Saturday 1 November 2014

Look back, look forward, look left

Voices from the Left were rather prominent on last week's Start the Week, and will be on next week's edition too.

You'll probably already know that Russell Brand was on last Monday's programme. Russ was talking revolution - the theme of that edition of the show. 

He didn't go down too well with many Feedback listeners, by the sounds of it. Even the Twitter reaction that I saw didn't seem very keen. Some of his other guests, and presenter Tom Sutcliffe, didn't seem to get on with him either. Scraps abounded. 

Still, all the loyal Russophiles out there seemed pleased enough at his performance - which was nothing if not very Russell Brand (except for forgetting to mention his 'ballbags').

Besides wannabe left-wing hero Russ and the programme's bien pensant Guardian-writing presenter Tom Sutcliffe, we also had a left-wing campaigner  David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, which campaigns against Israel (among other things), and a U.S. Democrat-supporting/U.S. Republican-bashing philosopher, Susan Neiman (who bashed U.S. foreign policy from the Left). The final guest, who didn't venture a strong opinion on modern matters, was historian Juliet Barker. She wants the Peasants' Revolt re-classed as the Great Revolt, and presented it - in Ed Miliband-like language - as being all about "the squeezed middle".

Now, I enjoyed Juliet Barker's revisionist take on the Peasants' Revolt, though I didn't get Susan Neiman's rather nebulous point, and didn't buy her premise either - that the age between 16 and 25 is the worst time of peoples' lives. Russ moaned about being misrepresented by critics and then proceeded to misrepresent his fellow guests. (Oh Russ!). And David Babbs was suitably left-wing. 

The programme really could have done with a right-winger. I'm not quite sure why no one on the production team at Start the Week thought it worthwhile asking one, but (for whatever reason) they didn't.

Capitalism got quite a bashing there, understandably.

Next week's edition will doubtless also focus on capitalism, as the topic up for discussion is going to be The Language of Money

Looking at the guest list, we've got ex-New Statesman editor and well-known 'to-the-left-of-New Labour' figure John Kampfner, Keynesian FT columnist Martin Wolf, left-leaning novelist and London Review of Books regular John Lanchester and writer and self-declared socialist Naomi Alderman. 

I think we can guess where that's going. Time for all of us top-hatted fans of capitalism to make for the exit doors it seems.


  1. Andrew Neil! Andrew Neil! Nick Robinson was a Young Conservative! Andrew Neil! Andrew Neil!

    Or words to that effect. They really don't care any more. Just look at Newsnight the silliness on Today and the usual moralizing shows.

  2. Russell Brand is the ultimate symbol of what we end up with when God, purpose, point and principles are removed from society,
    A symbol and a symptom-but not the cause.
    His affectations and career trajectory are entirely on a par with those that somebody might get if he was value-free, content-lite and an autoerotic Joey Barton without the balls, Owen Jones without the Oxbridge Thesaurus and Laurie Penny with body odour and a victim complex.
    That Bwand gets put before us as an idiot savant by the BBC only shows that the whole political class and academe have given up, and are awaiting the knock at the porthole from Islam.
    That said, he namedrops Solzhenitsyn in his recent booky wooky-and proudly boasts of never having read him.
    So a privileged airhead who is the very face of 21st Century media whoredom and unfunny uselessness...note that this Tribunites book is "copyright control".
    Go Russell-let`s get him on Bransons next wokkit to the moony-wooney eh?
    Hope Yewtree has got long roots...that`s one tree that may well hang his like once he`s a Panto stock joke in a few years time.
    Nah-don`t care for the chap too much myself!

  3. An extreme example of left-wing bias was Sunday's "World this Week-end". Nearly half was a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of Ed Silliband and the Labour Party.

    I roughly timed it at 12 minutes (of a 30 minute programme). Camoran's name was not mentioned and Farage only once (if I remember correctly).

  4. I was amazed at the bias shown in the discussion with Robert Peston about the report on the effects of immigration from UCL.

    Firstly although the report shows that mass immigration from outside the EU has cost us £120billion since the mid 90s (!!) that was completely ignored in the discussion! The focus instead was all on the benefits - alleged - of EU

    There was no critical discussion of the methodology. To what extent for instance does the report factor in the exceptional infrastructure costs necessitated in London and the South East resulting from such immigration.

    The report which I've just has a quick look at is pretty impenetrable but it appears to assume a zero marginal cost in terms of public goods provided for immigrants - but that seems incredible given how many immigrants are in low paid jobs.

    Also no one seems to be asking who are "The Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration". Where does their funding come from? Who makes up its staff ? The spokesperson for the report had a comically extreme German accent. One might ask how many EU Migrants in this country if asked to study the value of their presence would conclude it was negative.

  5. Further to my previous post I have tracked down the EU's long hand in the report:

    This so called “University of College London” report on immigration (the one that found EU migration benefits us) is actually from something called the Centre for Research and Analysis on Migration based at UCL. It receives funding from NORFACE.

    Who are NORFACE? A coalition of 15 national social science (not economic) research councils.

    And where does NORFACE get its funding from. Well – whaddya know? –

    “NORFACE receives core funding from the European Commission’s 6th-7th Framework Programme, under ERA-NET scheme. ”

    They like to cover their tracks as much as possible.

    Dan Read


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