Thursday 16 July 2020


Or four-part ramble.
1) We haven’t been contributing lately. Maybe we’re feeling irrelevant and redundant. I say ‘we’, but I should only speak for myself.  It’s just that Craig and I have a habit of speaking inclusively whenever we mention this blog. We say “we” as if the blog is a firm or something. A corporate entity. Well, it ain’t like that. Nevertheless, we usually agree, broadly, on most topics that come up here. However, Craig has his own reasons for his particular ‘interregnum’ and I have mine. 

Here’s what’s on my mind. I have to admit that I mainly follow the very same right-wing echo chambers that you (our readers) seem to  -  but everywhere you look you’ll find multiple references to the BBC’s innate leftwing bias, whether the author, whoever it happens to be, believes it’s conscious, unconscious, subliminal or plain supremacist. You’ve heard of white supremacy; well, left-wing supremacy is with us now. In terms of supremacy and self-righteousness, left-wing (woke) supremacy is a much bigger phenomenon than the ever-diminishing white variety, if you like.

It’s as if everyone outside the lefty bubble has abandoned the idea of reforming the BBC and now it’s just ‘defund’.  Starve it to death, close it all down and let it sink or swim/stand on its own two feet. 
As far as I’m concerned, the jury’s out. I know the BBC biased. I’ve been writing about it for decades. But I’ve got a long memory, and vestiges of the BBC’s legendary once-upon-a-time irreplaceability linger on.

2) Despite feeling more comfortable among ‘ideological’ friends, I’m interested in (and sympathetic to) the middle ground, and also curious about the opposition. I’m an open-minded sort of a guy. Not actually guy; my personal pronouns are ‘she and her’ since it’s now a requirement to say.


3) It seems like only the other day (alright, since Covid-19 everything seems like only the other day) that I was emailing Craig to speculate on how Kathy Gyngell and the staunchly Conservative TCW crowd now regard Melanie Phillips? If you remember, for a short while they published her articles and treated her like one of their own. 

Now that she’s broken with the “economy first” party line, à la Peter Hitchens who has no time for wimps (like me) who capitulate in the face of scaremongering regulations like mandatory face-coverings, which he calls  ‘muzzles’.  Melanie has taken the predominantly left-wing (compliant) stance on Lockdown, and I wondered (in my email) if or when they will cast her out.  It seems that polarisation on Covid-19 is as rigid as it is on everything else. (Accen-tuate the positive elim-inate the negative “No room for mister in between.”)

On that theme, Melanie Phillips has published an unusual piece in The Times, 
The right has turned on me for daring to disagree. Some who call themselves libertarian are just as intolerant as the leftwingers I rejected years ago.

I wondered if the above mentioned TCW/Lockdown-related issue is what sparked that off. It’s an interesting piece, considering that it's coming from the person who has been continually marginalised and dismissed as “Mad Mel’, probably for her articulate and razor-sharp defence of Israel. Going against the grain with equal fearlessness and eloquence was her trademark and rubbing people up the wrong way on Question Time etc., but these days she’s frequently invited to appear on various platforms including the MSM - I saw her on Sky earlier today, reviewing the papers, for example. I just wonder whether it’s Melanie or the MSM who’s doing the compromising.  Or softening their stance. Or moving in an ever-closer direction.

There is but one particular issue within this extremely relatable piece where she and I disagree. It’s her “Tommy Robinson” paragraph, which I reproduce here for the information of non-subscribers to The Times:
“Then there was my opposition to Tommy Robinson, the anti-Islam campaigner who was jailed after repeatedly flouting the rules limiting what can be said in public about an ongoing criminal trial. As a result of his behaviour, a trial of men accused of belonging to a Pakistani-heritage grooming gang might have collapsed. Yet American conservatives claimed the British government was determined to get him killed in prison because he was speaking out against Islamic community outrages. I tried to enlighten them about the rules on contempt of court in England. They refused to listen and said I was an accomplice of Islamisation.”

I think I might have said this before, but I feel her dismissal of “Tommeh” is fundamentally due to lack of empathy with (or familiarity with) the ‘white working class”. A form of snobbishness, I fear.  I feel that her justification for taking this attitude is flimsy, (but being married to a prominent lawyer might have a lot to do with it) because, as one (lone) commenter (and one lone btl responder) have said:
“I think TR's defence was that he was reading out information about the case/defendants that was already in the public domain, including available on the BBC. I.e. he argued that if he was in contempt of court, so was the BBC, but since the government/police went after him and not the BBC, this revealed the political motivation behind his arrest. He also noted that if it was his mere presence outside the court that was objectionable (despite his being employed as a journalist for the Rebel News), it is odd that no one seems to worry about the presence of journalists talking about him outside court when he is on trial.

As for the concern about his safety in prison, that is hardly spurious, given (1) the level of radicalization in the prison population, (2) the government's inability/failure to prevent the entirely predictable attacks against him by Islamists when he was in prison in the past, and (3) the way he undermined the legitimacy of the government, the police, and the mainstream media by exposing their failures to act and report on the 'grooming gang' issue.
"Re TR    Well said.  I agree with you.   I have been observing the reactions of politicians and the police towards different protest groups and the biased and unjust way in which the establishment, including the MSM,  has treated TR from the outset, and it gives great cause for concern.    MP needs to do a little more research on TR and not let her fears blur her intellect.   I am sure that she, too, will find the treatment of TR troubling, being the honest broker that she is.

Apart from that specific issue, which I didn’t intend to dwell on, I agree with almost everything else in her article, and oddly, (I think) so do nearly all the commenters, many of whom begin by saying they don’t normally agree with her, BUT…

With all of us - I include myself in this - there’s a certain amount of cherry-picking going on. Sometimes selectivity is necessary to illustrate a point, but when it becomes a substitute for objectivity, it’s counterproductive.   

I know I’m in the blogger-unfriendly habit of posting convoluted pieces that are difficult to respond to because they’re so fragmented - some say rambling - but that’s an occupational hazard when you’re trying to meet the twin obligations of topicality (you haven’t much time to let your thoughts consolidate before the subject becomes obsolete) while aiming for the brevity, lucidity and general readability that blogs need, designed, as they are, to suit those of us with shortish attention spans; and Twitter addicts.


4) Here’s the next fragment. It’s separate from but strongly related to the above, so I’m diving straight in. I might number these segments. If so, this will be number 4.

If you read the Spectator you’ll have spotted two closely related pieces. They both came under “Most popular”, which is nice. I took a screenshot before it was updated.

This is Ms Weiss’s letter of resignation - to the New York Times where she had been a columnist for some years. It is a somewhat excoriating summary of the left-wing polarisation that has taken hold almost everywhere in the woke Western world. Interestingly, many people have noted that the NYT is currently under the leadership of Mark Thompson. Say no more.

The other piece, by Douglas Murray, is connected to the above,  What is the point of the New York Times? and I’ve picked out a sentence that I think I could have written myself. In fact, I think I did write it several years ago, about the Beeb.
"Some time ago I became aware that I no longer trusted it even on issues that I didn’t know about. Because on every issue I did know about, I discovered that the paper was spreading untruths and lies.

(The third piece in my screenshot is by Stephen Daisley who wonders if the BBC will become a victim of its own bias.) Many commenters wonder why it took him so long to wonder this.)

The Times gives us another Bari Weiss related piece. The writer, Joanna Williams, has also made a comparison with the BBC.
“It’s not just in America. The BBC’s head of standards has warned staff of the dangers of becoming addicted to “toxic” Twitter. David Jordan’s concern is that a desire for programme snippets to “go viral” overrides impartiality and accuracy. When BBC output includes soundbites berating white women for being “Karens”, it is hard not to conclude that a Reithian commitment to public service broadcasting has been lost to an in-joke shared among politically aligned friends. Likewise, smug contestants on Radio 4 panel shows poke fun at the supposed ignorance of Brexit voters to gain affirmation from the Twitterati.
The pursuit of validation on Twitter is like walking a tightrope while drunk. Mis-speak, utter the wrong view, and you will be hounded until you repent. Weiss explains: “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,” before detailing the litany of harassment she faced.
This has created a culture of conformity where people self-censor then enthusiastically police others for fear of being called out themselves. Sadly, this is not confined to the media. Try being, as I was, a Brexit supporter in academia. Or an artist critical of Black Lives Matter. Or an author who thinks that a person with a uterus is a woman. Or a teacher who doesn’t think all children need unconscious bias training.”

I hope this fragmented post will prompt you to follow up the articles I’ve cited if you haven’t already done so, and here’s a bonus one for luck. 

Unlike Bari Weiss, I haven’t learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again”  and that’s one reason why I’m wondering if this blog is the best outlet for moi and my politically homeless, rambling observations. (Rhetorical question)

Messiaen. Quartet for the End of Time -  and appropriately discordant.

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