Saturday, 17 January 2015

I’m sure the voters of South Thanet will enjoy being patronised by a posh left-winger like Al Murray

You’ll all have read about Chiswickite comedian Al Murray’s intention to stand – in the guise of his enormously popular character, the Pub Landlord – against the UKIP leader at the general election. One presumes his intention is to convince South Thanet voters not to vote for Nigel Farage on the grounds that his views and opinions are as hilariously clichéd, as grounded in the unenlightened past, and as zenophobic as those expressed on stage by the Pub Landlord: essentially, Murray wants to make Farage look ridiculous.

There are a number of problems with this approach, the first being that every attempt to make Farage look stupid, dangerous or dishonest either by painting him as a dangerous racist extremist – a sort of slightly more human version of Nick Griffin -  or by suggesting that the pint-and-a-fag, man-of–the-people act coming from a private school-educated ex-City dealer is sheer hypocrisy have only made Farage and his party more popular with disaffected voters.

As for stupidity, the Labour Party is being led by a bizarre wally so bereft of street cred he can’t even eat a bacon sandwich convincingly. As for being dangerous, both the main parties have connived to allow the wholesale immigration of Muslims, many of whom seem to loathe this country and quite a few of whom seem determined to kill us. As for hypocrisy – where to start? Nick Clegg’s promise on student fees? Ed Milliband stabbing his brother in the back? Cameron’s “cast-iron” pledge to hold an EU referendum during this parliament? As for having a privileged background – well, at least Farage didn’t go to Eton, and, as for his City background, at least he had proper job out there in the real world for decades before taking a pay-cut to go into politics, and, when he did so, joined a tiny, unfashionable, dishevelled joke of a party in order to propagate passionately-held views rather than to bag a seat at top table to which he felt automatically entitled by dint of education and parentage.

Presumably Al Murray will be trying to make Farage look like some sort of music hall character. How’s that going to work, exactly? Farage already is a sort of musical hall character – it’s one of the reasons voters take to him: he’s a card, and  the English tend to be rather fond of cards. And drawing attention to the fact that many of Farage’s pronouncements echo the sort of visceral, distinctly un-PC patriotism that is the whole basis of Murray’s Pub Landlord act – well, the very reason voters have flocked to UKIP is because they share that same instinctive partiality for their own country, its people, its history and its traditions, and who consequently feel it’s the job of immigrants to fit in or fuck off and wait in line for their turn, and who don’t see why foreigners should decide which laws they have to obey, who they have to ne nice to, and which undesirables they can and can’t kick out of their own bloody country. Cheek! Does Murray imagine he’ll put people off voting for a politician who – unlike rival party leaders – doesn’t give the impression he’s recently landed from another planet, and who evidently understands, respects and (almost as important) actually likes them.

But, then, Murray is a prominent member of the left-liberal, Oxbridge-educated, metropiltan politico-media elite which so many English voters have grown to resent and despise since Labour returned to power in 1997. Given that many South Thanet voters – in particular those who belong to the working and lower-middle classes – will have had enough of wealthy, self-regarding, morally preening, bien pensant, Guardianista liberal fascists treating them as if they were knuckle-dragging, hate-filled, unenlightened troglodytes, I can imagine how they’ll react to yet another of the fuckers helicoptering in to lecture them on the error of their ways. I’m sure many of them will be fans of the Pub Landlord – as I am – but part of our appreciation of the character rests on the fact that we feel some sympathy with many of the unacceptable things he says, and we rather miss people like him: our laughter is largely affectionate. I suspect much of Farage’s support rests on a similar sense of welcoming back a type we’ve rather missed, who, in addition, says things we rather agree with but might feel nervous about voicing in polite society.

Of course, Murray himself despises those of us who aren't entirely opposed to the Pub Landlord's attitudes: “He [The Pub Landlord] can be incredibly hare-brained and you still have people saying ‘Yeah, I like what you’re saying there mate,” says Murray. “I get flak for it and people saying ‘Aren’t you worried some people don’t understand it’s a turn?’ No! I’m laughing at these people! In their face!”

Well, that's nice to know. Perhaps - like many successful upmarket left-wing entertainers - Murray imagines that the success of BBC left-wing "comedy" programmes such as Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week, The Now Show and The News Quiz indicates that the vast majority of people share the same sneering, left-liberal contempt for Middle England in particular and working and lower-middle class conservative Britons in general invariably exhibited by, for instance, Marcus Brigstocke, Sandi Toksvig and Stephen Fry. But not everyone who watches or listens to these programmes is a true believer, and even if you lump their audiences together, they still represent a small minority of the population. There are an awful lot of people out there as yet uninfected by urban liberal values, and they're getting mighty tired of being hectored in a morally superior manner by their supposed betters: they tend to be the sort flocking to UKIP.

Speaking of "betters", here’s an extract from Al Murray’s Wikipedia entry:
Murray was born at Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, only son of Lieutenant Colonel Ingram Bernard Hay Murray (a great-great-great-great-grandson of John, 3rd Duke of Atholl, who married Charlotte, Baroness Strange), by his wife Juliet Anne Thackeray, née Ritchie (a great-great-granddaughter of the celebrated novelist William Makepeace Thackeray). His grandfather, the former British ambassador Sir Ralph Murray, was of Scottish aristocracy and married into the von Kuenburg family, nobility of the Holy Roman Empire. His third cousin is Sir Edward Leigh MP and his patrilineal great-great-grandfather, Dr George Murray, was Bishop of Rochester. Al Murray is in remainder both to English and Scottish peerage titles, including the barony of Strange and the dukedom of Atholl… Murray was educated at Bedford School and St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he read Modern History. 
Certainly makes Nigel Farage (who also attended a fee-paying school but skipped university and doesn’t appear to have any aristocratic antecedents) look like a bit of an oik. Still, I’m sure that he and the voters of South Thanet won’t mind a rich posh boy like Al Murray laughing in their stupid faces.


  1. Obviously the Murrays are a family in decline as we may observe by comparing Al with his kinsman "wee Iain" (erstwhile Duke of Atholl), former Tory peer and member of the anti - immigration Monday Club :,_10th_Duke_of_Atholl

    Leftists usually have two motivations , viz., envy or guilt, so I suppose the latter would fit the bill for Al Murray.

  2. The Johnny Speight gambit, as we might call it, was always a risky one. For all that Speight was satirising the views of English working class Tories with his Alf Garnett, the joke was really on him. Lefty audiences may have nodded smugly, but hoi polloi regraded Alf as a prophet.

    The same is true of Murray. I have had the misfortune of sitting in an audience guffawing at Murray's act. I'm sure he went home (his pockets stuffed with cash) convinced that he had spread the good word, but I happen to know that a fair proportion of that audience (it was a private do) held views which made the Pub Landlord sound like a bit of a wishy-washy liberal.

    Living in his privileged meejah goldfish bowl, I'm sure Murray thinks he will upset Farage's campaign but I suspect he is in for a bit of a surprise when he comes up against that very proletariat he believes he champions.

  3. Smug, sneering, superior and left wing, the essential qualities for any "comedian" wishing to appear on the BBC. A couple of months ago, stuck in traffic, I listened to half an hour of the dreadfully unfunny Marcus Brigstocke. The audience (they can't all be family members, surely?) whooped in delight as this self regarding, pompous ass lectured us on the evils of UKIP, how immigration had benefitted Britain and anyone who disagreed was a revolting, racist ignoramus. It slowly dawned on me that I was paying this talentless turd to insult me!

    When it comes to mass immigration I will always listen to the old lady who lives in a bedsit in Brixton and the elderly chap who resides in a tower block in Tower Hamlets.
    As for Marcus and his privileged ilk he (and they) can go and fxxx themselves.
    Second thoughts, he might enjoy that...