Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Paul Mason - the "journalist" who actually thinks Corbyn can win the next election and that he can't lie to the British people!

Listening to clips of the former Newsnight Business Editor (!) and the former Channel 4 News Economics Editor (!!) on Radio 4 at the weekend, I found myself wondering - not for the first time - just who in hell gave him his job on Newsnight 15 years ago, and why. What prompted my renewed speculation was Mason's comment - apparently delivered without ironic intent - that “I think Jeremy Corbyn will win. Or let’s put it this way, he will be in a position to form a government."

This was followed by some utterly deranged guff about how Labour MPs’ increasingly desperate attempts to defenestrate Steptoe were the result of the “guardians of elite power inside the Labour Party” being terrified by Corbyn’s electability - i.e. it’s not that the dimwitted old berk couldn’t win a general election if the whole of the Tory Party were to disappear down a sinkhole tomorrow (possibly one created by some of Jeremy’s charming “friends” in the terror community); no - it’s these quivering Blairites' belief that Corbyn’s going to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom that’s making them sweat even more than usual as they lie by their Tuscan swimming pools this summer.

This, of course, demonstrates Mason’s unerring grasp of political reality. He was, after all, once a member of the Troskyist Workers Power group and a self-admitted “bit of a leftie activist”.  (Bit of? That’s like describing him as “a bit of a CAUC”.) Mason objected to George Osborne’s description of him as a “revolutionary Marxist”, explaining: “I am a radical social democrat who favours the creation of a peer-to-peer sector (co-ops, open source etc) alongside the market and the state, as part of a long transition to a post-capitalist economy.” Well, thanks for clearing that up
for us, comrade. But I’m a bit confused by what you said in an interview for The Independent last year: "I am quite happy to call myself a Marxist at the level of method, because historical materialism as a method is a great tool for understanding history.” I… erm… Oh, forget it!

The question that interests me is not so much how Mason managed to get a job at the BBC: in a left-leaning organisation employing around 20,000 staff, there are bound to be quite a few sad types who’ve found themselves unable to relinquish the juvenile political beliefs that made their pants stick out when they were fist-clenching, demo-attending, beer-swilling styoudents. No, what interests me is how he managed to get a job as the Business Editor of the main current affairs strand of the biggest broadcaster in Europe. (And in case there’s any confusion in anyone’s mind, an editor is senior to a correspondent, who is senior to a reporter - so we’re talking an actual journalistic Big Cheese here.) Presumably, it was something to do with his having been deputy editor of  Computer Weekly, and launching E-Business Review and being consulting editor for the launch of CW360.com during the heady days of the dotcom boom around the turn of the century, when just about anyone could talk their way into high-level jobs by spouting sheer gibberish about the groovy, scary digital maelstrom the world was plunging into: the people interviewing this sort of candidate - especially as they themselves hadn’t had much direct experience of this interweb thingy - tended to grab anyone who sounded like they even vaguely knew what the hell was going on.

(I remember this era well. Having weathered a blizzard of buzzwords and phrases while interviewing one candidate, I was finally reduced to utter exasperation: “I still have absolutely no idea what you do for a living. It’s 9.30 in the morning. You’ve sat down at your desk, sipped your coffee, switched on your computer and checked your emails. Now - what is it you actually do for the next nine hours?” Five minutes of gibberish later and I was still none the wiser.)

I can only assume that something similar happened when Mason was grilled by the three or four-members of the BBC board he presumably had to attend. After all, it’s unlikely they would have been convinced that his bizarrely anachronistic political beliefs - in particular his conviction that capitalism is dying (it really isn’t) and his enthusiasm for trade unions (no, honestly) - made him the best man to interpret events in Britain’s business sector. Believe it or not, even the lefties who have traditionally run Newsnight don’t actually go out of their way to make themselves look like clueless pillocks by, for instance, hiring CND enthusiasts as defence correspondents or Bible Christians as science editors (well, they didn’t back in 2001, at least). One can only assume that Mason chose not to reveal himself as a fully-fledged, card-carrying political and economic flat-earther at the time.

As for Channel 4 News appointing Mason as their economics editor - well, any current affairs programme which has elected to be fronted by Jon Snow since 1989 evidently already inhabits the sort of parallel universe in which someone like Paul Mason has something interesting to say about the country's economy.

I’m not sure Paul Mason can be called a journalist in any meaningful sense of the term. After all, he has expressed the opinion that Jeremy Corbyn is "incapable of lying to the British people”. Good God - the Labour leader even lied about there not being any spare seats on a Virgin train! I’ve met many real journalists in my time. Many of them have held opinions with which I strongly disagreed. One BBC news presenter had written a book about the Loch Ness monster, in whose existence he believed. One experienced foreign correspondent told me that Prince Charles was a philistine who was incapable of appreciating the architectural glory of the Television Centre “doughnut”. A senior news producer cackled loudly at the very idea that Saddam Hussein was developing an enormous  “supergun”. But I’ve never met one sufficiently deluded to believe Jeremy Corbyn was incapable of lying to the British people - or that this footling twerp has a chance of winning the next election. Not even the most left-wing member of the BBC's team of political correspondents would entertain such notions for a single moment. That’s just not how journalists' minds work.  

Paul Mason finally stands revealed for what he has always been: a far left political activist who - for some odd reason - has, in his time, been given senior editorial jobs by two of Britain's main news broadcasters. What were they thinking?


  1. The thing about left-wingers is that they are never blessed in the "good looks" department. Think Bessie Braddock, Michael Foot, Botney and on down. This "person of repellent aspect" would never be used as a model for Dorian Gray, for example.

    To illustrate the point further tune in to "Any Questions" to-night to capture the 1,000th appearance of the Great Flaccid Jelly Monster [no, not Batmanghelidj]: to celebrate, Dimbleby tragically, he has returned] will be conducting the programme stretched out on his belly in the classic kow-tow position apparently.

    1. The aim of all true socialists is to make us all equally unattractive, so no minger or gargoyle will feel disadvantaged. As for the Human Blancmange, it's either her or Emily Thornberry, and it's hard to decide which is worse. I think they should have that Richard Burgon on more often - he's a real looker and evidently possesses a razor-sharp brain. Or fun-loving party animal, Keith Vaz. Or Simon Danczuk. Or gorgeous Northern heart-throb Andy Burnham. Spoilt for choice, really.

  2. Replies
    1. Sensationally well, evidently! I suspect him of being a master of Jedi mind tricks - I expect the people who keep giving him jobs end up wondering why the hell they picked him.