Saturday, 15 August 2015

Why the BBC keeps booking the same dreary old female lefties

This week, Germaine Greer was on Radio 4’s Any Questions panel. Last week it was Bonnie Greer (presumably no relation). Next week, it’ll be Polly Greer - no, sorry, I mean Polly Toynbee. I realise that to a lot of young left-wing current affairs producers of the female persuasion – and to many of their male colleagues – Germaine Greer must seem a wise, funny, erudite, courageous feminist icon who invariably expresses “interesting” opinions (i.e. the kind of tedious, unmitigated, cultural Marxist bollocks that seemed daringly contemporary when Oz and IT were a thing) in a “forthright” (i.e. rude, hectoring, smug, sneering, self-regarding) fashion.

Bonnie Greer is, of course, black and left-wing and formerly foreign, so she has the right to lecture Britons on any subject that takes her fancy, i.e. white racism, white racism and…oh yes – white racism.

Polly Toynbee, who rails against privilege (having got into Oxford despite only having one A-level, because she is, after all, a Toynbee, and therefore doesn't need paltry qualifications), and who hasn’t expressed an original opinion since the launch of the Sinclair C5 (or, more likely, since the trial run of Stephenson’s Rocket), and who loathes the rich so passionately that she own an agreeable Tuscan retreat where she can regularly escape from them – well, as our most eminent exponent of malign compassion, she’s a sort of semi-mythical demi-goddess to young lefty media types.

The only slight problem with this trio of commentators – and one that the BBC seems somehow not to have noticed – is that, despite the fact that their poignantly outmoded and eccentric world-view is shared by a dwindlingly small minority of the British people (mainly Guardian readers, BBC News employees, students and academics – about 15% of the population, tops), they seem to be on our radio and television screens practically 24 hours a bleeding day.

As a considerable majority of license-payers don’t share the Weird Sisters’ vision of society, why are they always on? It’s partly because their lazy, masturbatory, fantasy-based Islingtonian brand of politics is shared by most media folk. Another reason for their ubiquity is that the Left hasn’t “thrown up” (an apposite term in this context) a convincing media performer in years. Let’s face it, if the best your side can come up with are Russell Brand, Owen Jones and Laurie Penny, you are well and truly screwed – none of that lot have ever had an original thought, let alone voiced one in public. How pathetically bereft of ideas do you have to be if you’re reduced to citing Clem Attlee's government or the crappy, dysfunctional, disintegrating NHS as proof that socialism works? Or, as Germaine Greer claimed this week, that proper socialism has never been tried (tell that to the untold millions who have suffered under socialist governments)? It’s utterly pitiful.

But I suspect the main reason these bores are always on is that they always have been on, which makes them a safe bet: producers know exactly how they’re going to perform. (I’m reminded of a friend of mine who went for an interview for a job with The World at One in the mid-‘80s. He arrived in time to witness the recording of an interview with the spluttering Labour politician, Roy Hattersely. As the interview ended, the producer clicked his stop-watch - we all had them back in those analogue days - and, presumably because Fattersley had filled his allotted time to the second, turned to the gallery and, smirking, said “What a pro!” To which my friend – had he not been seeking employment – would have responded, “What a c*nt!”)

Like their media cheerleaders, the quartet of current Labour leadership contenders do seem remarkably bereft of fresh ideas. That would be fine if their old ideas were any good - but they aren't: they suck. If Andy “Mascara” Burnham genuinely believes – as he keep telling us – that voters are rejecting traditional politics, why does his main pitch revolve around how passionate he is about the Labour Party? Isn’t that precisely the sort of attitude that’s turning voters off? I’m not aware that Yvette Cooper has voiced a single policy idea during this contest. Liz Kendall sounds like a Blair-era Spad (and not a particularly bright one). While Jeremy Corbyn – bless the silly old terrorist-loving sausage – gives off the acrid stench of unburied bodies and piles of uncollected rubbish, the fetid smell of British Leyland workers' armpits as they raise their hands to reject yet another lavish, unaffordable pay offer, and the choking smoke from those braziers which bone-idle anti-workers used to huddle around as they very nearly succeeded in destroying this country in the late 1970s.

A recent poll undertaken by Labour’s Jon Cruddas into why voters so resoundingly rejected his party in May revealed that we didn’t trust them with the economy, rather liked the idea of “austerity”, and thought they'd make it too easy for scroungers to live off benefits (three in a bed - “one hundred and eighty!”). And yet the BBC imagines that license-payers who just smeared the Labour Party off the soles of their shoes actually want to hear the same old mob of ghastly left-wing harridans screeching about how cruel and unfair and unjust and racist the Tories are. Obviously, dissenting voices have to be heard – but are there really no Labour supporters out there with anything remotely new to offer?

Maybe not – maybe the game really is up for Labour (as it undoubtedly will be if Corbyn becomes leader – I can’t believe I’m writing that without satirical intention). But a functioning parliamentary democracy really does require a credible opposition in order to stop the government of the day falling asleep at the wheel or suffering the sort of disastrous attack of hubris that led Margaret Thatcher to introduce the poll tax. Normally, in these circumstances, the BBC steps into the gap left by a weakened and bewildered opposition by taking on the role itself: but that represents a grotesque breach of the terms of the BBC Charter and a criminal misuse of the licence fee.

Perhaps, this time, BBC producers should do us all a favour by ditching their well-thumbed contact books and trying to figure out where a credible democratic opposition might arise. Even if they discover that the most effective opposition to our current soppingly-wet Conservative government is to be found on the Right (as I suspect it would be, because only the Right is coming up with interesting ideas - or any ideas at all, for that matter), programme producers should hold their little socialist noses and start inviting the Right's most articulate representatives onto their programmes with far greater regularity and in far greater numbers than they have in the past (and, yes, that's setting the bar pretty low). Of course, that might result in a certain degree of political imbalance on BBC programmes - but, as that's what we've experienced for the last 50 years, I think we'd be able to handle it.

Obviously this would mean that Bonnie and Germaine and Polly and their ilk would have a lot more time on their hands, but maybe they could get out a bit more and actually talk to some of those strange people who voted Tory at the last election - an awful lot did, so they shouldn't be too hard to track down. You never know - the Weird Sisters might actually learn something, which might even result in them having something new to say (but don't hold your breath).


  1. Two observations on another excellent post.

    The first is, what has Bonnie Greer actually done to earn this living icon status she seems to have been afforded by the BBC?

    Being black, female and overfond of your own voice seems a common enough set of qualifications and though the BBC tries to pass her off as a 'playwright' I am unaware of the string of West End hits which would normally be justify such a tsunami of exposure.

    Of course, it's hard not to think that Ali G might have known the secret of her success.

    My second observation is a concern - that for all the chortling at the Telegraph as Conservatives pay their three quids to help Corbyn slip his feet into Ed's sweaty plimsoles, I worry that the bugger could actually get himself elected one day.

    People are really unhappy out there in England (that country which Islingtonians only write about). It's not hard to imagine the economy taking a tumble and that anger boiling over. The theory that Labour lost the last election because people thought Ed was too far to the Left is only a theory. They might actually have shunned him because he is obviously such a vapid berk.

    In my nightmares I can imagine Corbyn actually winning a general election. And the depredations of the Blair junta would become a light-hearted memory were that horror ever to come to pass.

    1. Relax, GCooper - it really will never happen (i.e. Corbyn as PM). One way to ensure that the public (as opposed to the small minority of looney leftists in the country) won't vote for you is to welcome more immigrants, act disrespectfully towards the monarchy, promise unlimited welfare benefits, plan to leave the country undefended, and to suck up to Islamic terrorists. Yes, those rules didn't apply to Tony Blair, but he was clever and sneaky about it - two adjectives one could never apply to the old bearded fellow now seeking to become Labour leader. There's also the question of how many Labour MPs would actually support Corbyn were he to become leader. Pushing Labour further to the left seems quite a sensible policy - as long as the boundary changes are rammed through.

  2. I always thought the high point of Germaine's many contributions to the nation's cultural enlightenment was in the 70s, when she chose to display her genitalia in 'Suck' magazine as a gesture against the defeminising nature of pornography, which struck some of us at the time as about as logical as whipping out the old todger as a protest against indecent exposure..

    1. Oh God - did you really have to mention Germaine Greer's genitals? That's put me right off my lunch. Still, at least you didn't make any reference to Riley's todger...

  3. Actually, in a determined attempt to balance the public feminisation of bra-burning in the good old days I was often seen to 'whip out the old todger' and slap it on the table. Sadly, I now have no photographic evidence but there are still witnesses, now, having received therapy, recovered from the spectacle, who will testify.

    1. Oh Lord, that's dinner off the menu as well. Thanks, Riley.

      Still, it'll help with the diet, I suppose.

  4. Not forgetting Yasmin Ali Brown for a complete house.

    1. I hadn't forgotten the ghastly harridan, Luke C - it's hard to forgot someone who remarked of white men: “I don’t like them. I want them to be a lost species in a hundred years." - it's just that even typing her name makes me angry.