Tag Archives: Atlas Shrugged

Britain’s press and the race to the bottom

The King Rat of sewer journalism

Last Thursday, the starting gun was fired in the British press’s race to the bottom. Just when you thought Britain’s media couldn’t sink any lower, up pops the BBC’s Ben Brown with possibly the worst interview ever conducted on television this year.

This descent into the gutter has been in progress now since the BBC opted to run a 24 hour rolling news channel that it likes to tell us is “award winning”.   On BBC Breakfast, the following day, the snide Bill Turnbull and his on-screen ‘spouse’, the simpering and gushing Sian Williams, repeated the same line of questioning. Turnbull and Williams, it should be remembered, infamously allowed Stephen Pollard to talk over Ken Loach in the day before the Iraq invasion took place in 2002.  The BBC wanted to compete on near-equal terms with Murdoch’s Sky and its US counterpart, Fox News, which offers nothing that can be described as ‘real news’.

Brown’s insensitivity was defended by Toby Young, who says in his Telegraph blog,

Watching the above clip, I don’t think Brown did anything wrong. He may look a bit callous for not making allowances for the fact that McIntyre suffers from Cerebral Palsy and just treating him as he would any other interviewee, but that’s exactly how the interview should have been conducted. For Brown not to hold McIntyre to the same standard as he would any other person on the programme because he’s disabled would be deeply patronising. After all, there’s nothing wrong with McIntyre’s brain.

But that isn’t the point, Tobes, it’s the fact that Brown insinuated that McIntrye could use his wheelchair as a “weapon”. McIntyre’s cerebral palsy is not the issue. Young offers a wee concession at the end of his blog but this is quickly followed by a boot in the face.

I’m horrified by the way in which McIntyre was treated – this really does seem like an open and shut case against the police officer concerned. But if only he had understood the policy properly – realised that it would actually make higher education more accessible to children from socially deprived backgrounds, not less – he wouldn’t have been on the street in the first place.

Young, like so many other soi-disant journalists makes the usual point of missing what the protests are all about. He, like the others, continues to labour under the misguided assumption that the demos are about tuition fees alone. Wrong. They’re about the cuts that his beloved government are about to make on public services.

The Telegraph’s John McTernan tries to make amends by saying,

My esteemed colleague Toby Young makes a brave attempt to stand up for Ben Brown’s interview of Jody McIntyre on BBC News 24. He really needn’t have bothered. The clip speaks for itself. To be honest, Brown looked like a police stooge when he repeated their claim that prior to the clip on YouTube McIntyre was rolling his wheelchair towards them. “Aw, diddums, did the man with with Cerebral Palsy scare you, and you in your riot gear and all” would have been the right response to whichever Metropolitan Police flak had the chutzpah to offer up that nonsense

But McTernan soon reveals his true colours towards the end of the blog,

While Frank Field was asked to “think the unthinkable”, today Iain Duncan Smith is going one better – he is “doing the unthinkable”. I look forward to many more blogs from Toby Young explaining precisely why the protesting public have got the wrong end of the stick about a change to the system which is really in their own best interests.

By far the worst offender in this race to the sewer, is the Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn. To tell the truth, Littlejohn is a long-term resident of the sewer (having moved there from the gutter years ago). He’s merely there to welcome the others to his world of turds, spent condoms, used baby wipes and discarded tampons. What’s worse is that he’s commissioned the Mail’s resident cartoonist to create a sort of Little Britain-inspired image. The suggestion here is that Jody McIntyre is ‘faking it’ because he isn’t four square behind the government’s misguided plans for higher education

The text that accompanies the cartoon isn’t any better – as one would expect.

I want to go to the demo…

Wheelchair-bound Jody Mcintyre has complained that he was beaten and manhandled by police during last week’s student fees protests.

But if he’s looking for sympathy, he’s come to the wrong place.

A man in a wheelchair is as entitled to demonstrate as anyone else. But he should have kept a safe distance.

Mcintyre put himself on offer and his brother pushed him into the front line. It’s not as if he didn’t know there was going to be trouble.

He was also at the last student demo in London and persuaded friends to hoist him on to the roof of the Millbank Tower. If his brakes had failed and he’d gone over the edge, who would he have blamed then?

Jody Mcintyre is like Andy from Little Britain.

‘Where do you want to go today, Jody?’

‘Riot.’

‘Are you sure? Wouldn’t you rather go to hear Bob Crow speak at the Methodist Central Hall. You like Bob Crow.’

‘Yeah, I know.’

‘So, we’ll go there, eh?’

‘Riot!’

‘Ken Livingstone will be there, too. He’s your favourite.’

‘Riot!’

‘All right, then.’

Five minutes later at the riot . . .

‘Don’t like it.’

I wonder how long it took Littlecock to dream up the idea that Jody was really Andy in diguise? Not long, I should think. Littlejohn lives in a world where he imagines himself to be under siege from the ‘polticially correct-gone-mad’, liberal do-gooders, lefties, feminists, gays, blacks, Muslims, lesbians…in fact anyone who doesn’t support Littlehjohn’s distorted version of reality is an ‘enemy within’. 9 years ago, Littlejohn had his first novel published. Titled To Hell in a Handcart, the book was roundly condemned by critics as well as those who understand real literature. The Guardian’s Stephen Moss had this to say,

To Hell In A Handcart is racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic trash. Now, Richard Littlejohn should be satisfied. He said recently that if the Guardian dismissed it in those terms, he would put it on the cover as a recommendation. Littlejohn, you see, hates the Guardian.

Christ, that sounds worse than Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

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The Conservative Party Manifesto and the Ayn Rand connection

According to my dear friend, Dan, he and his buddy, Doug, have had an influence on the last Conservative Party Manifesto. The manifesto, published in hardback, was a break with the more traditional way of publishing manifestos which often appear in paperback or pamphlet form. Hardback books cost considerably more than paperbacks and thus remain outside the reach of  readers with shallow pockets.  But a hardback manifesto? That was some kind of statement, it said “We can afford it. We have the money. So f*ck you!”. Yeah, you had Ashcroft’s money and some from that Goldsmith fella…which reminds me, he’s a bit quiet these days…

Hannan and Douglas Carswell, the MP for Clacton, co-authored a book titled The Plan: Twelve Months To Renew Britain. The book, according to the pair, is influenced by the work of Ayn Rand, the Russian-American emigré, free-market radical and libertarian ‘philosopher’. Rand called her ‘philosophy’, “Objectivism”, which is a peculiarly right-wing strain of libertarianism.  Adherents to the Objectivist creed proclaim her idea of ‘rational self interest’ the natural state for humankind. Rational self interest = me first. No prizes for guessing why Dan the Man is a fan.

As an Ayn Rand fan, I was touched to see this tasteful piece of merchandise, brought to you by that master blogger Tory Bear.

He’s referring here to a tee-shirt printed with the question “Who is Dan Han?” Subtle, clever and witty as I’m sure you will all agree.  But for those of you who aren’t familiar with the question’s source, it is a reference to the oft-repeated line, “Who is John Galt”? in Rand’s turgid tome, Atlas Shrugged. Who is John Galt indeed. But this is a question that means something only to those who have been touched by the spectral hand of Rand, to the rest of us – including those of us who were forced to read the dire Atlas Shrugged at school – it either means absolutely nothing or it is something to mercilessly ridicule.

In short, John Galt is a sort of cipher; a metaphor for unbridled individualism,  it is the sort of individualism that rightwing libertarians like Hannan and Carswell have wet dreams about. Galt is the symbolic embodiment of what Rand referred to as “the Noble Soul”;  a purely selfish being, free from any ‘taint’ of altruism and a servant to no one (not everyone has this luxury, by the way). There it is in a nutshell, now you don’t have to read the book; I’ve saved you from a fate worse than boredom. However Rand is no Camus, her characters are wooden and her attitude to women is often strangely misogynistic. The dullness of her prose style is surpassed only by the genius of utility that is the telephone book. I prefer the telephone book – any telephone book!

Ayn Rand was a cult-leader who was  pathologically self-obsessed; she was also a heavy smoker and had a fondness for dextroamphetamine (which probably goes some way to explaining the rationale behind her ‘philosophy’). Rand insisted that, in order to understand her philosophy, you had to read her fiction. This is the typical behaviour of a cult leader on a par with, say, L. Ron Hubbard. I often get the impression that all she was doing was hawking dodgy stories disguised as serious ‘philosophy’.  She claims philosophical descent from Aristotle and was possibly influenced by the young Nietzsche. Indeed some of her thought on the individual appear to be derived from Nietzsche’s  ‘free spirit’. But Rand is no Nietzsche either: there is no irony, no sarcasm, no spirituality; the human being is reduced to a rational calculating machine that is incapable of warmth, empathy or, indeed, humanity. Altruism is evil. Selfishness is good. A is A. If you like your binaries half-cooked, you’ll love Rand. If you want philosophy, look elsewhere.

Back to the manifesto.  It seems that the Tories were desperate to find some meaningful philosophical anchorage to their policy-making – something that didn’t sound too much like Thatcherism…  Remember, they don’t have Marx to fall back on and they’ve previously filleted some of Adam Smith’s economic ideas to suit their agenda, so they can hardly be considered deep-thinkers – though David Willetts enjoys giving the impression of being a serious philosophical character – so they plumbed for Ayn Rand. And who better to inject a Randian discourse into the Tories’ political bloodstream than those bad boys on the right of the party, The Free-marketeers, MC Mad Dan and DJ Dizzy Doug? You give those lefties hell!

Remember when Cameron told us how he wanted to “hand power back to the individual”? You’ve guessed it, straight out of Rand. You see the way The Quiet Man is attacking those on benefits? Uh huh, Rand again…though Rand wouldn’t have approved of IDS’s Catholicism – she was an atheist and she would have hated his advisor, Philippa Stroud, whose ‘church’ claims to ‘cure’ gays and lesbians. How about when IDS said, “work will set you free”? Er…let’s not go there…

It must be a frustrating time for some Tories; sitting on the government benches with the Lib Dems; the Christians having to keep schtum about the atheism of Rand and the libertarians claiming that the measures ‘don’t go far enough’.

On a lighter note, one of the characters in Atlas Shrugged says that “A lit cigarette symbolises a fire in the mind”.

No, I beg to differ, a lit cigarette symbolises ashtray breath, lung cancer and heart disease!

UPDATE:

Desperate Dan claims another “page from The Plan” has become policy.

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