Tag Archives: Jeremy Clarkson

Clarkson, Cameron, The BBC And The Great British Art Of Bullying

I’ve written about bullying before on this blog and once again, I find myself writing another blog on the subject.  Bullying in Britain is a national institution. The nation’s leaders and the captains of industry, many of whom were educated at Britain’s top public (independent) schools, learnt to bully others at an early age through the institutionalized regime of fagging. Yet the rest of us, in other words, those of us who didn’t go to an independent boarding school either become victims of their relentless bullying or internalize it. This internalization often finds its outward expression in the ridicule of people for the colour of their skin, their sex, their gender, their occupation, their disability or their social status. Whether we want to admit it or not, Britain is a nation of bullies.

When Jeremy Clarkson told the viewers of The One Show a couple of years ago that public sector workers “should be taken out and shot in front of their families”, he apologised but brushed it off as a “joke”. He is not the first person to do this: Bernard Manning and the other club comics of yesteryear, used a similar excuse: “I can laugh at myself, why can’t Pakis, nig-nogs and poofters do the same”? The issue here isn’t humour itself, but the racist and sexist discourses that are couched in humour, which has the effect of legitimizing such discourses. These jokes chime with the joke-teller’s inner world. For jokes and humour, unless I am very much mistaken, are not created in an ideological vacuum; they are affected by discourse, and the joke-teller is very much aware of this. Brushing off something as a “joke” convinces no one but the joke-teller.

Yesterday, David Cameron’s feeble, almost jokey, defence of Clarkson saw the latter being recast as a children’s entertainer (sic). Cameron claimed that he “was a great fan” of Clarkson and that his children would be “heartbroken” if he was taken off the air. “He’s one of my constituents”, Cameron added. Yes, and the rest of it. Others lined up behind Cameron to repeat the same spiel: Clarkson is a national treasure; a favourite with children. Laughable.

But what about free speech? What about it? The Clarkson incident wasn’t about free speech. Clarkson punched a producer because he couldn’t get what he wanted. In the vast majority of workplaces, it’s a sackable offence to use violence towards your work colleagues. When Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand made prank calls to actor, Andrew Sachs, they were dismissed. No questions asked.  Yet, Clarkson is seemingly in a different league to other workers. He punches a producer and 300,000 people sign a petition (that was started by Guido Fawkes) to have him reinstated. If you or I punched a workmate, we’d be told to leave the premises immediately and we’d be threatened with prosecution. Not Clarkson. In the end, the BBC merely suspended him,  which effectively amounts to little more than a slap on the wrists.

The Cat thinks Clarkson should be sacked with immediate effect and Top Gear should be cancelled and replaced with a new show. Preferably one that isn’t hosted by bullies and their mates. By allowing Clarkson to return after a period of suspension, the BBC sends out a message that bullying and violence are the legitimate means to get people to do what you want. Indeed, the BBC’s record when it comes to dealing with pederasts in its own ranks is woefully inadequate. It is, after all, run by members of his class who attended the same kinds of educational institutions. I’m not holding my breath for change.

UPDATE 24/3/15 @ 1940

Well, Clarkson’s been given the boot and already Brendan O’Neill has penned a paean to the man. In characteristic style, O’Neill has claimed that Clarkson’s sacking was because of “the dogmatic liberal elite”… now prepare to suspend your disbelief because I’ll repeat that, Clarkson’s sacking was because of “the dogmatic liberal elite”. A question: is O’Neill for real? What’s this really about? Look, Clarkson punched his producer after verbally abusing him for 20 minutes.The producer, Oisin Tymon, was taken to a local A&E for treatment for a cut and swollen lip. There’s no “liberal elite” involved here… unless you’re talking about the BBC’s management and even then, you’re barking up the wrong tree. The only people who believe the BBC is [coughs] “left-wing” are Tories, Kippers and assorted far-right knuckledraggers. But then, they’re fantasists and drama queens, so they make up stuff all the time.

This is O’Neill’s [ahem] argument in a nutshell.

Their main interest is not in protecting a BBC producer’s face from Clarkson’s fists — it’s in protecting the public’s ears, and our allegedly putty-like brains, from Clarkson’s words, from his consensus-pricking, fast-car loving, two-fingered salute to modern liberal orthodoxies.

Say what?

So, Clarkson’s on his way out. His former co-presenter, Quentin Willson, is less than flattering about the Repton Reptile, saying he was “difficult to work with”.

“If you’ve got a global audience of 350 million people hanging on your every word, then that makes you detached from your sources. It’s so sad that this is his requiem, if you like.”

Yeah, I’m all choked up.

However, that’s not the end of the story. Apparently North Yorkshire Police may want a word with Clarkson. Stick that in your pipe, O’Neill.

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Filed under BBC, Bullying, Child sex abuse, Media, racism, Sexism, Society & culture

Postcards From The Barricades (Part 9)

As usual, I’m listening to The Redskins on my mp3 player to get me in the mood for today’s march and rally in defence of public sector pensions. But the rally is about more than pensions: it’s about jobs and security. It’s also about the cuts that are being imposed upon the lowest paid workers. In most other circumstances, when a bigger person picks on a smaller or weaker person, the bigger person is called a “bully” and rightly so.  Bullies have become very much a feature of light entertainment schedules in recent years. I’ll talk about that a little later on. The coalition government and its chums in Fleet Street are the bullies. No mistake there. There are 23 millionaires in the cabinet, it’s not as if they’re going to have to make a choice between food and heating this Winter.

The BBC News Channel spent the entire morning, interviewing as many right-wing voices as they could muster in advance of the marches and rallies.  All of them repeating the same tiresome “This strike is wrong, blah, blah, blah…”. I don’t have time to listen to much of it as I’m too busy trying to get out of the door in good time for the march.

The man sitting next to me on the Tube is reading a copy of The Times, the headline reads “Osborne Strikes First”.  Ha ha, very funny. I alight at Holborn. I hate this station because the exit from the Piccadilly Line northbound platform is far too small. It’s like an inadequate storm gully that’s blocked with a few leaves and twigs, which overflows at the slightest hint of rainfall. As soon as I step out of the station, I’m swept along by a passing group of marchers down Kingsway. I arrive at Lincolns Inn Fields. It’s crowded and there are certainly more people here than the BBC’s Jon Sopel estimates. There are a few children about too. Here are a couple of kids getting into the spirit of things.

I walk along the southern side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, I can see some UCU balloons in the distance.  I spend a bit of time milling about, looking for people I know when I meet some familiar faces from UEL. One of them sees Dennis Skinner and shouts “Beast of Bolsover”! He smiles and nods.  Here’s The Beast scoffing a biscuit.

I can also see Peter Tatchell to my left but he has his back to me. We begin to make our way to Victoria Embankment,   I’m actually at the front of the march for a change. I took this picture of this rather funky looking float, I’d guess you’d call it.

The march proceeds slowly around Aldwych and onto The Strand. I find myself standing next to the BBC’s Mike Sergeant (yes, he is the son of John), who doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything. No sign yet of Paraig O’Brien. We’re finally allowed down The Strand. Lee Jasper cycles past me, he’s shouting through a loud hailer.

Either his bike is too small for him or the saddle is too low. At any rate, he shouldn’t be peddling with his arches. I walk past a load of scaffolding opposite Gilbraltar House, there are loads of photographers hanging from it. A security type says to them, “You realise it’s not fixed”. It looks fine to me; it would take more than twenty blokes to pull down this load of scaffolding. A few elephants, maybe… Security dude is being a spoilsport. Typical.

The French Confédération générale du travail, (CGT) have sent a delegation too.

It is one of five such confederations and is considered to be the most moderate. They’re not what you might call militant syndicalists either, the CGT… then again, nor is the TUC.

The pace of the march seems to be dictated by the authorities. Is there someone somewhere who is timing all of this? Working out the average speed over the distance travelled?  My phone goes off. I find somewhere to take the call. I’m not one of those people who walks and talks on the phone at the same time. As I finish the call, I can overhear some bloke next to me say, “They look like civil servants” adding “The problem with these marches is they attract activists”. Spoken like a true Sun reader. No irony. Full of sneering contempt for his fellow workers.

We arrive at Victoria Embankment. The speeches begin. The NASUWT’s John Rimmer’s speech gets cut short. I’m not sure why. Maybe he wrote too much and ran out of time. I don’t know. The UCU speaker who followed spoke without the aid of notes and was passionate but didn’t venture beyond slogans. I miss most of Christine Blower’s speech because I’m being distracted by the whispered news that some form of direct action is going to take place near Piccadilly Circus.

Unite’s Len McCluskey tells us that there are 50,000 on the march. Not bad for mid-week.  He’s followed by Ken Livingstone, who reminds us that MPs, who work in the public sector receive a pension of £40,000 per annum. He tells us that suicides on the tube network have doubled because of the redundancies and the debt people have been saddled with. Mark Serwotka of the PCS closes the platform speeches. “You are the people that make this country tick”.  For sure, because without public sector workers, the bins wouldn’t be emptied. I can’t think of anyone who would sign up to the idea of taking their refuse to the dump themselves. “It’s time that the Labour Party got off the fence and supported this  strike”, Serwotka says. I agree. The message coming from the Labour leadership is confused. There are Greens on this march and yet I didn’t see a single Labour Party banner.

I get home to hear the usual nonsense about the strike. Gove assumes the role of a graverobber and fashions a narrative from bones of long-dead trade union leaders. It’s unconvincing and undignified stuff. He cuts a desperate figure of a man. All guff and no substance.

Later on The One Show, Jeremy Clarkson is asked for his thoughts on today’s strike. Here’s what he says,

Franco would have loved him. Pinochet too. He’s a bully and bullying has become Britain’s national pastime. Top Gear is as much about bullying as it is cars. Some of the nation’s current crop stand-ups rely on getting laughs by picking on the little guy. H L Mencken once said “Comfort the afflicted and inflict the comfortable”.  There by the grace of God and all that stuff. Clarkson thrives on his role of professional gobshite and all-round boor. But this time, he’s overstepped the mark. A wise man once told me that, “There’s no such thing as a joke”. I truly believe that Clarkson meant what he said. By the way, Clarkson is a pal and neighbour of Lord Snooty and Rebekah Brooks.

I’ll leave you with this picture of a man with a well-pimped wheelchair.

The fight goes on!

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Filed under Society & culture, Trade Unions, workers rights

Hannan: McWhirter was a decent man (because I say so)

He who has the biggest wallet can afford free speech. Conversely, he who has the biggest wallet can silence those whose speech appears to cause them offence. The slight may be imagined. Indeed the slight may be exaggerated in order to hijack or control discourse. I expect some of the offended parties to talk about filing a lawsuit in the coming weeks.

And so it is with those right-wingers who have recently been offended by David Baddiel’s remarks about Norris McWhirter. Desperate Dan whines and moans that the BBC didn’t sack Baddiel for daring to compare The Freedom Association to the BNP. He says,

Still, can you imagine BBC comedians making equivalent remarks about a Left-of-Centre campaigner: Helena Kennedy, say, or Shami Chakrabati? Silly question, really.

He doesn’t ask the important question: why? Instead he sounds like a 6 year old child who’s just been told that he can’t watch cartoons because he has to do his homework. Life’s so tough. The thing is, neither of the people he mentions are anywhere near as vile or racist as McWhirter whose TFA was more than happy to support apartheid-era South Africa as well as Rhodesia. In fact, Kennedy and Chakrabarti have done more for ordinary people in this country than the McWhirter brothers ever managed in a lifetime.

A fundamentally decent man, a man who had served his country in the war against Nazism and had been awarded the CBE, was traduced on air, linked to Mosley and compared to the BNP.

“Fundamentally decent”?  Why? Because you say so? Don’t make me laugh.

His comment to one of his fans is quite amusing too,

The whole premise of the film is facile. The young David Baddiel goes to a talk at his public school (usual Leftie angst about public school, I was on a special scheme for the poor etc) expecting Norris to talk about the Guinness Book of Records. Instead Norris talks about politics and – angels and ministers of grace defend us – the man is RIGHT-WING.

Here is a dilemma for the teenage David. Someone he had admired turns out to disagree with him. But rather than consider why this admirable person might think differently, rather than allow the possibility that there might be two sides to an argument, he recoils in horror. Instead of thinking “If an impressive man like Norris is conservative, maybe there are some good conservatives”, he says “If an impressive man like Norris is a conservative, he can’t be as impressive as I had thought”.

As I’ve blogged before, what is striking about this attitude, which has become the default assumption among many on the Left, is not its narrow-mindedness or its stupidity, but it’s sheer narcissism. It redefines evil as “someone who disagrees WITH ME!”

So where did Baddiel describe anyone as “evil”? This trope that Hannan regurgitates is worth looking at closer. Here Hannan assumes that “many of the Left”  think that anyone who has a different point of view is ‘evil’.  It is so simplistic and barely takes a nano-second of thought. He has so far failed to provide any salient examples for his bizarre contention. We could read this comment in the same way as those comments and articles that are produced by the American right on the ‘left’: they are entirely constructed from tropes and myths. The left is “dangerous” or the left is “narrow-minded” (Dan evidently overlooks the narrow mindedness among his fellow Tories). The most popular trope is “liberal elites”, which always seems to trip off the tongue of an elitist. What Danny Boy seems to be missing is the fact that McWhirter’s appearance at Baddiel’s school confused him. McWhirter on Record Breakers was clearly a different person (almost avuncular) to the one that ran TFA. Of course, I knew the first time that I saw the McWhirter brothers there was something deeply disturbing about them. Patrick Moore too.

I’m not a fan of Baddiel. He was a part of that BritCom, BritPop, BritArt crap that was the zeitgeist of the mid-1990s. Strictly speaking, his remarks should be viewed within the context of the programme on which he appeared. Besides, Jeremy Clarkson gets away with a hell of a lot more.

If McWhirter had visited my school, I would have doubtless reached the same conclusion as Baddiel.

UPDATE:  6/3/11 @ 2342

Added additional paragraph about Baddiel and BritCom etc.

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Filed under Ideologies, Ideologies, Media, Society & culture