It hasn’t escaped Guido’s notice that across the political spectrum on mainstream and social media, including late-night left-wing live streams, that Chancellor ‘Dishy’ Rishi Sunak is being sexually objectified. Last night Owen Jones revealed he thinks Rishi “is not bad looking, objectively” before having to clarify defensively that “his politics aren’t sexy”. Even Sky’s Adam Boulton couldn’t stop himself talking today about the size of Rishi’s package…
Guido is surprised the left are happy to objectify politicians now – it wasn’t so long ago that there was a furore over Tracy Brabin’s risqué dispatch box dress. Is 2020 the year that political correctness has gone full circle?
Yesterday’s announcement by Boris declaring a partial unlocking for England on July 4, was met with overwhelming support from the public, a snap YouGov poll showing the plans have 64% public support versus 29% opposition. The left upon hearing the good news launched an internal debate over whether to boycott Wetherspoons upon its re-opening. Complete with #Neverspoons hashtag.
Hundreds of lefties on Twitter called on people to boycott the change in favour of pubs that “aren’t run by a far-right lunatic”. Tim Martin and 52% of the public only seem far to your right if you are on the far-left…
The boycott-happy left missed one crucial endorsement, however – actual Wetherspoon employees. The official “SpoonStrike” account – amplified by Owen Jones – asked their 5,000 followers not to boycott the chain, as it will result in “hours cuts and loss of earnings”.
Not good enough reasons for the righteous left, who are now accusing Spoons employees and Owen Jones of “Stockholm syndrome”, saying they refuse to give Tim Martin their money and comparing it to “like don’t boycott South Africa during apartheid because the poor will suffer most.” Quite. Sorry Wetherspoons workers, for the wokerati ideological purity will always come before your livelihoods…
Day after day on our screens broadcasters have an insatiable appetite for “talking heads”, articulate people who can make interesting television by making a passionate case. Producers are on the look out for people with knowledge of the hot issue of the day who they can use to make interesting viewing. This is why old Owen Jones was never off our screens for years, why you see so much of our Tom Harwood and literal communists like Ash Sarkar on the news shows. They provide opinionated ping-pong television refereed by presenters, sometimes it is a freak show, sometimes we learn something. Harmless so long as the panels are balanced and the viewers told where the talking heads are coming from when they are introduced, viewers can make up their own minds.
During the pandemic, though the trend has been apparent for a long time, talking heads are introduced suggesting viewers should be more inclined to give their opinions weight by virtue of their professional standing. Yet time after time these experts turn out to be undisclosed partisan political campaigners on the issue they are talking about. If this was made transparent the viewers would be much better placed to judge and contextualise the sometimes outlandish claims made.
The BBC have guidelines on the issue:
We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities and think-tanks) are unbiased. Appropriate information about their affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints should be made available to the audience, when relevant to the context.
On financial news channels (like CNBC, Bloomberg and Reuters) when fund managers are interviewed about their views on the stock market the presenter will often ask them “do you own the stock?”. Sometimes there will be a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen saying the fund manager has a position in the company being discussed. This came about after a number of scandals where interviewees had talked up stocks they were long or disparaged stocks they short. There should be a similar protocol for talking heads who are political campaigners.
Either when they are introduced or on screen at the bottom, it would be helpful if “Tracey Teacher is a Tory activist” or “Professor Boffin is a Communist Party central committee member” was indicated. No one is saying they should not be allowed to give their views, we’re just asking that their affiliations should be clearly labelled. Otherwise we end up with “news investigations” which are little more than party political broadcasts…
As much as it amuses Guido and generates television producer pleasing social media buzz, hasn’t the rise of the TrotsApp generation of talking heads on our screens undermined the Labour Party more effectively than the “billionaire-owned media” could ever do? In the postmortems the effect of the continuous platforming by broadcasters of far-left types – just because they are extremely active on Twitter – by current affairs shows should be reflected on. It normalised people who would in the past have only been selling Trotskyite papers outside train stations.
The negative effect is two-fold, firstly the zealous Labour activist base become ever more radicalised as the self-defined Trotskyites and communists normalise policies that are far away from the views and values of traditional Labour voters. As we found out last week.
Secondly, it just encourages polarisation, pitting Katie Hopkins against a silly luxuriating communist might make a noisy and watchable bunfight, does it really inform the viewers much? Policy development is made in think tanks of the left, right and centre. It is made by single-issue campaigns with deep knowledge of their subjects. It is not made by people who scream about billionaires and want “to kick the Tories out of Labour” whilst describing the Prime Minister as a fascist and “alt-right”. Shouting slogans and their well rehearsed soundbites doesn’t add to the sum of political knowledge in any meaningful way.
This is not to say they should be no-platformed. When Paul Mason or Owen Jones has a book out, let’s hear from them. They are articulate voices of the left, that articulacy alone does not warrant giving them almost continuous airtime. Do we really need them on our screens every day? That hasn’t done the Labour Party any good. Producers and bookers may want to reflect and seek out more representative left-of-centre voices.
As the polling seems to suggest that the Labour Party’s offer of free things to voters might perhaps be a teensy weensy little bit less than credible, it seems to be dawning on some of the smarter Labour lefties that they might just possibly be about to lose. Guido has a sense that the penny is dropping for Owen Jones that his adoring Twitter following is not representative of Britain. It must be doubly demoralising for Owen, because he worked out years ago that Corbyn was rubbish. Then after Corbyn lost the 2017 general election not as badly as expected, he reverted back to public Corbyn adoration. Here is a reminder of what Owen Jones really thinks about Jeremy Corbyn:
Owen issued a mea culpa to Corbyn and his inner circle in 2017 and has since been publicly loyal, even though Corbyn is still the same. The truth is that in his heart Owen again knows that the absolute boy is, to coin a phrase, “teetering on the edge of looming calamity”.
Owen Jones’s customary Tory Conference video has just come out, which includes a rather amusing clip of him asking Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft whether he trusts Boris. The response took Jones and Guido by surprise…