Why losing Clarkson is the BBC’s biggest mistake since keeping Jimmy Savile

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This isn’t so much a piece about Jeremy Clarkson as about all the other celebrities the BBC employs who aren’t Jeremy Clarkson.

I call them the “Wankerati.”

Here are some examples:

Ian Hislop; Dara O’Briaiaiaan; Brian “PermaSmile Astro Boy” Cox; Bill Oddie; Russell Howard; Simon Singh; Noel Fielding; Marcus Brigstocke; Jeremy Hardy; everyone else on the News Quiz; the unfunny has-beens from the Now Show whose names I can’t be bothered to look up; Chris Packham; Rick Edwards; Graham Linehan; Lenny Henry; Emily Maitlis; Ian Katz; David Mitchell; Russell Howard; Bill Bailey; Jo Brand; Monty Don; Simon Schama; Russell Howard….

As you can see, the list is by no means complete because it needs to include more or less everyone at the BBC who isn’t Jeremy Clarkson. Some of you may be concerned at the fact that Russell Howard doesn’t appear nearly often enough for one so lame and annoying. Others may be perturbed by the presence of presenters they admire – such as, maybe, Ian Hislop who, I’d quite agree, is really, really good at fronting programmes on Victorian hymns, World War I or railway timetables.

But this isn’t about talent – or lack of – it’s about personal politics. Everyone on that list ranges in outlook from the nauseatingly bien-pensant to the rabidly left-wing, to the point where you could fairly confidently predict their position on any number of topics from Nigel Farage, Israel/Palestine and global warming all the way through to mildly racist jokes, foxhunting, bankers, positive discrimination and the European Union. Oh, and Jeremy Clarkson, of course. Few, if any of the people on that list would be able to find much good to say about Jeremy Clarkson. Which, of course, is one of the reasons why the BBC’s sacking of Clarkson is going to turn out to be such a massive mistake. He was the one major talent in the entire organisation who wasn’t like all the others…

And till Clarkson’s nemesis BBC Controller of TV Danny Cohen came along, the BBC appears instinctively to have understood his value. Not his commercial value (the BBC likes to think it’s above such vulgarities) but rather his propaganda value. Top Gear was the BBC’s equivalent of a Potemkin Village or – a bit of Clarksonesque bad taste here, why not? – those films the Nazis used to make of jolly, well-fed Jews playing in orchestras and sitting in cafes near their delightful new living quarters in the Warsaw Ghetto. Any time unhelpful people started banging on about the BBC’s entrenched left-wing bias and maddening political correctness, all the Beeb had to do was point at the self-evidently notleft-wing and not PC Top Gear as proof of the contrary.

Till the BBC sacked Clarkson, my view was that they were going to get away this game for many years hence. But now I am not so sure.

Over a million people signed that petition urging the BBC to reinstate Clarkson. A fair proportion of them, I suspect, will belong to precisely that demographic the BBC finds most embarrassing: white, obviously; probably Thatcherite in outlook, but quite fond of Nigel Farage; highly sceptical of “global warming”; petrolheads, again obviously; not averse to telling the odd racist joke when they’re with their mates, not so much because they have anything against “coloured” people (as they probably call them, not knowing the correct term) but more as a reaction against political correctness; might not have gone to “uni” because they could tell it was a complete waste of time. People who – at least in the BBC’s Weltanschauung – are pretty much beyond the pale.

Unfortunately for the BBC, however, these disgusting, frightful people, very few of whom live anywhere civilised like North London or have ever knowingly eaten cavolo nero, represent a much larger percentage of the population than any of the worthy groups it would prefer to cater to (the “Asian” community; gay people; disabled people; Roma; environmentalists; activists; etc). While Top Gear was on – the modern equivalent of “bread and circuses” – this mob were kept at bay. But with Top Gear gone, they may incline to feel that they have been cheated – like a serially abused child whose one and only toy has finally snatched away from him by his prissy, unloving, perma-stubbled, tofu-eating stepfather.

In short, for many years the BBC has been living a lie. It has pretended – as its Charter requires of it – that it’s for everyone when really it has continually and ruthlessly shut out any presenters, programmes or opinions which don’t fit into its narrow, metropolitan, left-liberal narrative. And what the Clarkson sacking has done is brought this issue to a head. Also – a bit like Gamergate did for gamers – it has woken large numbers of people who hadn’t hitherto thought of themselves as particularly political into an appreciation of how badly they’ve been conned and abused by a narrow, self-selecting and very political elite who despise them.

Read the brilliant pay-off at Breitbart London

Everything is getting worse; stranger in my own country; etc

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There was a letter to the Daily Telegraph last weekend which depressed me more than anything I’ve read in ages. It reported the visit by a social worker to an elderly woman who made her a cup of tea. The young social worker was shocked by what she saw. Not only did this bewildered old woman insist on using leaves rather than a bag but she first poured some hot water into the pot, swirled it round, then wasted it by putting it straight down the sink. Here, clearly, was evidence that grandma was incapable of looking after herself and should be put into care immediately.

This put me in mind of another experience I had recently. I was having dinner with a group of friends in an upmarket London pub and we all wanted our burgers cooked medium rare. ‘They won’t allow it,’ said a local friend in the know. ‘We’re under Westminster Council jurisdiction, here.’ Sure enough, when the time to order came we had to beg and plead with the manager for our burgers not be overcooked, as local health laws now require.

It also reminded me of my recent adventures with my dentist, a clearly bright, well-spoken girl in her twenties of, I’m guessing, Pakistani extraction. She obviously knows all her stuff but I can’t stand her. The problem is that she has the most appalling dental-chair-side manner. She’s officious, patronising, fully bought-into the NHS programme, whereby every patient is a statistic rather than a real person. It seems never to have occurred to her that the way you address an educated, middle-aged country gent might need to be slightly different from the way, say, you speak to a porcine 15-year-old chav.

Also, she gives off these truly horrible politically correct vibes. Some of the most interesting and enjoyable conversations of my life are the ones I have with people of different races and cultures about where they come from and how the world looks from their perspective.

For example, the other day, coming back from Naples in Florida to Miami airport I had the most amazing chat — so good that I recorded it on my iPhone — with a black Caribbean naturalised American. He told me how he and his fellow black Caribbean émigrés absolutely hated being called ‘black Americans’ because he considered black Americans to be no-good welfare scroungers, whereas his own lot, he insisted — he was originally from Dominican Republic — were incredibly hard workers who just wanted to get on, and simply couldn’t be doing with the identity politics game.

‘What, all Caribbeans? What about the Jamaicans?’ I asked. My friend explained the tragedy of the Jamaicans: that they used to be the hardest working of the already very hard-working Caribbean islanders, but then Bob Marley had come along and introduced them to a) ganja and b) the concept that by working hard they were playing the white man’s game.

But my friend didn’t care about such political issues. His all-time favourite president, he said, was Ronald Reagan because he was good for immigrants and the economy. He also liked Clinton because of his way with the ladies. He was agnostic about Obama — and certainly didn’t feel any bond with him because of his skin colour.

Then he told me about his childhood growing up on a farm in Dominican Republic, in the saddle for up to 15 hours a day, making his horse stronger for racing by training it in rivers and in the sea. And about his children whom he had deliberately brought up to be ignorant of Spanish because he thought (mistakenly, he realised, in the light of how the southern USA has gone) that they would assimilate better. They were now both officers in the US Navy, one a doctor, one an engineer, clearly destined to join the upper middle class.

And you know how the conversation all began? I told him how horribly burned I’d got on the beach the first day. ‘I don’t expect you’ve ever had sunburn,’ I said. Perhaps I’m maligning my scary young dentist woman, but I can just imagine her glaring her disapproval at such a patently demeaning and racist line of inquiry. She probably thinks I’m Colonel Blimp.

I haven’t quite turned 50 yet and I really still don’t feel that old but when I encounter young people like the dentist girl it makes me feel about 80. And it’s not a good feeling, let me tell you. It gives me an inkling of how my beloved late mother-in-law felt on her final visits to hospital, when the staff would impertinently insist on addressing her by her first name (which they got wrong, by the way). And of how people of a certain generation feel when they innocently use an old-fashioned word like ‘half-caste’ or ‘coloured’ only to have all their offspring squirm with embarrassment, on account of how such phrases simply aren’t used any more.

Not so long ago, I tweeted one of my most oft-retweeted tweets. It went something like: ‘You know how 20 years ago, we looked at the dumbed-down education system and said to ourselves: “When this lot grow up, we are fucked”? Well now they’ve grown up.’

It was popular, of course, because it’s true. I don’t want to slag off the young completely: a lot of them are still great. But I do very much fear that thanks to a combination of several generations’ deliberate dumbing down of education by the Gramsciite left, widespread cultural indoctrination in the politically correct values of the state, and the arrival of a wave of immigrants who (through no fault of their own) are unfamiliar with what Britain is and what it ought to be, people of my generation and older are increasingly doomed to feel like strangers in our country. I’ll save two bullets for my revolver: one for the social worker; one for me.

Read the rest at The Spectator

As Farage has just been reminded, there’s no fascist like a liberal fascist

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Suppose Labour leader Ed Miliband had been out yesterday for a quiet bacon sandwich with his wife and kids only to be harassed and terrorised by a bunch of protestors from the Daily Mail. Can you imagine the coverage it would get on the BBC and in the Guardian?

And what about if Green party leader Natalie Bennett had a few friends round for a vegan barbecue, only to be driven from their supplies of tofu and mung beans and cucumber dip by a crowd of Spectator journalists dressed in pin stripe suits and bowler hats?

There’s a reason you can’t imagine these scenarios, except in jest. It’s because the right-leaning media just doesn’t promote or engage in political activism in the way that the left-leaning media does, especially not the kind of direct action stunt we saw yesterday being carried out against Nigel Farage by a mob led by an activist (and occasional Guardian columnist) called Dan Glass. (h/t Bishop Hill)

The Guardian clearly loves Dan Glass. Here’s what it had to say a few years back about his work “fighting to stop the injustice of climate change.”

Dan Glass, 27, activist

“Whenever anybody sticks their head above the parapet they’re seen as a lunatic, but we need to show the inadequacies of the legal system for protecting the earth.”

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Dan was recently named one of Attitude Magazine’s 66 new role models for his work on bridging the gay rights and environmental justice movements. He revels in creating militant but cheeky ways to be a “thorn in the side of those destroying the planet”; he has stuck himself to a former prime minister, occupied Aberdeen airport, danced with old ladies blighted by flightpaths, and worked in deprived inner-city communities with So We Stand. Dan has spent much of 2010 in court, over action he took with protest group Plane Stupid at Aberdeen airport, and is now on trial for allegedly conspiring to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power station (the verdict is expected today). You can read his article on the disproportionate effects of climate change on marginalised communities in December’s Attitude magazine – it’s the one with lots of naked men on the cover.

Besides having run three columns by Glass, the Guardian has also given space to the Trotskyite burblings of perma-revolutionary Eva Jasiewicz – another member of the fancy dress mob who harrassed the Farages at the weekend.  And also to this woman, Pennie Quinton who was also boasting on Twitter about her involvement in the anti-UKIP renta-mob. See also Guardian contributor Emily Churchill (no relation, one imagines), who crowed about having helped ruin the Farage family lunch with the phrase “We are family!”

Now you could argue that the Guardian can’t be held responsible for the actions of a few idiots who have written for it in the past. Maybe not. But what you can most definitely blame it for, I think, is the uncritical coverage it gives both to them individually (see flattering profile of Glass above) and collectively at protests everywhere from Kingsnorth to Balcombe.

Whether these protests are about breast-feeding or coal-fired power or fracking or neonicotinoids or bankers or air travel, what you find time and again is the same hardcore of activists at the heart of each protest. The cause seems to be almost an irrelevance. What counts far more is the intensity of their shrill self-righteousness and the corresponding passion of their hatred for whichever particular target they happen to be protesting against on that particular day.

You can see that self-righteousness in some of the comments below the Guardian’s report on the Farage affair. Here’s one from a charmer calling himself “Postcolonial”.

Well I suppose they could have tarred and feathered him. But we can still dream.

And here is the Guardian’s columnist Suzanne Moore telling us that the protestors who had Farage’s children fleeing in fear were just a lovely, harmless, playful bunch really and that the Farages over-reacted…

Those protesting against Farage were in fancy dress, which is why the pub owners thought it was some kind of birthday party. They called themselves “a cabaret of diversity” and were seeking to represent some of the groups Farage has offended: “Migrants, HIV activists, gay people, disabled people and breast-feeding mothers.” No doubt this boisterous group may have seemed a bit scary although, to be honest, it all looked harmlessly theatrical in the pictures.

The worst thing that Moore can find to say about the incident is that it may play to Farage’s advantage.

And actually, it may backfire for other reasons too, because increasingly Farage plays the victim. And this allows him to. He can present himself as the innocent victim of attacks by fruitcakes, when, in fact, he spends most of his time attacking the vulnerable.

(If Moore had wanted to make the point with the charm and wit of which unfortunately she is incapable, she might have nicked this, much funnier analysis from a Guardian commentator called Boynamedstu: “Because nothing will make people considering voting for UKIP change their mind than a coachload of inner city dwelling, unemployed drama graduates and soap dodgers intimidating him and scaring his kids while he is out for a Sunday lunch. These arsehats have probably done more to increase the UKIP vote than a front page picture of a Romanian eating a swan while shitting on a Princess Di commemorative tea towel.”)

Read the thrilling, insightful, moving pay off at Breitbart London

BBC Radio 2 audience in ‘too white’ shock

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The BBC Trust is worried about the relatively small number of BAME listeners who tune in to BBC’s over-35s station Radio 2.

(BAME, by the way, is the latest PC term for people who aren’t white. It stands for Black and Ethnic Minorities. So remember that, Cumberbatch, next time you’re on TV and you want to demonstrate how impeccably right on you are. Remember, also, to pronounce it correctly. The “a” is long, as in “car”. And the “me” is pronounced as in “me no likee all this PC bollocks”. Get it right Ben, my friend, and this could land you your next potentially Oscar-nominated starring role in the forthcoming biopic The Lenny Henry Story).

I’m worried too. However few BAME people actually listen to Radio 2 it is still far, far too many, as I was reminded only yesterday while listening to BBC Radio 2’s star morning fixture, the Ken Bruce show.

Ken was wittering away – as Ken does – about alarm clocks. The thing about alarm clocks, he pointed out, is that you grow attached to them and never think to replace them till they’re broken. Because why would you, when they’re not broken? Why indeed, Ken? Why indeed.

Though I’m not a racist myself, I suspect that if I were I would be very, very enthusiastic about the BBC Trust’s recommendation that BBC Radio 2 “should address the disparity in reach among BAME listeners.” What I’d want is for ethnic minority people is to be rounded up off the streets a bit like the Child Catcher does in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (perhaps they could be lured into his cage with ackee fruit or samosas or fried noodles, or whatever the BBC’s Chief Diversity Officer believes is best suited to the local community), herded into a large room full of comfortable arm chairs and forced to listen to BBC2 Radio 2 for a whole day, with perhaps a double dose of Ken Bruce, then Jamie Cullum’s jazz programme and Sunday Night With Michael Ball.

Then they too will appreciate, as Radio 2’s mainly middle-aged and elderly white audience does already, that to become a regular listener of Radio 2 is to enter death’s waiting room. You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

You might wonder, incidentally, what I was doing listening to Ken Bruce in the first place. The reason was, I had tried Radio 4 and it was the All Men Are Rapist Bastards Show (aka Woman’s Hour with Jenni “actually, I’m Dame Jenni Murray” Murray); then I’d tried Radio 3 – but instead of classical music it was an interview with some black opera singer talking about ethnic minorities and I just thought: “I simply don’t care. No one does. There’s no colour bar for opera singers – see, for example, the not exactly unstellar career of Jessye Norman. If I want to hear a black woman on Radio 3, I’d like to hear her doing Strauss’s Four Last Songs, not making some half-baked political point.” Things have come to a pretty pass, haven’t they, when you scan the BBC airwaves and you realise that Ken Bruce is the least worst alternative?

Reading further down the BBC Trust’s report, though, what puzzled me was its inconsistency. At no point in its discussion of the BBC radio Asian Network did it express concerns about the fact that fully 85 per cent of its listener base are of “Asian” (ie from the Indian subcontinent) origin. Oughtn’t the station to be doing more to broaden its audience, perhaps by ditching some of the programmes in “a range of South Asian languages” and maybe giving a slot to Jeremy Clarkson, who seems to be available at the moment? Just a thought.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

Why I’ll miss Mad Men a bit. But not that much…

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There’s a scene in the finale of season six that embodies everything that’s so right and so wrong with Mad Men. Don Draper, that fathomless enigma of a Madison Avenue copywriting anti-hero, is pitching for the Hershey’s chocolate account. Hershey’s represents that dream combination — an American brand legend that has never really advertised before. So winning this deal really matters.

Draper — as always — is pitch-perfect. Selling products is about telling stories. And the story here is about how good the young Don Draper felt when his Daddy took him into a store and offered to buy him anything he wanted. Naturally he chose a Hershey’s bar. The clients are desperately impressed and on the verge of signing a deal.

Unfortunately, Draper has been drinking heavily before the meeting. Having told the clients what they want to hear, he now tells them the truth: that Hershey’s is a product that doesn’t really need advertising and that his blissful childhood was a lie — he was actually raised a hated child in a whorehouse and whenever he ate Hershey’s it was in misery and alone. The clients make their excuses and leave.

Now it’s a great scene — exquisitely acted, sharply scripted, charged with deep meaning about the nature of advertising — but it’s also a fundamentally dishonest one. Draper is in the throes of an alcohol-enhanced nervous breakdown. In the same episode, we see him lying in the drunk tank, having been picked up by the police for beating up a pastor who tried talking him into temperance. Before the meeting he has a huge slug of whiskey. So what kind of superman is he that he can always look immaculate and glamorous and function perfectly, even while drunk — yet simultaneously blow his career, as required by the exigencies of plot tension, in the next instant?

A typical Mad Men superman is what. For they’re all at it, not just Don: Roger Sterling, the perma-irritating, annoyingly dressed heir to his more talented father’s agency; Pete Campbell, the serially unfaithful upper-class bastard. The womenfolk too, to a degree — goofily bangable Peggy, thick but immaculate Betty, voluptuously formidable Joan. They chain-smoke and booze and fornicate like there are no consequences, for in Mad Men there really aren’t. Sure your career might go up and down and there might be some heartbreak, but you never once lose hold of the really important things — your looks, your style and your cool.

This, I’m sure, is why art directors and stylists (and of course copywriters) are so especially drawn to Mad Men; why for them it’s just the greatest TV series ever which will never be surpassed. What it shows is the Sixties as they’d have liked it to have been had they personally been styling it: with everyone looking fab in op art dresses and oh-my-God haircuts and hilarious sideburns and Eames chairs and Martinis and cigarettes and suits so slick and immaculately cut that basically all men’s fashion since 2007 (when the series was first broadcast) has more or less been dictated by Mad Men retro chic.

Obviously this is its great strength: besides making Mad Men at once achingly nostalgia-inducing (even the washed-out colouring is right, just like an ad from a Sixties magazine) and smoulderingly gorgeous to look at (each episode is the equivalent of an hour with the beautiful people in the latest boutique hotel), it also points up the underlying theme, which is about identity, and the contrast between surface gloss and concealed dross.

But it’s also, I’d argue, its main weakness. Almost never have I been able to watch a Mad Men scene without being acutely conscious of the effort that went into making it: everything from the awkwardness of the actors having to smoke so much in (what now seem) the unlikeliest of situations (on a plane before take-off; preparing food for the kids’ party; in bed) to the sourcing of every last über-recherché bit of collectible furniture to the fabric patterns and cuts so bang on trend for the specific year in which each episode is set that you think less of the period itself than of the style books the researchers must have consulted to get it exactly right.

All this stems, of course, from the series’ brilliant, obsessive creator Matthew Weiner (a protégé of David Chase, the man behind of The Sopranos — on which Weiner spent several seasons as writer/producer) whose anally retentive attention to detail is legendary. On one occasion, he famously dismissed a bowl of plump, shiny apples from the set on the grounds that Sixties fruit was smaller, dumpier than today’s. Quite right, I’m sure. But the odd effect of all this perfectionism, rather than enhance the series’ realism, is to draw attention to its artifice.

This is why, as the second half of Mad Men’s seventh and final season approaches, I find myself unable to get quite so depressed at its imminent demise as I did with, say, The Sopranos or Breaking Bad. It’s great to look at; I loved the politically incorrect escapism of all that smoking and misogyny; and its depiction of low, Machiavellian office politics and advertising will surely never be surpassed. But one episode did often seem rather like another, and at the end you felt slightly hollow and cheated and depressed, as unfortunately you do with things where style takes precedence over content. Maybe, though, I’m being unsophisticated. Maybe that was the whole point.

From the Spectator

Guardian editor-in-chief hits peak stupid

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I’d been meaning to write today about why Oxford University should divest itself of one of its zoology graduates. But I’m afraid that will have to wait because I’ve just read today’s Guardian cover story and have realised that the stupid runs much deeper than George Monbiot and goes right to the top.

The piece is sub-headed “Why it’s time to start divesting from the companies that already have far more fossil fuels than they can ever be allowed to use” and it’s written by the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger.

Now in the past I have been fairly agnostic about Rusbridger. His Harry Potterish appearance, his Quixotic secret ambition to be a concert pianist, his £400,000 salary package and his public school education (Cranleigh) all led me to believe that, for all the ghastliness of his newspaper’s politics, he was deep down a loveably ramshackle closet capitalist and probably not nearly as brainlessly left-wing as the Guardian.

What changed my view first was the Guardian’s disgusting complicity in the Edward Snowden intelligence leaks. Amazingly Rusbridger’s newspaper shared a Pullitzer prize for this, despite growing evidence that these leaks have done untold damage to the security of both Britain and the US and have certainly aided and abetted Islamist terror groups like ISIS.

Now Rusbridger has jumped onto yet another suicidal bandwagon, this time cheerleading a campaign for all the world’s big institutions, fund managers and so on to “divest” their share portfolios of their fossil fuel holdings. (Among the logos of companies featured on the Guardian’s cover as examples of “the most polluting coal, gas and oil companies in the world” is that of Shell, which for a long time sponsored the Guardian’s Environment pages. I hope Shell appreciates this display of gratitude).

In vain, though, do you find in Rusbridger’s lengthy apologia for this campaign any evidence as to why it is justified.

It is, rather, little more than a collection of slogans and dubious assertions. This first paragraph gives you a taste.

The world has much more coal, oil and gas in the ground than it can safely burn. That much is physics. Anyone studying the question with an open mind will almost certainly come to a similar conclusion: if we and our children are to have a reasonable chance of living stable and secure lives 30 or so years from now, according to one recent study 80 per cent of the known coal reserves will have to stay underground, along with half the gas and a third of the oil reserves.

This is scientific, political, economic and social illiteracy. It presupposes, first, that the case for man-made global warming theory is proven (which – duh – it so totally isn’t); and second, that all the nations of the world will have the collective will refuse to take advantage of the natural resources beneath their seas and their soil on the say so of kooks like the Prince of Wales, Al Gore and Alan Rusbridger. I particularly love that phrase “anyone studying the question with an open mind….”, which clearly doesn’t apply to Rusbridger himself. If it did, he would surely at least have acquainted himself with the fact the 87 per cent of the world’s energy demand is currently satisfied by fossil fuels and that renewable energy has proved itself quite unable to replace them on any economically viable level.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

What do America’s kittens think about global warming? We need to know!

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Today, we learn from the New Republic, a delegation of six schoolkids is visiting Washington DC with a view to educating Republican senators including Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz about the reality of global warming.

Let us pause awhile to relish the arrogance, stupidity and frankly borderline child-abusive nature of this ludicrous stunt, cooked up by the hard-left pressure group Avaaz.

One of the kids, Nadia Sheppard, 16 from North Carolina is quoted as saying: “Scientists have noticed that this was a problem for a really long time, like, maybe 20 years ago? Longer than I’ve been alive.”

Yeah, but, like, Nadia, what scientists have also, like, noticed is that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1998, the year before you were born. Does it not strike you as a bit suspicious that the thing you’ve been told by your teachers constitutes the greatest peril of our age – “global warming” – hasn’t actually happened at any stage in your entire existence?

Not that I’m blaming poor Nadia or those other hapless kids who have been dragooned into this stunt. Rather I blame Avaaz – and the broader climate alarmism movement generally – for co-opting innocents like this into their grubby propaganda wars.

Two points worth remembering about kids are a) their frontal lobes haven’t formed so they’re impulsive and irrational and b) the quality of their knowledge is dependent on the quality of their teaching, so if they’ve been taught idiocy then they will spout idiocy.

Later in the article, we learn of a separate poll, commissioned by Avaaz last year, which revealed that of more than a thousand US 12-year-olds polled, 90 per cent responded that climate change is real and “significantly” driven by human activity.

This devastating near-unanimity among America’s prepubescents on the reality of climate change I personally find moving, powerful and hugely persuasive.

I’m now just an opinion poll away from being forced to recognise the error of my ways. So tell us, please, Avaaz because this is really important and we’re dying to know:

Is America’s kitten population similarly convinced of the reality of global warming? And if it is, mightn’t this have the makings of a devastatingly effective media campaign with the potential to go viral like you would not believe?

Read the rest at Breitbart London

How Oxford’s police and social services looked away while 370 underage girls were gang-raped

sexringallmen-640x480I’ve been reading the official report into the latest Muslim rape gang atrocity – in Oxford, this time, city of dreaming spires and the kind of place you’d never imagine such appalling crimes possible over such a period of time and on such a scale.

Be warned: the details are not for the squeamish.

But I think it’s important we’re all fully aware exactly what happened so that we can direct our righteous rage in the appropriate direction. People have been getting away with murder here – and I don’t mean the rapists: at least, finally, at long last, they’re going down. I mean the authorities responsible who, at time of writing, look as if they’re going to get off scot free.

Here, in bullet point form, are some excerpts from the testimony of the estimated 370 victims – all of them white girls, mostly from broken or abusive homes or in “care”, generally aged between about 12 and 15. The abusers were much older men from mainly Kashmiri-Pakistani backgrounds (though one of the convicted men was from Saudi Arabia, another from North Africa), who groomed the girls beforehand. That is they – or one of their younger associates – first showered these vulnerable, emotionally needy girls with affection that some of them had never had before; then they made them feel important and grown up by giving them gifts and alcohol and drugs; then, when the girls were hooked the trap-door suddenly shut and they found themselves being serially abused as sex slaves.

Oh, and the details below – according to the report – are the expurgated version. Apparently there’s other stuff so horrible the report wouldn’t print it.

  • They threatened to blow up my house with my Mum in it
  • I was expected to do things – if I didn’t they said they would come to my house and burn me alive. I had a baby brother
  • They took us to a field where there were other men who had come to have sex with us. I tried not to do it. There were five of them
  • I took so many drugs – it was just a mish-mash
  • Now I feel I was raped – I didn’t have any choice
  • I wouldn’t ever have said no – they’d have beaten the shit out of me
  • It was always Asian men
  • I got deeper and deeper into this group
  • Sometimes I was driven into alleys and woods and men would have sex with me
  • I wouldn’t have done this if I was sober. That’s why the men gave us so much to drink
  • Both men had sex with me lots of times – oral and vaginal
  • I hate them… all they do is rape you… all they want is sex… it’s happened to girls I know, not me before you ask, I not like that
  • When we were at the flats I knew I was there to have sex with whichever men were brought there.
  • He urinated on me
  • I was spit roasted [made to have sex simultaneously with two men]
  • I didn’t want to go to the places to do what I did, but it was my job
  • I went to London on my own to have sex with men they arranged
  • The fear is still very real for me – though they are in jail I still check the cars

This was going on for 15 years, remember. So where, you might wonder, were the police?

Well the report makes lots of excuses for them. Apparently, they were a bit confused over what technically constituted under age sex – statutory rape as it would be called in the US; they felt ill-equipped as to how to respond when, say they found a middle aged Pakistani taxi driver in a car with condoms and a drunk girl looking no older than 14 (yeah: maybe it was just her boyfriend, right?); and they hadn’t been taught properly about CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation), which is the formal term now given for this kind of crime.

But the really damning thing for me is the report’s revelations that actually some police officers DID try to speak out, desperately and repeatedly, only to have their concerns squashed or ignored.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

I hate Lush. I love Aldi. How about you?

Profits Rise At Aldi Supermarket Chain

Are you Lush or are you Aldi? Me, I’m Aldi all the way. So much so that when someone — usually my daughter — tries to drag me anywhere near one of Lush’s painfully ubiquitous high street cosmetics shops, I respond a bit like the Antichrist does in the ‘it’s just a church, Damien’ scene in The Omen, writhing and shrieking like I’m about to be dissolved in acid. (Which, funnily enough, is rather how my skin feels when I’ve treated myself to one of Lush’s fizzing bath bombs)

Not, it must be said, that there is anything remotely Antichrist-like about hating Lush. On the contrary, it is the perfectly natural response of any civilised, intelligent, moral human being. What’s wrong with Lush? Everything is wrong with Lush, but in a nutshell, it’s this: that it’s not so much a shop as a marketing trick; a candy-coloured, berry-scented, personally gift-wrapped exercise in organic, ethnically sourced, fair-trade turd-polishing.

If Lush were a circus, it would be touchy-feely, painfully right-on and thrill-free Cirque Du Soleil. If it were a movie, it would be something like that overstyled, hyper-whimsical Wes Anderson picture The Grand Budapest Hotel. If Lush were a Mr Benn episode, it would be the spaceman one where he goes to another planet and picks up lots of jewels only to discover on bringing them back to Festive Road that they’re all just rocks.

You go in and it’s all so seemingly enticing: the handwritten-esque labels done in the overexcitable decorative style of girls called Bekki who draw a circle over the ‘i’ instead of a dot; the gaudy chunks of rippled soap which look and smell more delicious than cake; the hovering assistants who want to be like your bestest friend ever and make you feel so thrilled and validated by your purchase that it’s like you’ve got a new boyfriend, a pony and an Anya Hindmarch bag rolled into one.

Look, I’m not knocking the elegantly cynical business model. Nor the sweet if hyper-enthusiastic customer service. But let’s not kid ourselves that there’s anything innocent or homespun or altruistic or counter-cultural about it. For all its support of right-on causes (Lush is aggressively anti-Israel, anti-foxhunting, anti-animal testing, pro-UK Uncut) Lush is really just another ugly vulture capitalist — buying very cheap ingredients and selling them very dear.

Now compare the Lush experience with the Aldi one, which is pretty much the exact opposite. Take Aldi’s 30-day-aged Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak, which sells for less than a fiver, and is as well-marbled, buttery and flavoursome as anything you’d find for twice the price in an upmarket butcher. Or its single-estate, Italian extra virgin olive oil, which invariably wins every competition going and retails for less than a fifth of the £20 it ought to cost. Or its fine wine selection, especially around Christmas, when you can pick up a very decent Puligny-Montrachet for a good tenner less than in Waitrose.

How can Aldi afford to do this? By keeping its product range short and sweet; by keeping its margins ultra-tight; by training its staff to behave differently from those ditzy girls in Lush. You wouldn’t call them rude, exactly. But they’re definitely brisk, processing your groceries with an alacrity which would appal those lovely, warm mumsy types and bright graduates up the road at Waitrose.

Shopping at Aldi takes a bit of getting used to, it’s true. At first, you might find yourself thinking: ‘So this is what it’s like to pick up your social security cheque.’ But though there’s definitely a bit of a wartime feel to the spartan atmosphere (not to mention in the presence of all those displaced refugees from Poland, Romania, etc; plus all those weird own-brand names you’ve never encountered before), there’s also a Blitz-spirit camaraderie and sense of purpose. You’re not there for the thrills or to linger in the aisles (let alone at the till, which you can’t because the bagging area has been made so small). You’re there to buy stuff you need, very cheap, and get out as quickly as possible.

Read the rest – where I show how almost everything in the world can be divided into whether it’s Lush or Aldi – here at The Spectator.

Eddie Redmayne, the Oscars and why Eton is a four-letter word

Redmayne-Oscar_Reuters-640x480

There are many reasons to celebrate Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar last night – from his charming and refreshingly brief acceptance speech to the fact that the award didn’t go to Benedict “This is what a feminist looks like” Cumberbatch – is the wailing and consternation and gnashing of teeth it will cause among the chippy anti-public-school brigade, people who hate Eton (Redmayne’s alma mater) especially.

[US readers please note: when we say ‘public school’ in Britain, we are referring to ‘private schools’, not what you would call ‘public schools’ which we call ‘state schools’. Oh and we don’t know what you mean by ‘cilantro’ either. We call it ‘coriander’. Capisce?]

Eton College (Wikimedia)

As Redmayne’s fellow Old Etonian (OEs, as they are known), Damian Lewis, once quipped: “Eton is a four-letter word.” And he’s absolutely right, for a lot of people it is. They see the penguin uniforms (black tail coats; waistcoats; stiff white collars) and they see the products (which currently include the Prime Minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Mayor of London and the second in line to the throne, Prince William) and they’re filled with uncontrollable jealousy and rage and hatred which they try to dignify by couching it as an honest aversion to “elitism” and “unearned privilege” and “a sense of entitlement”.

True, Old Etonians can be irritating, as for example Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby reminded us recently with his lame-arsed attacks on capitalism and his feeble handwringing response to ISIS’s murder of those unfortunate Coptic Christians.

But if you’re going to blame an Eton education for Justin Welby (and David Cameron, Earl Spencer, the Hon Sir Jonathan Porritt, Oliver Letwin, etc) then how do you explain John Prescott, Dale Vince, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, and Jeffrey Dahmer – not one of whom, so far as I’m aware, is entitled to wear the black and turquoise striped OE tie?

hugh-laurie-reuters

No, the real reason people hate Eton is that its products are so spectacularly successful. In the world of acting, for example, besides Redmayne and Lewis, they include Tom Hiddleston, Harry Lloyd, Dominic West and Hugh “House” Laurie. And the reason they’ve succeeded – against the odds: the entertainment industry, like most industries these days is riddled with anti-‘elitist’ prejudice – is because they have benefited from the kind of classic, rigorous, old school, liberal arts education which the left has sought for so long to destroy.

Sure it probably helps having high cheek-bones, good breeding, and a natural affinity with the Queen’s English. But there are lots of boys from poorer backgrounds on bursaries at Eton too and these go on to perform at least as well in the outside world as the scions of the English upper classes.

Former student Tom Hiddleston (Reuters)

That’s because among the life skills Eton continues unapologetically to instill in its boys, in return for its annual fees (circa £30,000 pa) are: self-discipline; independence of mind (despite its traditionalist air, Eton is run more like a libertarian experiment: there are no official bed times, for example, and you do your homework when you want to do rather than when you are told to do); impeccable manners; extreme competitiveness; well-roundedness (they don’t care what you do, whether it’s beagling, DJ-ing, calligraphy, gaming, rowing, or drama, just so long as you cultivate interests beyond the school curriculum); humility (yes, really: most Etonians I’ve met are hugely grateful for the privilege of their education, which they are encouraged to repay through schemes like the one where they ‘mentor’ state school pupils); wit (banter, is, of course, very important and on a very high level at Eton); and the ability to mask the immense ambition most of them have with that quality known as “Etonian charm.”

Read the rest at Breitbart London