There is no naivety greater than profound cynicism
Having texted a media chum last Sunday to congratulate him on sticking to his principles over the paedophilia scandals, he forwarded it to his editor. Back came a one-word reply from his boss:
We’re not talking tabloid here, by the way. Sending out an email this morning to what I imagined to be some Fourth Estate great and good (asking for help in rendering Lord McAlpine charitable) a former mentor I haven’t spoken to in months replied thus:
‘You become more of a twat by the day.’
Now it is of course perfectly possible that I am a twat. I’ve been called far worse – and would be more often if the word concerned wasn’t so un-pc these days – but so far I am the only pro-am journalist to have called out Lord McAlpine about his second-cousin Jimmie McAlpine. The mainstream won’t go near the topic. I am also the only site I’m aware of that has calmly and without libel named the folks who (whether they’re aware of it or not) may be in Tom Watson’s sights, allegedly.
However, what both these old dried-up, oddly purist cynics are trying to say is “Why are you such a starry-eyed pillock at the age of 64?” I’d imagine the same braindead question drove the respondent who enquired:
“What on Earth do you expect?”
My reply to such smart-arsed, laconically delivered condescension has been honed down over the years to two words: “Something better”. As a famous adman once remarked, “If you don’t aim for the stars, your ass will always be in the sewer”. Never were truer words uttered. Well, not in my experience anyway.
The fact that their shallow cynicism is the very thing that has brought the UK media set to its present state of spineless State collaboration bounces off the bigot’s noddle every time. Massively implicated in the process of reducing Britain to an ethical hard-core rubble, these ‘old pros’ are almost as dysfunctional as the naive ordinary citizens who still cling to their tribal beliefs in the Goodness of, funnily enough, their tribe.
This latter public have the naivety/cynicism thing too, but the other way round. Rather than being naively cynical, they are cynically naive: “My God is a nice God with no faults, and I will defend your attempt to suggest faults by defending My God against your wicked/money-mad/conspiratorial/paranoid/deluded/muddled/fluffy/open-toed craven idols 24/7, so there, and yah boo sucks”. It enables this tendency to defend the completely indefensible – from bad-science pc behaviourism to flagrant unearned privilege – with 100% alacrity and 0% introspection….with ruthless venom and without guilt.
I don’t think I have ever seen this syndrome in a more perplexing form than has been evident throughout the Savile-paedophile-McAlpine saga. Its three main features among the media and the right-to-left public respectively are:
1. Our readers are only interested in celebs, so let’s seek out more pervy celebs;
2. The way the media have behaved is disgraceful and they should be regulated like everyone else to stop defamation of harmless old codgers like Lord McAlpine; and
3. This is all a carefully orchestrated plot by the Tory Scum, the security services, the Jews, and their other rich pals to subjugate the poor workers and Hands off our NHS.
Now I realise I am caricaturing here…but not by much. All three of these extrapolations are simplistic in the extreme, but they are all being punted by the tribes involved. To take each of them in turn:
1. Focusing on celebs allows the mass of abusers to heave a sigh of relief, and continue hiding behind their job functions and/or claimed homosexuality.
2. Frightening the press is how Savile got away with it over five decades – so why allow Lord McAlpine to do that? Press regulation plus elected PCCs potentially delivers a deadly combo of government toadies and politicised police – so why sit back and watch it happen? Lord McAlpine was hugely successful in business, and became the donation-attracting machine behind Thatcherism – so why suddenly now be gullible about his protestations of being a doddery old philanthrope with a dicky heart? (He had a bypass a decade ago: it was successful).
3. Controlling pols and media manipulators do not conspire to make more trouble for themselves. The Savile scandal was exploited by Newscorp as a club with which to hit the BBC, but now most Westminster sources I have display the same emotion: anxiety about where all this might end. The Labour Party is working just as hard as the Tories and MI5 to close off all the exits…because they, like everyone else, don’t really know who’s guilty and who isn’t. Tom Watson is a fine man and an honourable exception; but he too is tribal – as he displayed time and time again during Hackgate.
Just as I find myself dismayed by Tom’s willingness to ignore the reporting transgressions of Trinity Mirror, I find myself perpetually staggered at the low-life Boris Johnson is happy to defend…and the number of otherwise intelligent people who adore him as “a straight bloke, one of us, finger on the pulse, tells it like it is” sort of chap. It’s so obviously complete cock, my nape hairs stand on end when I hear such drivel.
Sadly, what we (or rather I – clearly I was massively outnumbered on the McAlpine Help a London Child stunt yesterday) can see here is yet more of those entirely foreseeable unforeseeable consequences. A more frightened media-pack engaged in distraction rather than investigation; an institutional paedophile ring that remains unbroken; interviewers scared to put senior pols on the spot; greater regulation of the blogosphere…with less and less Net Neutrality; more and more braindead celebrity focus at the expense of more significant matters; the existing Party machines cemented more firmly into place – and kept there through a mixture of GCHQ, security services and police support; and above all, even less accountability among our key professions than we have already.
Some of the ‘arguments’ used in yesterday’s comment threads -and throughout the disgraceful pillorying of the BBC and ITV’s Philip Schofield – beggared belief. I hate Lord McAlpine because I have a chip on my shoulder. Schofield should have been fired. The BBC should be dismantled. Jimmie McAlpine is irrelevant. There are no facts on display, only innuendo. And the best of the lot, Lord McAlpine’s name has been besmirched, but he has no reason to clear his name because he is innocent, but it is quite right that he should sue the BBC for ruining his reputation. A logician’s nightmare.
Later yesterday, I posted a piece about medical malpractice, and the 30-year battle of a Welsh couple to get a negligent consultant brought to the public’s attention. It took Lord McAlpine exactly 36 hours to achieve that result in full, and a further four days to trouser six-figure damages…with lots more loot to come. Anyone who thinks the Peer achieved that through his own efforts and without help must be a complete idiot.
Earlier, I posted that six abuse victims had wound up with nothing after twelve years thanks to unethical insurance practice, whereas McAlpine got £185,000 all to himself in four days. This too was dismissed as ‘irrelevant’.
Hear and See no Evil. Just support it without question.
I do realise there are times when The Slog sounds like a mantra-loop, but the acute Alzheimer’s condition and insight-bypass displayed by so many in our country makes it necessary:
1. Ignore what public figures say, and instead monitor what they do and how they behave.
2. Without equality before the law, there is no civilisation worth having.
3. Indulgence of, and bullying by, the rich and powerful makes any such equality impossible.
4. Culture is everything: if your viewpoint, organisation, model, business, Party or pressure group cannot stand up to close examination on ethical, moral and motivational bases, then it is adding to the development of a pernicious culture.
This last item above is where I leave it today. If anyone wants to tell me that Britain’s political Parties, legal profession, care home system, media spectrum, police forces, bankers and Whitehall Mandarins can survive such an examination and be cleared, then either you or I do not inhabit Planet Britannia.
Now there is also a place called Planet Slog. It too has a culture. I am constantly harassed, insulted, trolled and hate-tweeted for having created it, and that’s life: it goes with the territory. But it is what it is. If you don’t like it, then go somewhere else like Conservative Home or Guido Fawkes or Left Foot Forward where your certainties can be stroked.
But if (as seems quite likely based on the last three months) you want to come here and sabotage both the comment thread quality and the culture, do not expect your commenting rights to be tolerated for much longer.
This is the fifth time in eighteen months I’ve had to say this. I never wanted a comment thread at The Slog in the first place, because I know how time-consuming they are to manage. Allowing a prominent email address for comments was always my preferred option; but everyone kept telling me I had to have threads, so I relented.
I have gradually attracted an audience producing a comment thread of much higher quality and intelligence than most sites. Indeed, for many Sloggers it is the prime reason they keep coming back. Those who ruin it with running spats, childish insults and blind assertion have been given a long leash over time. It is about to be tightened.
For those who think this just another form of fascism quelling dissent, let me reiterate a point made many times before here. Anyone – and I mean anyone – coming to The Slog with good intentions, a clean mouth, an open mind and established facts that contest the arguments being made will always get a hearing – and be able to enjoy the debate in full. Wreckers won’t.
Last week, some seemingly obscure bloke popped up and began demanding all sorts of information, insisting he couldn’t find stuff, asking for back up on various issues, and generally wasting my time by appearing to be both dense and lazy. He was neither. He was a pro-am troll, and their presence is spreading. It started in the US, and now it’s here: the meanies who have thirty IP addresses, no followers, and email addresses that turn out to be fake. The guys with clear agendas and persistent negativity, whose links to seemingly considered rebuttal either lead nowhere – or to articles that contain nothing supporting their claims.
The Dark Arts are in play everywhere today, in every medium. Genuinely bonkers, bigoted and fluffy threaders are on the whole harmless. But trolls swarms are none of these things. The Aims of this blog are outlined at the page of that name. But overall, they are pretty easy to define. As I wrote to one correspondent last night:
‘Actually, what I’m really doing is trying to put together a loose team of bright and like-minded decent folks with a sense of humour and genuine writing/analysis ability. It’s the only way we’ll stop Them. The MSM have given up, and the public is sort of absent in a half-pissed, X-factor kind of way.’
I’d stand by that in most circumstances, I think. As for the media cynics, I’ve no control over them. They pander to the lowest common denominator, and them moan about how low the denominator is.
They fly into a rage at the very idea of press regulation, and then pop out to scream through the next celebrity’s door furniture “It’ll be better for you if you talk to us”. That puts me in mind of McAlpine’s lawyer bloke last Thursday: “It’ll be better if you settle with us now”. Both the tabloid hacks and the greedy legals are mindless bullies. They deserve each other, and with luck might yet deliver us into a nirvana of mutually assured destruction.
But in the meantime, there will be thousands of generally reliable websites, with The Slog trying to be part of that milieu. Bigots and trolls coming to poke at it will be neutralised. Authorities and lawyers trying to silence it can expect a bloody, bare-knuckle fight.