FROM THE ARCHIVES: A top-to-bottom critique of contemporary political thought

In the light of continuing controversy about Michael Gove’s education reforms, I thought this piece from November last year might be appropriate. Its point was that topline reporting very rarely if ever gets to the bottom of things. And the bottom line is ‘Simple clarity will always be Top of the Pops’.

November 22, 2012 · 9:31 am

Why the topline should always be the bottom line.

As long as the people in charge are incompetent crooks, jargobollocks will always be with us

I had a depressing start to the day. Outside it was grey, windy, and threatening to be wet. I drank too much wine last night talking on Skype to an unusually engaging person. I groped about for the TV zapper and turned on BBCNews. Once  again, it was sofa time.

I think morning-news sofas are done to death now. OK guys, we get the message: it’s jolly informal, gender-neutral and family-friendly. But enough with the sofas already. I think the newsreaders of a morning should have bad hair, look bleary-eyed, yawn a lot, and do the news from bed. Each interviewee could then join the bed to create a ménage à trois, and we could have wild accusations in the blogosphere about what was going on under the duvet. Tracy Emin could remake the bed every morning.

Or they should be in the shower, on the loo, cleaning their teeth, struggling to get their socks on – whatever. It’d be far more entertaining than the news. Anything would be more interesting than the two Charlies they had on this morning: a  teacher and a mum, talking about discipline in schools.

The teacher was Central Casting Grade 1 NUTpc. He had, he told the boy-girl item on the sofa, plenty of strategies in his toolbox for dealing with difficult kids, plenty of action pathways and issue-oriented options. Harsh outbursts were inappropruiate: he never used them because they never worked.

Never? Not even once? Not even if the last strategy in the toolbox is a nail-ended club? And if he never used them, how did he know they never worked? Here was yet another ‘teacher’ who had taken a course in Abuse of English.

Mum was the expected exception: specially chosen because she believed that teachers know best, and stating firmly that they must be allowed to get on with their job. “What we have to remember,” she reminded us, “Is that this is the sharp end for teachers: they’re on the bottom line”.

Oh dear. I think I’ll go away to a darkened room and study the front line as delivered by the accountant yesterday. It’s not looking good: ballpoint analysis is, I’m broke.


Half-baked bollocks and lazy denial have taken over so completely now, it’s almost like some of us need a phrase-book to get through it all. According to Guardian jobs this morning, there is an exciting and high profile new world class open cast mining project in Devon. How did they check to back up the claim that it’s world class? If it means ‘better than cast-iron mining project in Antofagasta, Chile’ should we be impressed? Or should we simply vapourise the clown who has not yet grasped what an irritating joke that phrase is in 2012?

Nothing is ever clear any more: but once the sprained English comes into play, you know it’s tits-up. It means nobody knows what to do. Here’s a classic from this morning: “The Chinese economic recovery continues to gain momentum,” says HSBC’s Qu Hongbin. “However, it is still the early stage of recovery, and global economic growth remains fragile.” It’s a yes, or rather a qualified yes, but then again, perhaps a possible no.

This is in fact the hard line on why drivel is almost ubiquitous today: everything is too complex for anyone to understand, and so those ‘in charge’ have to hide their bafflement behind pseudo-scientific, uncertain malapropisms. I think we should draw a line in the hand on it, I really do. A line in the hand is, after all, worth two hands in a bush. No, hang on. I didn’t mean to say that at all.


What’s hugely noticeable is that, when people move out of the horsesh*t zone, their paucity of thought is immediately on display. ‘Hubristic purchasing – a penchant for overpaying’ the FT concludes today. It couldn’t really be any other way, could it? Bloomberg this morning says a ceasfire between Israel and Hamas would be more likely if arms sales were cut off. I can get behind that, in much the same way as I’m all for keeping the house dry with the use of a roof. Displaying a little more depth, the New York Times opines, ‘The temporary end to bombardment and violence is not enough to ensure peace in the region’. In the sense that nobody but the Jews wants Israel where it is, and the Israelis are unlikely to budge, this too is correct, but staggeringly inane.

So let me try a little clarity as a potential antidote here.

The eurozone is broke, and the euro a failure that should be put to sleep at the earliest opportunity. Debt forgiveness is the cheapest way out of the West’s contemporary fiscal crisis. Too many teachers are uninspiring and dull. We do not need mad investment banking practices, we need to have a safe place for our money, and to borrow sensibly now and then. Globalist mercantilism doesn’t work, and we need a return to the idea of national self-sufficiency accompanied by trade in surplus goods. UK export marketing is, on the whole risible. The British Council is a corrupt waste of space. Radical Islam is a violent, misogynist and ucompromising religion that must not be appeased. The French banking system is going to be blown down, and Francois Hollande is not the man of the hour. Prison doesn’t work, and we should switch to a serious investment in rehabilitation based on self esteem through retraining. Equality based on forced quotas and affirmative action is anti-meritocratic. Bankers who scam SMEs, manipulate Libor, and inflate their supposed assets should go to jail like any other fraudster. Neither Cameron nor Miliband are the leadership material Britain needs. None of the Westminster Parties work for us, they whore to privileged interest groups. Surveillance of the citizen is out of control and needs rolling back. Jeremy Hunt was biased over the Newscorp bid, and should’ve been fired. Selling the NHS to private business will put major health procedures beyond the means of around 80% of Britons. Establishment paedophilia exists and is being swept under the carpet. This nation’s mainstream media pack is a prissy, self-important disgrace.

There now. That’s better.

Earlier today in Realtime at The Slog: Coalition rearranges deckchairs on HMS Paedophilia