Over the past few weeks, probably closer to months now, my posts to this organ have been rather thin on the ground – partly because admittedly I’ve had other things occupying my time and interest, but mainly because of a growing impression in my mind that could be filed under either ‘no need to’ or possibly alternatively ‘what’s the bloody point?’
Having signed on to act as a minor court jester with a brief to point out the stupidity, condescension, conceit, hypocrisy, and self-interest of the Establishment political class of all political hues/persuasions both at home and abroad, I had begun to conclude – even if the Rust’s editors had yet to – that my remit, if not my job, was becoming superfluous.
In short, such was the surreal, weird way in which current affairs and politics was being conducted generally around the globe – and whilst I’m not suggesting that the ascension of US President Trump to office was the final straw, it was certainly part of the haystack (if I’m not mixing my metaphors here) – that I began to sense there was practically nothing that capable of happening in the world of geo-politics anymore that would surprise me … or indeed, anyone else, in the slightest.
Which is actually quite a dangerous state of affairs for everyone living in complacent ‘First World’ Western democracies, when you think about it. You’ve only got to mention the words Trump, Facebook, ‘fake news’, Brexit, Putin and Boris in the same sentence to sum up the issue.
The Barbarians – or should I say Visigoths – are knocking at the gates of Rome … and we all know how that went in 410 AD, don’t we?
Which brings me to my recommended reading for today.
If memory serves, I first came across BBC political journalist Andrew Neil when, as editor of The Economist, he was enjoying minor success as a rent-a-quote pundit on television current affairs programmes about thirty years ago.
Today, I grant you, everyone knows Neil has a past which includes taking the Murdoch shilling on a number of occasions but personally I have allowed for that and accepted the impression he has given over the last decade that – when working for the BBC as one of its (if not the) heavyweight political interviewer/anchors – he had long since parked any political leanings at the door of Broadcasting House.
For the past number of years, particularly on shows like Daily Politics and Sunday Politics (before he gave the latter up) I was happy to accept at face value that he was dishing out his barbs – and tripping up ill-prepared automaton MPs with his admirable all-consuming aversion to evasion, cant and/or carefully-programmed politico-speak spewed by the yard – to all those brave enough to enter his studio lair, irrespective of who they were or which party they represented.
Like some others who contribute to the Rust and are interested in politics, I take the view that – since the BBC tends to takes constant ‘incoming’ from those at both ends of the political spectrum – it is actually doing a half-decent job of trying to be impartial (as it is required to be).
I’d add here the caveat that inevitably those of a broadly non-Left persuasion may regard the likes of Andrew Neil as lone wolves of sanity amidst a forest-ful of BBC pro-Left politically-correct bias … whilst, of course, the converse may also co-exist, i.e. those of an opposite viewpoint may well hold the view that much of the BBC’s output is either ‘perfectly normal, accurate and fair’ if not (at its extreme) actually fuelled by right wing bias.
In short, and I don’t think I’m revealing any personal political bias here because – for good or ill – in my sixty-six years on the Earth so far I have yet to vote for any political party in any election … I have always wished a plague on the lot of ‘em … but I am rather a fan of Andrew Neil for what I see as his lack of political bias in his anchor/presenter role.
Which is why I was interested to spot this rather different and well-written opinion piece by Labour-supporting journalist Owen Jones today on the website of – THE GUARDIAN