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Wonders will never cease

In these modern 2st Century days, in which someone like Donald Trump can not only become a candidate for the post of US President but actually gets himself elected, I guess there should be nothing that surprises anyone.

Given my long-held cynicism towards those who are attracted to and/or inhabit the world of politics and the Establishment generally, I suppose I ought to be offended if Rust readers felt I wasn’t offended by the latent ‘do as I say, not as I do’ cant and indeed stupidity of so many in public life, as gets exposed from time to time. The examples, infinitely numerous and varied, come so fast and often that if you blink you tend to miss some of them.

Take the surreal concept of ‘fake news’, sometimes attributed to President Trump but probably not invented by him because it’s doubtful whether he’d have the intellectual capacity to come up with it.

As utilised by Mr Trump, it is a catch-all term, originally devised to undermine the status of any item of media news or reporting that is unfavourable to him.

Meanwhile, of course, in an ‘active’ sense, Mr Trump himself has no issue with ‘inventing’ media stories of his own and putting them out there – either via his own interviews, his press officers’ briefings to the US press corps or indeed his habitual ‘first thing in the morning’ tweeting.

This he does seemingly on the basis that his personal subjective view is the only authorised bell weather of what is ‘fake news’, viz. supposedly invented stories without any supporting evidence or indeed truth behind them [in other words, anything critical of him or his presidency], and what is not – the latter being a category consisting of (in President Trump’s eyes) every story ever invented by himself which also has no supporting evidence or indeed truth behind it but is just as valid and important as any other form of news because he believes in it and therefore so should the American public.

These days the world has long left behind any puzzlement or outrage at anything put out by Trump’s White House because it has been so consistently whacky and surreal that you could employ 20 comedy scriptwriters – as American television producers often tend to do – and never come up with anything as weird.

It’s almost reached the stage where – in real life – if a drama project (serious or comedy) was being pitched to a major television or movie studio based upon no more than what had actually happened in the White House since January 2017, those considering it would have said no (and shown the originators of the project the door) because it just wasn’t believable enough inside five minutes maximum.

However, examples of political and Establishment stupidity are not the exclusive preserve of America.

Not by a long chalk.

A relatively minor example has occurred recently in the UK which may have escaped the attention of Rust readers.

Let me explain for the benefit of those unfortunates.

Earlier this week it was announced that Toby Young – right-leaning Tory journalist, writer, columnist, political pundit, and most recently best known for his championing of the ‘free schools’ movement – had been appointed to the Government’s new universities regulator.

Inevitably – not that I was taking much notice myself – it was only to be expected that those same lefties in both the Labour party and/or teaching profession (not least its unions) would gleefully open the doors of their secret missile silos to wheel out their ancient but well-used payloads and aim them at both Mr Young and the Government. The former on principle just because he is Mr Young and the latter because surely the Maybot and her comrades couldn’t be as stupid and insensitive as to give the much—maligned  Mr Young a position of some authority over universities after he achieved an effect upon the UK’s secondary school system almost (but not quite) as detrimental as Mrs May’s proposed reintroduction of grammar schools via his pet ‘free schools’ project.

Nothing particularly remarkable so far, you might think.

Just traditional Tory right-wing ‘1950s, cucumber sandwich teas, cricket on a village green, warm beer and traditional school teaching is best’ dogma being peddled by the Government … whilst the usual ragged band of ‘lentil-chomping, sandal-wearing Trots who have taken refuge in the comprehensive school system precisely because it allows them to conceal not only their teaching and management incompetence but also their aversion to hard work’ lines up to throw derision and manure in their direction for supposedly wrecking the country’s educational structure.

But hang on a minute.

It soon becomes apparent that Toby Young partakes of social media and has a Twitter account. And on his Twitter account – over the past ten or fifteen years [does anyone out there know how long ago Twitter was invented?] – he has been in the habit of tapping out and publishing hundreds if not thousands of supposedly witty and/or biting quips and comments on all sorts of subjects which definitely qualify as PC-incorrect, misogynistic, sexist and downright offensive.

Is this the sort of cove that the Government – let alone anyone – would want to have serving on their universities regulator?

Well obviously not. Apart from anything else, it leaves everyone opposed to the Government, and its policies on anything, with a Grade A-sized ‘open goal’ in front of which even the most uncoordinated of penalty-takers could not fail to score.

See here for a link to a piece by political correspondent Ashley Cowburn on the latest developments, as appears today upon the website of – THE INDEPENDENT

My only comment in concluding is this.

You’d think – wouldn’t you? – that any Government, any civil service – for Gawd’s sake, any owner of a sweetshop in a rural village 300 miles away in the Cotswolds or similar – would have had the basic intelligence and bog-standard common sense to check the CV and background of any person being put forward for a role on an important committee or body before appointing him.

Not so our brilliant and wonderful Government. Not so our supposedly oh-so-admired Establishment.

It almost beggars belief that Mr Toby Young himself didn’t have the gumption or sense to think back over his life and career and wonder whether there was anything in his past which made him potentially vulnerable to opprobrium at all, never mind on a national scale, before allowing his name to go forward or this position, let alone accept it when offered.

Still, that’s UK politics and the British Establishment for you, I suppose …



About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts