There was plenty not to like about Hawley Harvey Crippen. He was a snake-oil salesman for one. And a wife-murderer for second. Neither of these things is good. But when I read about him I have to admit the thing that most disquiets me about this ratty little man is the fact that after murdering Cora and chopping her up into small pieces, he wrapped her butchered remains in a pair of his own pyjamas and buried them in his cellar.
I mean – was that supposed to be enough? Not even someone else’s PJs? Not even a shallow grave on some waste ground ten yards down the road? He couldn’t even be bothered to put his shoes on and go outside? What is this? Did the same lack of empathy that enabled him to slaughter her, also allow him to sit there, fat dumb and happy in 39 Hilldrop Crescent, with his girlfriend decked in a dead woman’s jewellery, and not imagine for a moment anyone would get suspicious and maybe think of checking his basement?
Hubris-based incompetence makes any crime so much worse, because it conveys so perfectly the contempt the criminal-idiot feels for everyone who isn’t him. It tells us that, however much of a fool he is, he believes he’s cleverer than we are, and however ridiculous his lies might be he assumes we’re going to believe them. Because he is he, and an ubermensch, and we are we – the drones.
Which brings is to the Guardian. Most specifically to the Guardian’s coverage of the Labour leadership contest. Yes, it’s rightist, state-driven propaganda – that goes without saying. But that’s not my greatest problem with it. Like murder, propaganda can be done well or badly, intelligently or self-defeatingly. Clever propaganda disguises itself as something else. Bad propaganda is Crippen’s PJs.
My greatest problem with the Graun’s propaganda is that it’s bad, and yet thinks it isn’t. Even more so than the lamentable coverage of Russia and Ukraine, the Graun on Corbyn showcases nothing so much as its own decline in talent and IQ. Reading it is like watching a well-loved and respected auntie slowly succumb to dementia.
I woke this morning after a good night’s sleep to face a nagging question in my head. Did Jeremy Corbyn used to wear open-toed sandals around Westminster in hot weather?…If memory serves, he wore them with socks, white socks even….
Checking my emails from the warmth of my bed, I next found one from Pat and Dave, a charming couple I met through my old school in Cornwall. They reminded me that when I showed them around the House of Commons I introduced them to “a hardworking and pleasant MP, who is now the frontrunner to be Labour leader”. Guess who?
No, we haven’t even got to Isis yet (a different version of populist fundamentalism on offer)…
This, believe it or not, is Michael White – assistant editor and former political editor of the Guardian, writing on July 30 about the Labour leadership election.
Read it. Read the entire thing, and see if, in between the drivel about socks and sandals, the insanely offensive comparisons between Corbyn and ISIS, and the homey emails from Pat and Dave, you can find anything that is adult or intelligent – or literate – enough to be in the pages of a respected international newspaper.
Heads up – you won’t. It’s all just like the extracts quoted – rambling, alternately sniggering obscurely behind its hand, or just as obscurely fear-mongering, and all with the same leaden, lumpen prose. Superficial coherence giving way to a total lack of deeper narrative or sense. It’s hard to imagine the level of hubris and estrangement from the public mood that must lie behind the decision to compare the gentle Jeremy with ISIS, but White does so blithely. He aims (I think, it’s hard to tell) at impish wit combined with deeper political insights, fails entirely at all of it, but doesn’t seem to notice.
This bit sums up what seems like an attempt at the former:
Yes, I also know that Westminster-based pundits are supposed to be an unimaginative bunch of sheep who take dictation from the “establishment”, the “political elite” and other fantasies of fervid populist imaginations on both left and right. Diane Abbott MP has told us so.
Impressive only for his apparent belief that he – Michael – only needs to put the everyday words “establishment” and “political elite” in quotes in order to persuade his drone readers they simply do not and never could exist.
This is how stupid he thinks we are.
(sidebar: I wonder if he think he can do this with any commonplace noun? Does he think if he puts the words “cat litter” in sneery quotes we’re all going to say “oh yes absolutely, only silly old loony leftie Diane Abbot could ever believe in that”?)
Unsurprisingly – to everyone but White and Graun HQ – this piece did not go over at all. Even after the rigorous pruning that is normal now on CiF, the remaining comments make it clear how totally Michael misjudged and underestimated his audience. Here are a few examples from the first page alone…
But, like the Bourbons, it seems the Graun learns nothing from its own past. Despite all evidence that people are just not buying its Corbyn as Antichrist message, it just keeps on hawking the same old substandard agitprop.
At one point,having presumably lost their minds completely, they even wheeled out Tony “war criminal” Blair, whose wild-eyed demon visage and strange ranting about “heart transplants” and “comfort blankets” inexplicably failed to convince anyone of anything.
Bur don’t worry guys – Polly Toynbee has got this.
Veteran purveyor of spin, our Pol has been sent in to bat several times on the “Corbyn phenomenon”. Initially she thought wholesale denial was the best course.
I don’t believe that YouGov poll that puts Jeremy Corbyn in the lead…
But, presumably realising the limitations of such an approach she later changed her mind…
Nothing about Jeremy Corbyn’s surge suggests a blip
OK, yes, Jeremy is popular after all, but people still should not vote for him, says Polly. Why? Well – because he wants to make things better…
He has opened a floodgate of dreams, making people feel good about themselves. He is right about welfare, austerity, tax avoidance, renationalising rail and mail, Trident, housing and myriad other touchstones. He’s authentic to the tip of his beard..
But….? There is a ‘but’ isn’t there Polly?
Ah well, you see. It’s like this (pay attention):
The Labour question is always the same – how far can you go and still bring enough voters with you?… I don’t know how far you can go – but you have to win power to get anywhere at all. Once in power, with the levers of persuasion, you can take people further than you dare tread in opposition.
Let me translate for you. You see, it’s OK for the Tories to stand for things some people don’t like (e.g. austerity), because they’re always magically “electable” even when 76% of the electorate don’t vote for them. But if Labour stands for things that most people do like (e.g. anti-austerity) then they become “unelectable” even though 80% of the electorate actually agrees with them. So, Labour has to stand for things most people don’t want so that those same people will vote for them.
Oh and anyhow, the Guardian has conveniently suddenly discovered a poll that shows everyone in Britain does like austerity after all! This is a completely independent poll you understand, and not a weasel-worded bit of agitprop designed to undermine Corbyn’s apparent popularity and convince us all that people who want libraries, hospitals and schools are out-of-touch throwbacks.
Looking at this sorry collection, it’s easy to forget this is notionally the Guardian A-team in action. People such as Toynbee are being paid fairly large amounts of cash to try and shape our opinions and win our hearts and minds.
And this is the best they can do.
I guess when you have an oligarchy that rewards blind obedience and punishes non-conformity, scepticism and dissent, the collective IQ of the so-called “intelligentsia” plummets, and with it downward goes the ruling elite’s ability to respond rationally, to plan coherently, even to defend its own interests.
Western journalism was once personified by Ed Murrow or John Pilger. Now it’s Michael White wittering about sandals and socks, Polly Toynbee tying her prose in knots to try and convince us good is bad and slavery is freedom, or Shaun Walker, parking his plump rump on a barstool in Kiev, happily tapping out screeds of asinine Russophobic tripe, too much of a fool to know what a fool he is.
No wonder that fewer and fewer people have any trust in the mainstream news. Someone should tell that non-existent “political elite” they’re wasting their money.