The Thunderer no longer thunders. It outrages instead. In fact, it’s become a veritable organ for the intolerant culture of complaint and identity politics.
Tuesday’s comment section was a case in point. First up was Daniel Finklestein opining on why the Tories should embrace the Human Rights Act to keep them onside with the votes of the victim classes.
Next came Matthew Parris complaining (on his own behalf) from a Tower of Babel of his own making that when he is not being called transphobic, he’s accused of being biphobic. It’s terrible, he can’t win; but if he’s stuck with being politically incorrect he might as well hurl a gratuitous insult or two of his own – at a much safer target. British Whites, from his personal observation of tube transport manners, are the worst behaved. Of course they are! those nasty, dyed in the wool, bigoted, ‘Clacton Whites’. You can see where he is going. These are the recalcitrant whites the Tories should turn their back on.
A good excuse too, to throw down a gauntlet to those ‘Ukippy types’ Parris so clearly loathes, hoping they’ll brand him a race traitor to paint them as extremists! It won’t wash Matthew. Any one bothered enough to plough through your piffle of prejudice could only brand you as one thing according to your terms – as a casual racist.
Next up on this platform of contradictory and competing identities we find Alice Thomson with her confused feminist agenda. Women in Britain may have tipped the equality scales; T May, N Sturgeon, R Davidson, K Dugdale, Leanne Wood and Arlene Foster all may have ascended the political peaks and have Laura Kuenssberg to report their every stage of progress. But despite this, despite even the great Obama applauding the great gender balance of Mrs May’s team, the gender equality revolution, according to Alice, is still unfinished. It always is, as every good communist knows.
Yes, there are still terrible barriers to inequality.
Curiously Alice is not referring to the repression of Muslim women in the UK, but to those far greater concerns of the (non existent) pay gap, chauvinism ( defined no doubt by the inane but tenacious Laura Bates) and glass ceilings (ones that most women have no intention of breaking, however many hammers they are handed) and, finally, how to share childcare between working couples.
Nor must I omit the actual Thunderer column itself from this list. The ‘liberal’ journalist and commentator Ian Birrell embarked the outrage train at this stop. Not content with excoriating the benighted Tory MP Anne Marie Morris for her ‘n’ word felony, he went on to denounce anyone else foolish enough to use the ‘m’ word. Dare ye not use the words moron or moronic again – whatever the context.
Given such a daily onslaught, perhaps it was only a matter of time before the once cheerfully irreverent Matt Chorley of Times Red Box fame would succumb to the pressure.
‘I can’t quite believe I am writing this,’ he exclaimed, ‘but the Conservative MP for Newton Abbot for seven years has been suspended for speaking at an event for using the N-word.’
For a brief and happy moment, I thought he might be taking on her suspension and ridiculing this so-called ‘racism in the Tory woodpile’. I was wrong. I guess he had no choice. All over with shock, horror, in the next line he was asking incredulously, how could she have? Especially when she had ‘to go out of her way to use it’! ‘It’ being the dreaded ’N-word’ the use of which we all know is a crime more heinous than murder, child neglect or arson.
Could it have just slipped out? Well versed no doubt from school days as to what is allowed and what is not for fear of causing ‘offence’ he’d know that was no excuse anyway. For Matt (now sanctimony is my middle name) Chorley, Anne Marie Morris’s ‘classic non-apology for ‘any offence caused’’ was simply not good enough. Suspended, was she? That all? She ‘should be fired out of a cannon’, no less.
Hang on Matt – that could constitute a hate crime surely. The said MP could certainly choose to take it that way.
I began to wonder whether Matt was ever taught what an etymological fallacy is. A pity The Times didn’t provide him or Ian Birrell, for that matter, with a copy of Fowler’s Modern English Usage.
They both need a lesson in changing meanings. Matt would do well to learn this if he hopes still to make a career of irreverence, not witch-hunting.
Nor was politically correct Mrs May spared the Chorley censor, so keen he appeared to please his mentors at The Times. It took her all of three hours to condemn her wayward ‘racist’ MP. That long? and then only with a meaningless suspension? This was the PM ‘who stood on the steps of Downing Street exactly a year ago and spoke of the burning injustices of black people being treated harshly by the criminal justice system’. It was not ‘a good look’ the severe Mr Chorley concluded.
Mrs May must be praying that Robbie Gibb is up to speed with his English usage. Even a BBC man can’t be too careful these days with his phraseology,even though it may have totally lost touch with its original derivation.
As for young Matt, he might note that he who is without sin casts the first stone and all that. If I were him I’d be checking back through my copy to redact any mention of the word ‘nitty gritty’. That’s another no no N-word too. Use that and The Times might have to suspend him.
(Image: Alisdaire Hickson)