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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Nick Booth remembered

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SOME of you will recall that we promised to repeat a number of Nick Booth’s blogs to commemorate him and his unique talent after his death in September at the age of 62, so from today until Christmas that is what we are doing. It has been a challenge to select them – they are all so clever, original and witty. He had a light, quirky satire that was all his own – a way of looking at the world that pointed up not only the sheer idiocy of wokedom (he was amongst the first to nail this cultural and intellectual collapse) but the pathos in it. He had the writing eye of a cartoonist but unlike many cartoonists Nick was never unkind and only rarely angry – when he had much to make him angry. He saw humanity in everything. 

He was and will always be very special to TCW not least because apart from Laura and myself he was TCW‘s most loyal and longest-serving writer. It was December 2014, only a few months after our launch, when he first approached me with an article about the BBC. I remember how excited I was that someone who worked for mainstream media (he was a specialist tech writer) first of all knew about us and second, didn’t demonise us as right-wing dinosaurs! He was on our wavelength! All in all, until a week before his death, he wrote 263 articles for us – you can find his whole catalogue here. 

To my distress I cannot find our original email exchanges: the first I have is dated a year later in December 2015. I have some happy memories though to share with you, among them a party at my house – he left his jumper behind and cycled back (yes, he was fit!) for it the next morning when, over a coffee, he told me he wasn’t used to posh people like me (which was funny because, Rotherham born and bred, I never think of myself as that). Then there was a National Theatre trip together – he was so much younger than me and separated from his wife so I had the temerity to ask him out! Then there was the most wonderful party at Margaret and Alan’s cottage in Lancashire – a whole group of us met up at Euston for the day trip. It was a rather liquid journey back and one other nameless (for his sake) and Nick took rather a long time to extricate themselves from the train! They had a very good journey!

Nick was a firm favourite of both Margaret and mine. We both visited him at different stages of his illness. He was in a very bad way when I went to see him after a horrible operation in Croydon’s Mayday hospital (which has to be the worst labyrinth of a hospital in London to find your way around). He called it the May Die and on my second visit to see him, given the indifference to his multiplicity of problems, I thought he might well. He didn’t like me making a fuss though. My next visit was to Purley where he had taken up residence with his sister. He lived to fight a surprising number more years and oh boy, did he fight against the odds. He finally got treated at the Marsden, where I also saw him – goodness, what a contrast it was and how all might have been a bit different if that had been his first port of call – but even they discharged him far too soon. He needed really good post-operative care and never really got it at any stage. How he survived so long I honestly don’t know. Maybe because he didn’t give up work as a writer. And, instead of getting angry he began writing about the NHS as he observed and experienced it – about its modern hostile culture to its ‘clients’ that individual nurses (in particular) sometimes bravely broke through. He always mentioned them with such warmth and appreciation. 

The next time we met up was post lockdown in Richmond Park and though he was bent with pain we managed a walk and a coffee. Never was there such a determined man when all the NHS could do was give him bad news – ‘your end is nigh’ stuff – in the most callous of ways, as he recorded in one of his articles. Well he defied them for five years until this summer. He emailed Margaret and me to tell us they could give him no more treatment and his time was limited. No complaints. No tears. There was one plus for him in those weeks: he got rid of some of the side effects of the chemo, like the numb fingers that made it so difficult for him to write, the one thing he continued to want to do. I am so glad that both of us got to see him before he died. He was still at home when I went and I was able to take him down to the Thames riverside for a tea for him and a coffee for me. He was determined to walk from where we parked the car in Kingston. He was so alive. By the time Margaret saw him he was already in the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, but still exactly the same Nick, she said, and they were able to discuss plans for his blogs and a book compilation which I have no doubt was important to him. I was due to visit again the day he died.

So this is for Nick’s memory – we miss him and will never forget him. This is the first article he sent me, published on December 26, 2014.  Thank you, Nick.

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The BBC’s leftist bias is endemic and risible. It is also counterproductive

So, you think the BBC is biased? Fantastic, isn’t it? Does your blood boil when the prejudices of some left-wing think-tank are reported as independent research? Good. Do you howl with rage when the same news-readers give a health warning to any research that Alastair Campbell wouldn’t approve? I’m glad to hear it. It may be painful now, but in the long run this BBC bias can only be good for the country.

As they say on TV, we’ll come back to that story later. But first, we should worry about the long-term future of the BBC. I don’t want the BBC to die. Yes, it’s been totally possessed. We should hate the ghouls that have taken over its body and are making it say all kinds of unreasonable things. But do we want Auntie Beeb to die in the exorcism?

Countless members of the cult that ruined the BBC are now confessing that they think things have gone too far. Having summoned broadcasting’s version of Beelzebub into the body of our national treasure, they seem to be getting nervous at the way things are going. Perhaps they can sense that the Beeb is destroying itself.

When Helen Boaden, the BBC’s former director of news, said her staff never took campaign groups like Migration Watch seriously, she wasn’t gloating. I think it was a cry for help. Similar testaments of left-wing bias have been made by scriptwriter Antony Jay, former North America editor Justin Webb, former correspondent Robin Aitken and veteran anchorman Peter Sissons.

Former Labour Party member Rod Liddle was one of the first to spot that the project was going wrong. It’s gone beyond left-wing bias into ‘a sort of mimsy faux liberalism based on the economics of self interest,’ testified the former editor of the Today programme.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this ‘mimsiness’ was confined to news and current affairs. But in every form of light entertainment – from Casualty to comedy – it all seems to have gone a bit Kim Jong.

All sense of proportion seems to have been lost. Soap operas such as EastEnders and Casualty have an implicit anti-capitalist message, where all the most odious characters are from the private sector. When the Radio Times describes the plot lines for a BBC show, the word ‘businessman’ is used as shorthand for a mean-spirited, selfish, shallow, borderline sociopath. The BBC doesn’t seem to follow its own diversity agenda because the businessman is inevitably a Home Counties middle-aged white man.

Man-made disasters on BBC dramas are invariably the work of ‘a right-wing terror group’. The comedy on the BBC is even more depressing. There are endless comedy quiz shows, but they all seem to employ the same ‘comics’ with the same narrow world view. So limited are their horizons that 95 per cent of each comedy show is a rant about the Daily Mail, a newspaper that only around three per cent of the population buys.

But the Daily Mail need not worry and neither should we worry about left wing bias. The marketing director of Associated Newspapers should be delighted with all the free mentions his papers get on prime-time TV and radio. You cannot buy that sort of publicity. If Russell Howard says he hates a Daily Mail story, that’ll make millions think about buying the paper and even more to view it online.

Similarly, whenever Medhi Hasan is allowed one of his unopposed rants on Question Time, his demeanour makes half the viewers wonder how they can oppose this fiend. Hasan probably does more to mobilise voters to the right than David Cameron and Nigel Farage.

The thing about one-sided arguments is that people instinctively side with the victim. Pantomimes use this social dynamic to whip up crowd sympathy for the hero, by denying them their voice and letting them being dominated by bullying buffoons. (Oh yes they do). In the age of pantomime politics, we the audience can see through risible, shouty, protagonists like Owen Jones, Russell Brand and Penny Dreadful. In fact, we’re pretty insulted by them.

You can make anyone seem sympathetic if you bully them. The constant hectoring of conservatives only wins them approval, I would argue. We audience members aren’t that stupid that we can’t see through these tactics after over a decade. Big Lies only have a limited shelf life.

The tactic of loading every Question Time audience, skewing every debate and turning our viewing pleasure into a propaganda opportunity is backfiring now. Arguably, the BBC’s decades-long bias has become counter-productive. Its prejudice is now so widely recognised that nobody takes it seriously any more. Which is a shame, because I personally don’t want this uniquely funded institution to be ruined. I fear the eventual backlash against the BBC might be damaging. Call me sentimental, but I’m not sure I want the licence fee scrapped and our broadcasting heritage destroyed. It would be nice if it wasn’t possessed, but I hope the exorcism can be done without killing the patient.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngellhttps://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/the-editors/
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @KathyConWom on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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