It’s always worth reading David Aaronovitch’s editorials in the Times on Tuesdays because as a leading ‘client journalist’ and sycophant for New Labour his pieces reveal the current state of the government’s mindset.
And the mindset is whiny and defensive, to say the least. Yesterday’s column was so extraordinary that I undertook the unusual and onerous task of reading it a second time just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
The first three-quarters was a rambling, sophistic defence of the socialist surveillance state (with a picture of Hitler and Himmler for good measure. Caption: ‘we should defend democracy because the alternative is far worse’ – nice, simple, false dichotomy schoolbook socialism). The fact that we are being spied on at almost all times when we are in public is nothing to worry about, Dave reckons. People blather on about how this vast system of bureaucracy and monitoring could well be used by an unscrupulous government for nefarious purposes (I would have said it already is, but that is another story) BUT, says Dave, that’s bollo because bad governments are bad governments and behave badly, regardless of CCTV cameras, databases, ID cards.
The fact that first and ancient principles are ignored here was expected – it’s the people who own government, not the government who own people (socialists can never get their heads round this one, even when they’re shooting their mouths of about social democracy and people power), therefore the absolute minimum of cataloging is a natural defence of liberty. What I didn’t expect was the last quarter of the column, where Dave suddenly – rashly, in my view – listed what he sees at the achievement of Labour in power. Now, don’t laugh:
‘But what about. . .what went right? The new schools. The defeat of bullying. The new hospitals. The waiting list reductions. The expansion of nursery education and parental rights. The city regeneration. The Right to Roam.’
Er, and that’s it. Rather a measly list. The new schools? What, the ones where skunk and knives are rife, where the police bounce the gates at 3.15 and local paper reports a knife arch being invested in? The defeat of bullying?
That isn’t what I see in the streets and on the buses round here, quite the reverse. Trendy teaching methods are the royal road to more sociopaths, not less. I’ve seen this with my own eyes. Parental rights? I think that translates as the screaming chav who comes up and berates the school for mildly reproaching her little darling for being a bully (sorry, they don’t exist anymore). The city regeneration? What like the sixty million quid The Public, a postmodern public arts space which closed because of a total lack of interest from the public and a ridiculous and impracticable design?
What Dave should do every week is talk about Iraq and Afghanistan, the two ‘progressive’ wars he and his buddy Tony were so hot on. You rarely hear him, or Christopher “windbag” Hitchens on these subjects these days; and we all know why.
Dave also says we shouldn’t get ‘impatient’ with foreign workers or immigrants. How very Mandelson (I would imagine they were muckers at Weekend World in the 70s). Just think how righteously angry the young Dave Aaronovitch (who repeatedly yelled “Trotsky” on University Challenge) would be with a lardy, well-heeled Times journalist with a big house and lots of moolah telling the indigenous poor and unemployed to stop moaning about how difficult a long-term government policy has made their lives and how high it’s made their rents and how small it’s made their wage packets. Heavens, what an Establishment prig, he would have cried. The young Aaronovitch would have identified today’s Aaronovitch as a member of wealthy, out of touch ruling class. Like Mandy, a sort of Marie Antoinette of the Blairite ancien regime.
PS: It was nice to see him have a pop at “potty mouthed right-wing bloggers” – one aspect of social democracy Dave probably finds regrettable. . . Of course, anyone who uses the internet to disagree with current centre-left orthodoxies becomes a ‘right-wing blogger’. This has been a Polly Toynbee tactic for a long time. You just say the word, like “witch” in the seventeenth century.
And to think, this man won a prize named after Orwell. . .