Carry On Hypocrisy: A bad week for the new left establishment
Johann Hari, U2, UK Uncut and the failing strikes. This week the UK left has shot itself in the foot. Frank Manning kicks them while they're down.
Events involving the writer Johann Hari and U2 in the last week truly exemplified how sanctimonious and hypocritical the liberal left can be.
I have been experiencing a particularly ironic kind of schadenfreude as I found Hari reaching a new high in his career, topping the United Kingdom trending list on Twitter.
Sadly for him, rather than praise it was hundreds if not thousands of pretend snippets of interviews, dubbed #InterviewsWithHari. There had been rumblings of discontent about his style of interviewing before, so a blogger analysed them and discovered Hari had utilised a unique form of inquisition, which was then brilliantly parodied by The Daily Mash:
“...pretending people had said things to him and then imagining what his reaction would have been if they had have said those things to him, which they did not and in fact said to somebody else years ago.”
Hari himself was very quiet for the majority of the day, perhaps trying to determine a response that wouldn’t bring any further ridicule upon him. Because of this, a colleague at The Independent put forward the suggestion that, often, interviewees will repeat long quotes verbatim, without any notes, because they really like them.
Unfortunately for Chris Schuller, Hari effectively admitted his plagiarism when he finally responded to the accusations. Commentators started to pick through his history, and found a litany of lies and mistruths in his past.
Seeing their comrade take a cavalcade of criticism, the usual suspects like Polly Toynbee, Naomi Klein and Laurie Penny came out to support him. Laughably, the same people who constantly lambast the right-wing press for "making up" articles about "welfare scroungers" and political correctness absolved Johann of any and all responsibility or fault.
Unfortunately for them, writing left-wing articles which are considered thought-provoking by your peers does not absolve you of journalistic regulations and the Media Standards Trust have now called for an inquiry into the Orwell Prize he received in 2008.
A few days before this there was the surreal spectacle of a group of trustafarians protesting against a group that probably represented their anti-establishment views only a couple of years ago. I have no particular fondness for UKUncut or any of their affiliated groups, but their protest against U2 at Glastonbury was entertaining for a number of reasons.
The idea of supposed "anarchists" paying over 200 pounds to stand in a wet, muddy field with a giant balloon which cost 2,000 pounds and had possibly the world’s worst slogan: “U PAY TAX 2?” was not without irony.
As with Johann, it really couldn’t have happened to nicer people. U2 have spent decades ordering world leaders and society in general to end poverty and achieve world peace, as though all anyone has to do to reach these utopian ideals is demand them.
Meanwhile they have made hundreds of millions for themselves and managed their tax affairs in such a way as to keep as much money away from Ireland as possible. This ridiculous level of spurious hypocrisy really does deserve a protest. The novelist and one-time Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa, Paul Theroux, once famously wrote:
“There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can’t think of one at the moment.”
Banks and companies such as Vodafone act in the corporate interests of their shareholders, they are not charities and they certainly do not lecture the world on grandiose concepts which they cannot possibly hope to implement.
Until UK Uncut come up with an effective way of forcing every country in the world to eliminate tax avoidance schemes there will always be tax avoidance, it will simply move from country to country. Running an economy is not as simple as “tax the rich, tax the banks”.
If that approach worked, why is it noticeable by its absence around the world?
After their protests they returned to their comfortable middle class homes, private schools and universities. One suspects they would not be so against comprehensive school and NHS reforms had they ever been forced to use these services themselves.
Of course, it is unfair to generalise about all the protestors, but most young people can’t afford hundreds of pounds to make a statement at a festival. It was also more than a little on the sad and pathetic side of things to hear their calls to come to the strike “dressed as a worker”.
A large amount of people who work in the public sectors are privately crying out for reforms, but they remain effectively silenced by the bullying tactics of state-funded union pilgrims. Thankfully, the tide appears to be turning against that particular waste of taxpayers’ money.
The events surrounding Johann Hari were an opportunity for everyone in the media to put aside their political views and denounce plagiarism and hypocrisy. Sadly, the left decided to carry on deluding themselves that they, and only they, can decide who’s right and who’s wrong.
Frank Manning is a researcher for the civil liberties pressure group Big Brother Watch. He writes in a personal capacity and tweets at @BillyManning
Read more on: Frank Manning, Johann Hari, Polly Toynbee, union pilgrims, UK Uncut, u2, bono, glastonbury, U PAY TAX 2?, the daily mash, naomi klein, laurie penny, trustafarians, paul theroux, come dressed as a worker, and the commentator
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