Within the tight confines of their worldviews, I often find the writings of the Guardian’s more rightwing columnists more useful than the bleatings of an Owen Jones or sub-clause stacked look-how-clever-I-ams of a Marina Hyde.
(Hyde was good the other day on the subpostmasters infamy but – and I’m sure this causes her great angst – I’ll never forgive her calling Julian “the biggest arsehole in Kensington”. It’s not the cheapness of the gibe per se: more the way she and her fellows – see Dear Guardian Media Group – trashed this courageous man, and in so doing gave what should have been his natural support base carte blanche to turn their backs on him.)
When not pugnaciously defending the indefensible in the shape of Israeli apartheid, assuring us that Putin is the devil incarnate or otherwise shilling for empire, Jonathan Freedland can – again within the cramped and complacent confines of his privileged worldview – be on target. Even when that target’s a sitting duck like Boris, it takes the skills of a seasoned pensman to do the job with accuracy of aim and niceness in the timing.
Just as the more hard hitting of Labour’s right wing (obviously I don’t mean Starmer but a line running back through Blunkett via Healey to Bevin) often prove the most effective rhetoricians in that Westminster talking shop, so do writers like Polly Toynbee and Martin Kettle often do a better job than their left-leaning colleagues of taking down the more egregious players – within and without Parliament – of a crooked game ….
… a culling service to the Greater Game’s ongoing viability since, in so doing, they absolve the players more discreet.
Toynbee, though narrowminded and at times vicious, can be informed and effective on topics, like NHS underfunding, where her views chime with the “sensible” centre-left. Kettle is more subtle, a deeper thinker. He too can shill for empire, as with his approval of missile strikes on Syria after what we now know – and a few of us suspected at the time – was not only a false flag chemical weapons attack, executed by jihadists to discredit Assad. The affair also involved CIA arm-twisting, and OPCW lying at the highest levels. But Kettle’s approval of the missile strike was muted and nuanced; softer on Damascus than his ostensibly more empire-critical colleagues, George Monbiot and Owen Jones.
Nor, as best I recall, was Kettle one of the Guardian’s many enthusiastic assassins in its open season on Jeremy Corbyn’s doomed attempt to bring a modicum of fairness and hope to a Britain fractured along class lines.
Speaking of which, let me turn to the monarchy. I’ve yet to write on the subject of that deeply sinister family which, beneath all the quaint eccentricities and folderol, is not only a symbol but a highly active agent of one of history’s most ruthless and successful ruling classes. On this I doubt he and I are on the same page but what does Martin Kettle, now Prince Andrew’s lawyers have reached a settlement wrapped in gagging clauses and set to cost tax payers a cool £12m, have to say?
Update 17:24. Since posting the above at seven am today, an anti-monarchy piece by Polly Toynbee, clearly a follower of this blog, has appeared on the Guardian website.
* * *