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Monday, September 06, 2010

Mad Dogs and Eurosceptics

Daniel Hannan:

There’s a fascinating snippet in Rod Liddle’s column today (secured behind the fastness of the Times paywall). He writes of being summoned to see his boss at the BBC following a complaint about the Corporation’s bias against Eurosceptics. The complaint had been made by Lord Pearson of Rannoch, then a Tory peer. Rod writes:

The [BBC] panjandrum listened to my nervous musings and then held aloft Lord Pearson’s latest letter and said: “Rod, you do realise that these people are mad?”

See how the concept of insanity has been redefined by our state broadcaster? Malcolm Pearson was, and is, the most decent of men. Instead of raging publicly against the BBC, he had set out, politely and patiently, to convince it that it could do better. 

Yes, that's right, an actual aristocrat is complaining that the BBC is behaving like a bunch of, well, out of touch aristocrats. After having spent the better part of the last century raving against the House of Lords, and the landed upper classes in general, the British Left are conducting themselves with their own style of toffishness. From Lloyd George on down, their real complaints against the aristocracy was not its elitism, or the injustices of the class system, but that they weren't the aristocrats.

All those turgid tributes to coal miners, who were themselves at the pinnacle of the working class' own hierarchy, were but so much dust in the eyes. Like most revolutionaries they preached equality, as a means of establishing their own version of an elitist system. But not plus ca change, no milord, these new peers, of a nominally classless society, are a noticeable retrogression from the old aristocrats. A falling off there has been.

Take identification, you could tell a member of the old British upper class fairly easily, by dress, bearing and diction. These are still indicators, but less obvious. The sartorial style is neo-toffish proletarian. Jeans, like working men used to wear, but designer and at the price of the weekly wages of most ordinary mortals. The rips and fading not a product of hard physical labour, but scarcely concealed artifice. Old Lord Whatnot thought he was better than you, but respected you enough not to conceal it. The new aristocracy doesn't think you are clever enough to grasp their condescension. Thus their uniform of stylish slobbery.  

The methods reflect the goals. The old aristocracy wanted the good life. So long as the peasants minded their own business, and paid their rents, they could pretty much do as they liked. The repression which existed, and it was real and wicked, was exercised only so long as needed to maintain the status and power of the Elect. It was power wielded toward a pragmatic end. If the peasants got too uppity, the Vermeers and the port might have been at stake. Otherwise, live well and let others live as best they could.

The new aristocracy is not so modest. They seek to mould the lower classes to their ends. They want the chianti and the Land Rover and your heart and mind. Thus the sneering contempt of the BBC panjandrum. The intent of the BBC, from its inception nearly nine decades ago, was to guide British public opinion. This was why Winston Churchill was kept off the air for much of the Thirties. His ideas went counter to the opinion of the then forming neo-aristocracy. They believed peace with Hitler could have been negotiated, and regarded Churchill as a loose cannon and Victorian throwback, with romantic conceptions of individual liberty and British greatness. He was mad too.

Posted by Richard Anderson on September 6, 2010 | Permalink

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