Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Economist hits rock-bottom

For sometime now I’ve been thinking of ending my subscription to The Economist; I’ve kept it on as reading it fills in the 15 or 20 minutes it takes me to travel to work each day, but two articles over the last couple of weeks have convinced me the time is ripe for us to finally part company.

The first one about the travails of Brown could have been rustled up on that 20 minute journey on the bus I was talking about earlier, the second one about the "Redwhiteandbluenecks" (the "Palin constituency" in Britain) is probably the worst piece of clichéd, bigoted (and that's from a regular reader of Brian Feeney's column), insulting journalism I’ve read in some time.

A sample:
These people don’t plant national flags on their porches like their American counterparts, because they have no porches: they live on council estates or in terraces in ex-industrial towns. But they may fly flags on their cars when the English football team is playing. They are poorly educated; their children are outperformed by immigrants at school, and prone to early pregnancy. They eat too much heart-attack food (though no squirrel gumbo). They drink in working men’s clubs and pubs that don’t have chalkboard daily menus. They keep terrifying dogs. They are savagely parodied by comedians: they are known as “pikeys” or “chavs”— terms which, unlike “redneck”, have not been defiantly reclaimed by those they apply to—or as “white-van man”. Where the American redneck is immortalised in “The Dukes of Hazzard”, these lives are chronicled in “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet” and “Boys from the Blackstuff”, two iconic 1980s television series.

So there we go, a complete class stigmatised in one short paragraph; any English nationalists reading will be also delighted to see how the writer deals with the whole English/British identity question.

I think I’ll be soon switching to Mackenzie and The Sun for a more nuanced view of our political scene and society.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Economist is a socially liberal, anti-patriotic rag, masquerading under a banner of supposed intellect. I ended my brief subscription to it a long time ago.

I did notice, though, a distinct difference in the way it treats British and American patriotism.

It cannot stand the former, being consistently pro-nationalist on Northern Ireland and generally hostile or derogatory towards anything to do with national pride or social conservatism.

On the latter, it adopts a much more tolerant approach. I assume this is due to the fact that the editors know that anything else would result in any remaining sales being shoven back down their throats even in 'blue state' America - something that should have happened here.

wildgoose said...

Sheesh! That is just appallingly smug, arrogant and crass. I remember when the Economist was worth reading, (I even bought a copy whilst on my honeymoon - which probably wasn't my most romantic moment), but you can see why it must be months since I last bought it.

By the way O'Neill, did you listen to "Document" on Radio 4 tonight about how Harold Wilson was trying to arrange a complete withdrawal from Northern Ireland back in 1974? It's interesting to note the panic and consternation this possibility caused in the Republic, despite the declared aims of the RoI Constitution for a United Ireland - they even lobbied against such a move.

If you missed it you can probably listen again using the BBC iPlayer.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, he is just pointing out that there is a type of person who is not represented in government in Britain, but is represented in America. That seems to me to be correct. What's with this reactionary rubbish?

O'Neill said...

That seems to me to be correct.

And do you think the various descriptions of the people making up that demographic group is also correct?

Anonymous said...

There absolutely are people who fit that description. A lot of them. One thing he missed out is that they probably all read the Daily Mail. If you are saying that they don't exist, then fair enough - we simply disagree. If you are saying they shouldn't be referred to, or described, in the context of the political landscape, then it strikes that you would like to suppress freedom of expression.

O'Neill said...

The question posed by the article is:"Who speaks for the Palin constituency in Britain?"

To answer obviously they first needed to make an attempt at identifying who the "Palin vonstituency" would be in the UK. They've taken the lazy and even dishonest route in answeriung that question.

For me, the Palin Constituency would be comprised of people holding a healthy pride in their nation whilst simultaneously feeling a healthy scepticism towards their nation's political elite; they would also combine a natural social conservatism with a strong individualist and libertarian streak.

Now, that constituency does exist in the UK and it is massive. But despite what The Economist (and apparently you) are alleging, many different kinds of people hold these views irrespective of their race, irrespective of which daily newspaper they may read, irrespective of the sexual performance of their under-age offspring, irrespective of what may be their favourite food, irrespective of where they enjoy their G and T, irrespective of whether or not they have a killer mutt.

Re your last point; The Economist and you can say whatever you want, I'll however retain the right to make a critical judgement on what you say.

wildgoose said...

Absolutely O'Neill.

Well said.

kiki said...
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