My miserabilists of the year
spiked editor Mick Hume in The Times (London).
It is not only the weather that makes Britain feel like a frozen Narnia at the end of 2005. Our cultural and political landscape also appears to be under the dead hand of the White Witch, who makes it seem ‘always winter and never Christmas’.
So I dedicate this last notebook of 2005 to listing a few of my Miserabilists of the Year, who in their different ways have done so much to spread unjustified doom and gloom about the human condition.
- Whether telling us that flushing the loo would cause a summer drought, warning us to expect the joint-worst winter in 200 years with ‘quite severe loss of life’, or pursuing his lifelong crusade to ban all cars, Ken Livingstone has done his best to make living in London seem like capital punishment. The mayor still refuses to organise a proper new year celebration because December 31 is ‘not an event, it is a public order problem’. In Mr Livingstone ’s London it seems it is ‘always winter and never New Year’s Eve’.
- Gordon Brown remains the miserabilist’s miserabilist, the Chancellor who put the prude in prudent and has done most to make politics appear slightly less uplifting than accountancy. But don’t be fooled by claims that ‘Dave’ Cameron is a Cavalier to Brown’s Roundhead. The speed with which the new Tory leader appointed Zac Goldsmith, multimillionaire eco-worrier, to tell the rest of us to make do with fewer cars and cheap flights, suggests that he may be a miserabilist in sheep’s clothing.
- The Live 8 crew — Bob Geldof, Bono, Richard Curtis — who turned Africa into a stage for poseurs. I am not sure which was more miserabilist: treating Africans as if they were Kipling’s ‘half-devil and half-child’ in need of saving by Luvvies, Actually; or berating us in the West for buying make-up and McDonald’s. Geldof says he is bored of being ‘Mr Africa’. I feel his pain.
- In a hotly contested year, the award for miserabilism in the media just goes to Jon Snow, whose daily ‘Snowmail’ taster for Channel 4 News toed the line on everything from New Orleans (payback for President Bush on global warming, of course), to the London bombings (payback for Tony Blair on Iraq, of course), rounding off with a merry pre-Christmas special about ‘the potential for a major natural or man-made disaster affecting the UK ‘.
- The downbeat, whiny, sanitised stars of Blairpop, from Coldplay to the Kaiser Chiefs, who have ruined the bad name of youth rebellion. James Blunt’s video for You’re Beautiful, his No 1, showed him as a desperate man apparently committing suicide — presumably after listening to the record once too often. If music be the food of miserabilism, don’t play on.
- Everybody is now supposed to love St Jamie Oliver of Our School Dinner Lady. But I have the cheeky chappie chef down as an undercover miserabilist, for feeding the nation junk propaganda about how our children’s health and education is supposedly at risk from a diet that is really better than ever before. Remember the good old days, when the internet was full of websites like ‘Punch Jamie Oliver’?
- Those hysterics who claim that four bombs in London heralds the advance of ‘Islamofascism’ as the biggest threat to civilisation since the Second World War — and those hysterics who counter-claim that the response to the bombings shows that ‘Islamophobia’ is putting us on the slippery slope to Nazism. Not so much a clash of civilisations as a meeting of miserabilisms.
- Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, for tirelessly spreading epidemicitis, cautioning that we are threatened by epidemics of obesity/binge drinking/ smoking/whatever, plus a hypothetical pandemic of avian flu. Warning: Government Miserabilism Can Damage your Health. There are many other health-and-lifestyle miserabilists, from the judge who opposed longer licensing hours because ‘continental-style drinking requires continental-style people’ rather than us boozy British scum-bags, to the company who called sacking a woman for smoking at home ‘positive discrimination’.
To all of them, and any others yet to come out of the wardrobe, a very happy new year from those of us who still believe that 2005 has been the best of times to be alive — at least until 2006 arrives.
Mick Hume is editor of spiked
This article is republished from The Times (London)
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