Saturday, 24 April 2010

The narcissism of Matthew Parris

For me, Times columnist Matthew Parris will always be the prize Thatcherite prat who decided (c.1983, for the benefit of ITV's World in Action) that he would be setting a moral example by living on the dole for a week in Scotswood - where, by his estimation, the local people (whose livelihoods Parris's Government was busily serving to destroy) were, surely, protesting too much about their privations.
For that week on Tyneside, of course, Parris lived miserably, and couldn't afford to keep his lights on by the end; but, unlike the proper residents of the area, he was free to check out of that particular hotel and wash his hands of that particular slice of life, while trying, post facto, to sound awfully wise about it. All in all, a bit of a sponger, that Mr Parris.
Parris is older now, ostensibly more chary of making a sanctimonious charlie of himself, for all the temptations a newspaper column offers in that line. But hark at his latest effort in the Times. (I won't link.) Yes, we do already know that Nick Clegg hates Gordon Brown, and that the contempt is mutual. This was clear last Thursday, as Parris notes. If Clegg should be kingmaker, Brown is finished, for sure. Some of us Labour voters could imagine worse scenarios... But, really, you have to be a Tory blusterer like Mr Parris in order to a) give Clegg huge credit for that paltry animosity, and b) project yourself into Clegg's shoes and so come up with the following pseudo-dialectical explanation for the Lib Dem leader's feelings on the matter:
"Mr Clegg, I believe, sees no reasons other than historical ones why the modern Labour Party should even exist. He thinks Labour has traduced and betrayed progressive politics and that there are strands in its DNA — the old Left, the trade union links, the inborn, knee-jerk collectivism, the State-authoritarianism and the suspicion of individual liberty — that condemn it for ever to lead Britain’s centre-left astray. Ideologically, Mr Brown embodies that genetic inheritance. Personally, Mr Clegg can’t stand him. That’s my take on Mr Clegg. It’s only a guess, but I would put my laptop into the Magimix if — Labour having lost its overall majority — he did anything to put Gordon Brown back into Downing Street."
I'm already gut-sick of hearing Tories like Parris talk as if they had the slightest interest or stake in principles of 'progressive politics.' If they want to drivel on about the 'betrayal' of same, they ought really to have done time in some sanctimonious Troyskist groupuscule, rather than grafting for Rupert Murdoch. Memo to Parris: sure, keep peering into the mirror on this matter, but don't presume to pronounce on anything but your own wan reflection therein.
(The picture above, BTW, is of your correspondent in Scotswood c.2007. If that seems narcissistic, please excuse: I just didn't fancy putting a pic of Matthew Parris up instead...)

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