« Cameron's lousy defence | Main | The turn away from politics »

November 18, 2014


Nick Reid

Celebrities are overwhelmingly likely to be rich but many of them haven't always been rich.

Unless you intend getting random poor people, whom no one has heard of, on the likes of Question Time (which may be an excellent idea) then intelligent articulate celebrities who have come from poor backgrounds are the next best thing.


Slightly off topic here Chris, but if you're interested in the way the public, the media and online communities intersect and influence each other, you might be interested in checking out the Serial podcast (www.serialpodcast.org) and Pete Rorabaugh's weekly discussions of the metanarrative and related issues (www.youtube.com/user/prorabaughexpo).

There's a good article on it here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11230770/Why-Serial-is-the-greatest-podcast-ever-made.html


Politicians (and supporters) complaining about the media is a bit like sea captains complaining about the weather. Now I regret that the right does tend to have the more amusing slebs and imho the more interesting blogs (this one is an honourable exception). Of course you are right in saying the right has an advantage in owning and steering the meeja. This is just tough. To my mind this points to a difficulty the left has had since the dawn of time - the left's message is seldom amusing or catchy and is usually about what a rotten lot the rich are - true but not much of a TV show or meeja article. Harder to speak up for the left, easier to side with the devil who, I regret, does seem to have the better tunes if not the better policies.

For all his many faults Blair was confident, amusing bright and sparkling (if not terribly left) and knew how to handle the media. The rest is history.

Dave Timoney

Nick suggests that we must accept "intelligent articulate celebrities who have come from poor backgrounds" for want of enough "poor people, whom no one has heard of".

Of course, the very reason we haven't heard of them is because they don't get on the telly, outside of contrived gawpfests like Benefits Street, which suggests that there is an insurmountable catch-22.

A poor person will only receive exposure for their views (as opposed to their deeds) once they have been categorised as suitable for celebration. This doesn't just mean richer (Russell Brand) or more socially compliant (White Dee), but also consistent with the ideological frame for the "decent" working class: sentimental, illogical, unworldly etc.

Bob Crow was probably the last "face" who resisted this frame, which led to him being marginalised by the media as the left equivalent of Nick Griffin during his lifetime and promptly eulogised as a sentimental old Millwall fan once he died.

Professional or accidental entertainers are better at playing this role, hence the scope of "celebrity" has steadily narrowed over the years (ironically, the public space is no less elitist than it was in the days of the Brains Trust). Even the middle-class celebrities used to mediate working class interests are now species of paid entertainer, e.g. Owen Jones, Giles Fraser etc.

The triumph of celebocracy is crystallised in the fact that "working class intellectual" is now considered an oxymoron by TV producers.


Journalism is a privileged profession, informed and in possession of an understanding of what society’s mirror reflects. In a democracy it has a defined purpose: holding the powerful to account. But, as numerous more obvious scandals than this have shown, British broadcast journalism is characteristically corporatist. Promoting political celebrity, as opposed to designing programs to illuminate the workings of our political system is so very de rigueur, what else can a journalist do? Courageous/serious political journalism looks to be broadcasting history.

For me lamenting the state of the left misses the far more pertinent target of simple-minded public discourse, period... as the say.

An Alien Visitor

I wouldn't mind so much if these people contributed anything meaningful to society, you could say great artists add to humanity but Myleene Klass literally is a waste of oxygen, she even clearly wastes whatever talent she has. Surely one of the main goals of a proletarian revolution would be to eliminate the Myleene Klass's of this world. Eliminating (in a peaceful way it should be noted) the likes of Klass will be a great contribution to making a more efficient world. This is an urgent task, so come on workers, get off your revolutionary arses before it is all too late.


If a poor person appears on telly and does/says something interesting, they won't be poor anymore. It's like the rock band whose first album talks about poverty and violence and alienation, only to follow it with a second album about fame and champagne.

In this way, anyone on telly is effectively a lottery winner, which is why the Left (which is interested in the lot of people who haven't won and will never win a lottery) finds it tough to use the media effectively.

chilli con carne

@An Alien Visitor

Peacefully? Spoilsport. We could always grind "slebs" into mince and feed them to the homeless...two birds, one stone. Just a thought.

An Alien Visitor

"We could always grind "slebs" into mince and feed them to the homeless"

That would be unfair on the homeless. But we could feed them to animals in Safari parks, or ocean centres as part of the entertainment.


I thought the reaction to the 'debate' was more interesting than the debate itself.
Regardless, of whether you are in agreement with the mansion tax or not, there seemed to be widespread agreement that Miliband 'lost' a debate with Mylene Klass. I come from the perspective of someone who definitely does not want Miliband to be PM. However, watching the footage all I saw was somebody proposing a tax that somebody else doesn't want to pay. That's not a debate.
I find extremely interesting the lengths the metropolitan media (a large proportion of whom I am sure will identify with the left) will go to trash EM and let DC off the hook.

gastro george

"I find extremely interesting the lengths the metropolitan media (a large proportion of whom I am sure will identify with the left) will go to trash EM and let DC off the hook."

The meme of the moment.


Forgive me, George. Not sure if you are criticising me for lack or originality - not an unusual position for me to be in!

gastro george

Absolutely not. Just that it's a question that a lot of people are starting to ask. It needs an answer.

Icarus Green

Another day. Another distraction. Watching the (edited) video on the Telegraph which presumably shows Klasses 'high points' is hilarious only in that it shows she can't debate logically and is a solipsist.

The usual conservative tropes and braindead arguments that taxing the rich won't work because their accountants are too good (and so, we shouldn't even have laws because people can hire lawyers, right?) or actually most of the tax burden on £2m houses will be paid by disabled infant penguins with alzeimers or even that the tax wont raise money because rich people don't actually have any money (and by inference aren't rich too then right?!) are on display here.

It makes me angry that a dittohead aristocrat like Klass can be on tv with the Labour leader, yet you will never fucking see a trade union teacher or the like on tv in close quarters with Cameron.

And of course, to all those saying that the working class can't compete intellectually with the aristocrats why dont we have a televised debate between said schoolteacher and Klaas. I'm sure Klaas' laments that the price of maple and spruce used in violin making is getting out of control will go over well with people.

Cest la vie.


I am sure any radical change in society would still mean people will be requiring entertainment so feeding celebrities to the fish is not a viable policy.

It is annoying that celebrity is treated as a qualification for examining the plans of the leader of the opposition. It would be regarded as odd to have a unqualified person pass judgement on brain surgery. The leader of the Tory party or an economist would be more appropriate. Once they stray off their own area of celebrity a celebrity discussing politics becomes boring. Unless they have some unexpected insight, which they never do.

The reason these people appear on TV in these roles is laziness. The TV company has their phone number or can get it from their PR person. So they invite them along rather than bother with inviting any one else.


Lets have Ian Bone and Martin Wright on Question Time.
There's a plethora of articulate young working class anarchists as well.

And I'm sure there's some working class bloggers from other political traditions around too who would make a good contribution.

An Alien Visitor

"I am sure any radical change in society would still mean people will be requiring entertainment so feeding celebrities to the fish is not a viable policy."

Except that could be a reality TV show in this day and age (celebrity fish feed), such is the ubiquitous nature of celebrity culture these days. People may need entertainment but do they really need Klass and the celebrity army? I would argue not and I would argue for feeding them to the fishes. Do it on a case by case basis. For example, Ant and Dec would probably get my vote for survival...just.

But I think celebrity has gone too far, i suspect people know this and a reaction of some kind will occur.


Instead of the Mansion Tax, far
more funds would be released to feed the poor
with the end of the House of Lords with its 900 Peers
soon to rise to 2000,
that has never been part of western democracy
and is merely feudal,
as shown by Cromwell abolishing it by decree when the people's parliament began by him.

Politicians are having an 11 per cent pay rise in 2015,
that is about the same money as the lost state pension payout to
women born from 1953 and men born from 1951 that have huge numbers then losing ALL STATE PENSION FOR LIFE.

All benefits admin that has been the cause of the £25 billion overspend to date, could end with The Greens telling us all of their new and unique policy of:

- automatic, non-means tested
Citizen Income

That solves starvation for all ages, risen 70 per cent since 2010 along with the near million benefit sanctions per year.

- Bettered State Pension,
leaving no citizen with nil food money with no state pension for life as is coming with the flat rate pension

Mansion Tax will hit the poor in London in houses inflated in value, that they bought when young only a few decades back.

And it will not be fair. As MPs will still get the huge sum of second home allowance, plus all the expenses on top, plus being paid over a grand to house a relative over night in their spare bedroom, in a whole house full of extra bedrooms.


Deviation from The Mean

"Mansion Tax will hit the poor in London"

Ok, lets have a mansion tax that takes into account regional problems. But lets squeeze the rich til the pips squeak. Add that to your other suggestions and sorted.

Frank Little

I'm pretty sure Klass came out as a Conservative supporter a couple of years ago. The producers of The Agenda must have been aware of her political orientation when they booked her. There is little doubt where Allison Pearson's sympathies lie and while Sir Christopher has worked for Callaghan and Crosland, his last government job was press secretary to Geoffrey Howe. It looks like ganging-up, not that I feel sorry for Miliband at all.

Andreas Paterson

The FT did quite a good piece on the whole mansion tax thing a while back, it turns out that the vast majority of people who live in expensive houses are not surprisingly, actually quite rich.

Andreas Paterson

Missed out the link


The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad