The BBC again. A profile of the speaker, John Bercow, for Radio Four. His pet cat is called ‘Order’ – hilarious! And he’s stood up for stuff like same sex adoptions and opposed the ‘nasty’ (qv- BBC again) tendencies of the Tory Party. What a lovely bloke! And he’s been bloody brilliant as a speaker! This was the conclusion we were invited to draw from Mark Coles’s profile, which ran on Radio Four just before 18.00 on Sunday. Aaah, you hold your heads in the hands and wonder. Mark Coles is a superb reporter and one of the most talented makers of radio packages I have ever come across – a dying art, incidentally. He is also an old friend who I haven’t seen for a long time but who nonetheless I like a lot. Added to that, he is from the left and arguably the far left. Nothing wrong with that either. Good. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Except a thousand flowers don’t bloom within the BBC, do they? Only a few flowers bloom.
I was amused by this obeisance to the loathsome Bercow. Only fifteen years ago Mark was on the Today programme with me when we were about to run a piece highlighting Bercow’s membership of the far-right Federation of Conservative Students in the 80s. All that ‘Hang Mandela’ business. Bercow rang me and demanded we shouldn’t run such stuff: I gave in, as it happens, not least because I didn’t think politicians should be hammered for things they previously thought, especially when they were young. Mark, though, would not have demurred for a minute, I suspect.
The remarkable thing is the change. The degree to which liberal lefties now cling to these most unlikely of heroes – a former right wing quasi fascist self-publicising dwarf like Bercow, or an investment banker like Gina Miller. Or a stupid bureaucrat like Jean Claude Junckers. And they do this because, I suppose, they have nothing left to cling to. Everything else is gone. They are left with these pathetic, bourgeois, right wing, half-wits. It really is all they have, so swiftly has the ground shifted beneath their feet. Sometimes I almost feel sorry for them.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.