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Sunday, November 23, 2008
One man's propaganda…

A few weeks ago, I made one of my biennial trips from Bagshot to the delightful city of Oxford. The purpose of my visit was either to look up some obscure management (management – moi?) reference, to prepare for an audience with The Master, or to have a haircut. And - d'you know - I can't remember which of those it was.

But that is of no matter because, while walking up St Giles, I bumped into a familiar-looking individual whose name I could not immediately place. (You have to understand that, because Oxford is The Centre of The Known Universe, everyone passes through the place several times in a normal lifetime (or - if they have the slightest measure of distinction or discrimination - more frequently)).

It was hardly surprising that I failed to identify him: it was the renowned Peter Perceptive-Person but he and Oxford are not readily associated. Fortuitously, yesterday I listened to Radio 4's The News Quiz and learnt from it that PPP had been running down this amusing programme.

Here's what Peter Perceptive-Person wrote in his blog, in a 'piece' (that's a very flattering description for, what is actually, an ill-structured rant) titled God, schools and television. Here is a small extract - although, what the implied link between 'schools' and 'television' is, PPP fails to tell us - to give you the flavour of one of the better-considered arguments:
Amid the necessary rage over the Ross-Brand affair at the BBC, it is often said that the Corporation still produces a lot of high-quality material alongside the Leftist propaganda and the low-brow dross. I’m not so sure of this.

Radio 4 has some good news and current-affairs programmes, but much of its airtime is stuffed with dire alleged comedy, the appalling, shameless and unchecked Leftist propaganda of ‘The News Quiz’ and an unchanging array of chat shows presented by ancient liberals.
I am pleased to see that The News Quiz team take this absurd generalisation as an endorsement of their programme. In their usual fashion, they poke fun at all and sundry, including those noted right-wing fanatics: Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson, and Liam Byrne, the new Cabinet Office Minister. Quite right, Peter Perceptive-Person; such 'appalling, shameless and unchecked Leftist propaganda' ought not to be permitted on the airwaves.

This Peter Perceptive-Person is, in fact, Peter Hitchens of The Mail on Sunday. He needs to learn a thing or two so, while I'm currently inclined towards advice rather than admonition, let me offer some help to PPP to improve the quality of his journalism. (More examples of P. Hitchens object lessons are to be found here.)

Now, Peter: firstly, if you are an alleged journalist and you have a blog, make sure that both the writing and arguments in the blog are as lucid, well-researched, and as detailed as those you include in your 'proper' newspaper articles. (This advice presumes, hopefully, that the two types are, in practice, distinguishable.)

Finally, Peter, I think you ought to consider the possibility that the political axis in this country has moved a long way to the right since the days of Harold 'Socialist' MacMillan, yet you have not noticed. It is a time-honoured habit of people with extremist opinions, particularly those on the right, to accuse almost everybody else of being an extremist, but on the other wing. If you must attempt to promulgate your views to the unthinking, use evidence rather than supposition, argument rather than dogma, and objective statements rather personal assertions. Your work may benefit.

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