Rod Liddle

The hatred that Martin Amis and Jeremy Corbyn have in common

29 October 2015

9:00 AM

29 October 2015

9:00 AM

Everyone loves an underdog. It doesn’t matter how incompetent they might be — indeed, incompetence works in their favour. You do not expect underdogs to be adept, do you? It doesn’t really matter how vile, otiose or absurd their beliefs are, either. So long as they are up against someone more powerful, a certain sentimental section of the population will be rooting for them. Look at the Palestinians, for example. And look at Jeremy Bloody Corbyn.

My wife — a Tory — said to me the other day: ‘You lot want to watch it. I’m beginning to feel sorry for the bloke. The sympathy votes will be stacking up.’ We had been listening to some deposed Labour grandee laying into Jezza for his witless, virtue–signalling lapel-badge politics, his managerial ineptitude, his beard, his dress sense, perhaps even the whiff of his breath — lentils stewed in an Irish peat bog for interminable hours — his pre-teen internationalism and his utter estrangement from the electorate.

I was cheering along and agreed with every point. But there is so much to have a go at with Corbyn that in the end it sounds like overkill, like breaking if not a butterfly, then a really crap moth — one of those tiny brown micro-moths even the lepidopterists get bored by — on a wheel. You can feel, when these fusillades rain down, the audience shifting uneasily and the weight of allegiance drifting towards the dull, the stultifyingly dull Marxist idiot. It does not matter how accurate the barbs may be; simply that there are too many of them, one after the other until it becomes a barbarism. And the public, or some of it, thinks well hell, if he can arouse this level of animosity, then he can’t be all bad. Such fury and contempt — maybe, then, he has a point. And they think this even if he doesn’t actually have a point, even if the ‘new politics’ is merely an amalgam of late 1970s radical chic idiocy and the aforementioned incompetence.


I worried about this when reading a lengthy piece eviscerating Corbyn in a newspaper for which I also work, the Sunday Times. It was written by Martin Amis — for me one of the most powerful novelists this country has produced since the second world war. Behind J.G. Ballard and David Storey, I would reckon, but probably ahead of Doris Lessing and Muriel Spark. He has not quite received the respect he deserves — from the awful prize-givers, the mimsy arts broadcasters, the literary hacks — perhaps for reasons of political correctness and one suspects that this grates upon the man, rightly enough. He is a far better novelist than his dad, I would suggest, and yet his dad hangs over him like a cackling black bat. Perhaps this is why he decided to stop writing novels which were primarily ‘funny’ and instead got very earnest indeed, not always to good effect. Still, we should not carp when a talented writer tackles such subjects as the possible nuclear Armageddon and the Holocaust, even if his marks on both subjects (à la Kurt Vonnegut, who retrospectively gave his novels university essay grades) are, respectively, C- and B+. That is what the best writers are there for — to deal with the big.

But I mean Amis as a novelist, not as a journalist. He once said that of all the literary pursuits, journalism was easily the easiest; odd, then, that he is not very good at it. His attack upon Corbyn began with a lengthy, hugely boring and ineffective trope about a cartoon cat, which may have lost many readers and almost lost me, a fan of the chap. The rest of it contained interesting and perceptive reminiscences of his time at the New Statesman in the late 1970s, where every other person was an ‘Identikit Corbyn’ and, as he puts it, ‘weedy, nervy and thrifty’, and the sensible people avoided them like the plague. The central attack on Jezza, though, was this: he is humourless (yes, tick: but I wonder how many other Amis fans thought a little wistfully that the same could not have been said about the younger Martin Amis), that he is possessed of a ‘slow-minded rigidity’ (yes, two ticks. Exactly the point) and — wait for it — that he is ‘under-educated’.

And it is this last barb which is the problem. However louche and hip Amis may once have been, or still mistakenly thinks himself to be, he is a fastidious snob, and every bit as estranged from the average voter as Corbyn himself (not least as a consequence of living in New York, of course). Amis’s novels, right from the very first, betray a terror of, and a distance from, the working class; for Amis the plebs are epitomised by the venal and thuggish and stupid shop steward Stanley Veale, or the dart-obsessed Brobdingnagian Keith Talent, from London Fields. Or the whole heap of them who populate his more recent novel Lionel Asbo — which was actually better than the critics decreed and contained certain elements of that long–forgotten thing with Amis, humour. These characters are signifiers of a class which is base in its aspirations, unable to tell a hawk from a handsaw, or indeed tell you where that quote came from, and they are threatening to take over. The plebs, the untermensch, the workers.

He is not so very far from Corbyn, then, after all. The same disdain for a vast group of people, for their uncouth views and their lowbrow culture and their neanderthal political sensibilities. An echo of Orwell’s patrician dismissal of the working class in Nineteen Eighty-Four: ‘Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.’ A moronic agglomeration of plumbers and roadsweepers and sparkies and terrifying chaps on building sites, all brain-dead to the world.

Too much, already. We should be pleased that one of our greatest novelists deigns to involve himself in politics, and delighted that a national newspaper deems this deigning worthy of publication. My suspicion is that in its upper-class snobbery, it will have flung another bunch of voters Jezza’s way.

Lordy, we don’t want that.

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Show comments
  • artemis in france

    I doubt that the effect will be lasting, Rod. After all, the election’s a long way off and by then the country and Europe will be in such a state that Corbyn’s brand of open house immigration will be completely unacceptable. I must say though that PMQT is a much more sedate and enlightening affair than it was under Milliband. No jeering from the opposition front bench. I approve. Yesterday he made Cameron work for a change and we got some idea of government thinking. Of course Corbyn himself has no policies to speak of but just opposes what Cameron plans to do. We shall have to see what he does in the next year or so.

    • blandings

      No Rodders is right. But it’s more than support for the underdog, at least for me. One more bitch by a Telegraph hack and I swear to God I’ll vote for Corbyn just to…well, just because.

    • AtilaTheHen

      “Of course Corbyn himself has no policies to speak of but just opposes what Cameron plans to do. We shall have to see what he does in the next year or so.”
      That’s the measure of the man – a sixth form rebel – nothing more, nothing less.

    • Daniel Maris

      But will the Tory vote be split by then. One can certainly envisage scenarios where the Tories split following Cameron losing the EU vote. In those circumstances, Corbyn’s Labour might be the biggest party. He might be able to become PM with SNP and Lib Dem support – and there is no way the Lib Dems will ever support the Conservatives again.

  • grimm

    The only Martin Amis book I have read is Koba The Dread but if his fear/distrust of the education despising lower classes is as Liddle says then I am in sympathy with him. I live and work among the people that Liddle thinks Amis has unfairly slighted – does Liddle?

    I worry about the spread of dumbed down, de-sensitised low culture where a man displays his intellect with a ‘knowledgeable’ discussion of this season’s football transfers or his ability to choose the best mobile phone contract and where conversation is like an never ending smutty comedy script.

    Amis description of Corbyn sounds like a well deserved attack and does not leave me feeling sympathetic to him.

    • plainsdrifter

      Nicely put. The aggressive egalitarian, chippy attitude of society with its oafish behaviour and appetite for the moronic are simply excruciating.

      • PaD

        Spread evenly throughout BBC programming

        • plainsdrifter

          Especially the ‘comedy’, at least on Radio 4. My God …

  • jennybloggs

    So Rod has a Tory wife. Nothing wrong in that of course. Lots of people do. Still it explains a lot.

    • amicus

      He’s very lucky.

    • Mr Grumpy

      Boo, hiss. Not like Jezza, who had a wife who was so socialist she wouldn’t send their sprog to the local comprehensive.

      • jennybloggs

        Rod appears to be turning rightwards and I had thought that this would be because of advancing age, but now it seems that it might be the influence of his significant other.
        No boos or hisses about it – my OH votes Tory and I am not thinking of divorce.

        • Mr Grumpy

          Fair enough, and I’m sure your OH is not contemplating divorce either despite your politics.

          Rod has long since dressed to the right on most issues, if anything has changed it is that Corbynism is finally liberating him from his visceral identification with Labour.

    • Solage 1386

      It all sounds a bit kinky if you ask me……

    • Mr B J Mann

      Like everyone at the Beeb being unbiased but having a Labour or “liberal” partner?

  • Baron

    You should listen to your wife, Rod, she’s right.

    What you, Martin Amis or any of the scribblers calling themselves journalists have to say about the cumryd matters little, the man’s perceived as not one of the political elite of sameness galore – on educational background, personality, dress code, policies ….. He, or rather an appeal of someone like him, is unlikely to vanish into the misty Autumn air anytime soon.

  • souptonuts

    Martin Amis is a fine novelist indeed although his recent The Zone of Interest was underwhelming. But his dad was a comic master:the drunken lecture and other scenes in Lucky Jim are sublime. I was surprised to read the Grand Loquitur’s ST piece on Corbyn: as a self styled outsider odd for him to sniff at Corbyn’s A Level results.

  • patwin

    More Corbyn pieces!
    I’m beginning to think the Tories are running scared!
    They should be.
    Corbyn’s appeal is the utter difference between him and the bunch of ‘career politicians’ running the country with ‘fear politics’ and telling us plebs what to think.
    Corbyn is a breath of fresh air.

    • rodliddle

      People who think that Jeremy is a breath of fresh air have forgotten what air is.

      • Charlie Asbo

        Well someone who thinks that Amis is a ‘powerful novelist’ has obviously been suffering from lack of air to the brain.

  • Dr Bock

    Yes, it is apparently a national characteristic to root for the yellow? underdog, dismayingly, for it may well be that fairly innocuous impulse that has been perverted into the fetishisation of victimhood, but I digress. I certainly agree about the trope upon which Amis fils hanged his anti-Jeremiad, it was a bit too involved for something so fundamentally slight.

  • ill-liberal

    The masses generally at least like someone with a bit of personality. In the long run I think most will move towards Farage, at least he seems like he’d be a good laugh down the pub. His reception on last weeks QT suggested this, as long as he realises we’ve all got the picture on immigration and now starts to focus on his many other sensible points.

    • PerplexedSardine

      I’ve been impressed with the QT audience the last couple of weeks. It seemed like a lot of normal people had snuck in amongst the activists.

      • ill-liberal

        Absolutely. I’d not watched it in a while but decided to tune in as Rod Liddle was one. I thought I’d stumbled into an alternate dimension, although the lefties still try to make more noise than the numbers suggest.

        I wonder if it was just too difficult in Grimsby and Dover to ship in a load of left leaning clapping ,seals so they were stuck with normal folk .

        • PerplexedSardine

          Certainly that, and I also suspect an increasing number of people massage their views to appear more BBC friendly on the questionnaire.

          • Solage 1386

            Have you ever noticed that whenever there are any non-white persons in the audience, especially if there are only a few of them, the camera keeps zooming in on them time after time? It’s an absolute f–king scream, so predictable, and so bloody patronising .

          • Mr B J Mann

            What really gets me is why Dimbleby has to zoom in on particular person.

            If the guy with the mike goes to the “wrong” person, why does he need to waste airtime directing the mike to the “right” person?

            Anyone would think he had plants in the audience!

      • Solage 1386

        Possibly the BBC is trying to con us into thinking that they have no bias. If we are pleased when we see ‘ordinary people’ in a Question Time audience, then we are very easily pleased. They know this.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Surely it’s the (British) press that focuses on immigration, I’ve seen foreign channels ask him more wide ranging questions and allow him to give more wide ranging answers.

      We can’t know what ends up on the cutting room floor!

  • dip

    was your wife previously married to Les Dawson by any chance?

  • Mr Grumpy

    But Rod, he’s not ‘under-educated’ through lack of opportunity, is he? He’s thick, ignorant and easily as middle class as Amis. If we must be ruled by the privileged (and I fear we must) let them at least be people with the nous to make something out of their privilege.

  • MikeF

    I’m not going to trawl through 1984 but I suspect “Orwell’s patrician dismissal of the working class” is uttered by O’Brien, the character in the novel who is a member of the ‘Inner Party’ and hence the mouthpiece for the type of attitude Orwell seeks to subvert. As for Mr Amis he is hardly Tolstoy or even Dickens – no-one is going to be influenced in their attitudes or voting intentions by anything he says or does.

    • Neil Saunders

      You should trawl through “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, because it is a masterpiece.

      The sentiments about the “proles” belong to the novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, although I have no doubt that O’Brien would share them.

      • MikeF

        I have read it and most of Orwell’s other work. His relevance to today’s political climate – the parallel between ‘NewSpeak’ and ‘politically correct’ language for instance – remains profound. I was simply making the point that that passage in the book was not a reflection of Orwell’s own beliefs. Rod seemed wittingly or unwittingly to be aligning himself with those who still malign Orwell because they can never forgive him for exposing so much leftwing thought to be not just cynical and self-serving but also facile and contradictory.

        • Neil Saunders

          I’m not so sure that Orwell didn’t retain a residual contempt for the working class, in spite of his moral commitment to, temperamental affinity for and intellectual endorsement of democratic socialism. There is, for example, the telling passage in “The Road to Wigan Pier” where he remarks – clearly ashamed of a conviction that he could nevertheless not honestly surrender – that the working class smell.

          • Sean L

            Yes but why shouldn’t he also be committed to truth: surely they *did* smell.

          • Neil Saunders

            i didn’t say that Orwell was not committed to the truth; indeed his commitment to the truth is probably the principal reason to admire him.

            His reaction to the alleged smell of the working class (in the early 20th century) was visceral, as he openly admits in his writing.

          • Sean L

            I agree, my point was merely that I don’t see how a visceral response, and one’s response to another’s stench is surely visceral almost by definition, in anyway implies contempt. In Orwell’s case quite the opposite I’d have thought. Why would he even be doing what he did and writing what he wrote if he felt contempt for them?

          • Neil Saunders

            If it was contempt (and I’ve elsewhere conceded that this might not be quite the right word), rather than a visceral aversion, then Orwell certainly worked through it intellectually and overcame it.

          • PaD

            Which makes it the more commendable..he stuck with it

          • Banjo

            Why the prissy “alleged”? They stank and Orwell noticed. What’s the big deal?

          • Neil Saunders

            The big deal is that you’re missing the point. Orwell could have said that they were dirty, or had poor table manners, or were shabby, or mangled the King’s English, or a lot of other things which might or might not have been true.

            The important thing is that he acknowledged a gulf between them and him, in spite of his theoretical commitment to what he (rightly, I think) considered to be their cause.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Good manners cost nothing.

            But when you’re sharing a privy and a standpipe with half a street, especially when you do heavy manual work in a hot and smelly environment, it must be hard to come up smelling of roses.

          • Neil Saunders

            Yes, and this was why Orwell chose smell rather than something that had a more obvious connection to personality/character rather than environment.

          • Ron Todd

            Orwell’s highest ambition for the working class was for each family to have its own outside toilet. When reading his non fiction work I always got the impression that he considered the gulf between the working class and his own to be unbridgeable and I am not sure that he would have wanted it to be bridged..

          • Neil Saunders

            Orwell was a product of his time and class but – pace the socioeconomic determinists – he was able to rise above this through individual quirks of temperament and intellect. I am sure his ambitions for the working class, even in the shorter term, were loftier than outside toilets; his longer-term ambition was clearly the dissolution of all such class distinctions, but he was enough of a realist to acknowledge that this could not occur overnight, or be imposed by righteous fiat.

          • Solage 1386

            The gulf between the lower middle-class and the upper middle-class is also unbridgeable. This was especially so in the earlier part of the 20th Century. Orwell was inferior.

          • Daniel Maris

            He did go to Eton. So not sure he was really “lower” middle class.

          • Solage 1386

            Apart from the Eton Choir-book (c.1500), which contains the complete surviving sacred works of John Browne, and many other compositions by Davy, Cornysh, Lambe, Wylkynson, Fayrfax, et al, the place is a total shyte hole, fit only for Mongs…..

          • MikeF

            Without rereading Wigan Pier I couldn’t say but I don’t think Orwell ever felt what you could call ‘contempt’ for the working class – though he probably did feel something of that sort for middle class fellow travellers of the Communist Party. Something he refused to do was mimic proletarian characteristics – he never, for instance, affected a working class accent even when out ‘tramping’ to gather material for Down and Out. Odd to think there was a time when the left made a shibboleth out of a supposed concern for the ‘working class’ that they now despise. Then, as now, they always need something to disguise the real object of their admiration – themselves.

          • Neil Saunders

            “Contempt” might not be quite the right word for what Orwell clearly felt. There was certainly an involuntary shudder of unease, though. You’re right about Orwell’s refusal to hide his patrician accent and manners when tramping, but this was wholly of a piece with his aspiration to personal integrity.

          • PaD

            Absolutely right! Mc Shane and Rotherham…classic

          • Daniel Maris

            Orwell was being honest. He also comments on the dreadful food they eat – denatured bread with marge and jam. He simply wanted poor people to have decent food and bathrooms. At the time that was a radical demand, opposed by most Conservatives.

          • Neil Saunders

            Yes, he was.

          • PaD

            So does one and one only,uncomfortable observation negate an authors canon?
            Im sure Dickens must have recoiled quietly at times too.
            But between them the conditions of working class people were brought forcefully to the attention of ‘the educated’

          • Neil Saunders

            No, obviously not.

          • Solage 1386

            All human beings smell, though some stink–especially when they go unwashed, crap themselves, or rot. Such is the nature of the beast that is Man!
            I stink, therefore I am. Phew! Pass me a nosegay.

          • Neil Saunders

            Quite. I’m certainly not a relativist or subjectivist, but within certain limits bad smells (and this is what Orwell had in mind) are to some extend in the nose of the besniffer, dependent on habit, cultural norms and the like. The men who worked in Billingsgate Market fairly soon got to the point where they didn’t notice the strong smell of fish any more.

          • Solage 1386

            Those who enjoy performing tunalingus (not I, I hasten to add….) have experienced exactly the same phenomenon. Truly, Man is infinitely adaptable.
            *
            Note: Tuna instead of Cunni due to moderation. Still, perhaps Tuna is more apt given the subject of fish……

          • Neil Saunders

            A rose by any other name, and all that…

          • There goes the Febreze market share, then.

          • Neil Saunders

            True!

          • Banjo

            They did.

          • Neil Saunders

            Maybe so, but you’re missing the real point.

      • CRSM

        Animal Farm was a masterpiece: 1984 is the work of a bitter old man who had lost most of his literary ability. A bit like that runt Amis I guess. (I’m not too sure that ‘runt’ is the right word for the narcissist Amis. Some other word ending in ‘unt’ may be more appropriate).

        • Neil Saunders

          That was pretty much C. S. Lewis’s verdict on the respective merits of the two books (except for the bit about Martin Amis, of course). I agree about “Animal Farm”, but – needless to say, really – disagree about “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.

        • Solage 1386

          Kunt?

          • CRSM

            Not so sure about alike, but Amis’s pic in this article, and even more so the pic in the other article here about the man, gives credence to the saying that “You can take a man out of the gutter, but you can’t take the gutter out of the man”. What a sneering, raddled old git he looks. (Amis that is, Corbyn just looks like a sociology lecturer).

        • Solage 1386

          Is bitterness always a fault, or a weakness? Doesn’t it perhaps contain its own insights into the nature of the world and the nature of the self? Or does it always distort perception?

  • cd

    for me one of the most powerful novelists this country

    So not very powerful at all.

    People don’t vote for people they feel sorry for. If he gets a sympathy vote it will be a small one. Corbyn speaks well in interviews. Cameron sounds like Blair. Whether he despises the working classes or not, like Farage Corbyn has the common touch – or just sounds human.

    • Daniel Maris

      Yep, I agree. If he’s picking up votes it’ll be for his Geography Teacher death stare (was it Hardman who coined that?) silencing the braying Tories.

    • Or just the common vulgarity to match the common ignorance. No thanks.

  • Liberanos

    So, you’re on a no-corridor train leaving King’s Cross, first stop Crewe. At the last moment, Jeremy Corbyn jumps in, joining Martin Amis already sitting opposite you. Mr Corbyn has just read Mr Amis’s piece in the Sunday Times. Can we imagine the opening statement from either?

    • goandplay

      Well, they’d probably wonder how they were going get to Crewe without stopping at Euston Station first?

      • Liberanos

        Particularly as there are no corridor-less trains these days!

    • Ron Todd

      Would Corbyn know who Amis was?

      • Malcolm Stevas

        I’d guess not. Does Corbyn read any fiction at all, or notice the Arts? He doesn’t seem the type.

        • Daniel Maris

          I expect he’s had to sit through some dreadful ethnic and feminist theatre in Islington.

          • Solage 1386

            Apparently, Jeremy likes Al Jolson, and is often to be heard singing “Mammy, Mammy, how I love ya, how I love ya, my dear old Mammy” whilst accompanying himself on a banjo. No-one has yet had the heart to tell him that Al was not in fact a knee-grow, but a Jew from New York. Knowledge of this fact would break poor Jeremy’s heart.

          • Naughty! : )

          • Solage 1386

            But nice…….

    • PaD

      Wonderful.
      Great idea for a sketch!

    • Daniel Maris

      “Martin, sadly you’re misinformed. I got a D in Technical Drawing as well.”

  • Freddythreepwood

    He’s not undereducated. He’s thick.

    • Malcolm Stevas

      Possibly not thick, but certainly a hard-case political geek barely interested in anything else. You wouldn’t to invite him for breakfast, let alone to run the country.

  • Ipsidixit

    Im not worried about the fact that Corbyn is thick but I am concerned that a lot of voters are even thicker.

  • Bob339

    This is the inevitable result of the greed shown by the rich. They have turned Britain into a slave state where people have to work for money to pay exorbitant fees for housing, food,travel and utilities. Soon they will add medical care to the list.
    This will not end well.

    • MC73

      ” a slave state where people have to work for money”

      Oh, the horror!

      • Kennybhoy

        :-).

    • Malcolm Stevas

      You are Dave Spart and I claim my tenner. “Slave state”, wonderful stuff.

      • Kennybhoy

        🙂

    • Kennybhoy

      Parody, surely…? 🙂

    • Yeah, capitalism is the reason we’re living in windowless shacks on dirt roads without proper medicines for our dogs… oh wait a minute.

      • Mr B J Mann

        Yes, but if you wait much longer than a minute it might have returned us to the those times!

  • Frederick Gent

    Ho Ho, Rod, how witty and droll. What a novel approach (not at all). Another sneering article full of negativity and condescension, but absent a single objective fact about Corbyn, his policies or his character. Perhaps one, he does indeed have a beard, though how this will affect the economy, foreign policy or anything at all relevant is not entirely clear. Return to night school and when you have acquired a little more comprehension about journalism, you might attempt to learn to express yourself more competently.

    It is unlikely that the sympathy vote will benefit Corbyn, so do not worry. Continue to pedal your vacuous hostile sentiments, without fear that this garner him support. However clarity of message, such as his performance in this week’s PMQs, a principled focus on reversing the trickle up redistribution of wealth that was accelerated in the last 4 decades, determination that any restructuring of the economy should not be at the expense of those who are weakest and most vulnerable and that everyone should have a stake and a say in how our society is run and not just those who dictate the major corporations and institutions – these may be why he is gaining so much support, despite your attacks

    • Phil T Tipp

      Blah blah bleh whinge jesus christ stop it. Your moaning, threadbare and chippy class-war, student politics monologue was so boring my eyeballs almost dried up and fell out and rolled across the floor attracting fluff until they came to rest, like hairy soft-boiled eggs, under the sideboard.

      p.s.: It’s ‘peddle’ you mong.

      • Frank P

        Ha.

      • Don’t call him jesus christ, you’ll only encourage him.

    • Knives_and_Faux

      Maureen of York would like to know why Corbin’s political development, fashion sense and rhetoric stalled in 1980.

    • The_greyhound

      A classic demonstration of the dangers of manustupration.

      • Sanctimony

        An exquisite word for onanism…

    • Sanctimony

      Continue pedal your Vacuous hostile sentiments…. ???

  • Gergiev

    Rod you are spending to much time within the commentairat bubble: outside in the RW hardly anyone has heard of Martin Amins, and even fewer care what he thinks, and the same goes for Comrade Corbyn.

    • Daniel Maris

      Yes, get off your backside, Rod. You should be leading a populist left of centre party to oppose mass immigration, multiculturalism and extreme capitalism.

      • Neil Saunders

        This is exactly what we need.

    • MojaveDon

      I may read one of MA’s novels…….after I finish wiring and plastering the garage.

  • Tony Allwright

    Martin Amis’s article in the Sunday Times was a load of self-aggrandising sanctimonious, utterly pretentious unreadable claptrap, designed solely to boost his own evidently fragile ego.

    • Solage 1386

      All egos are fragile, and often rather brittle. Surrounded by an infinite, uncaring universe, and doomed to eventual oblivion, how could they not be?

  • Sean L

    I’ve never laughed at any writer more than at Martin Amis: brilliant comic timing. Often it’s just the word order, even punctuation. The only one that comes close is Anthony Burgess. But not so much after London Fields. I haven’t read Lionel Asbo – great name! Typical Amis. Couldn’t care less about his political opinions. His old man was quite sound, though.

    • Daniel Maris

      I think Time’s Arrow was by far his best book. The laughs there were rather dark.

  • Zanzi Bar

    Oh what a stellar example of how to fail utterly at being in any way impartial and balanced when discussing complex current political events.
    Journalistic standards and ethics in Britain have taken a very nasty tumble of recent decades.

    • PaD

      Satire?

  • Ron Todd

    Best way to sink a politician is to get people laughing at him not feeling sorry for him. As soon as Miliband unveiled his tombstone I knew he was never going to be PM.

  • Ann odonnell

    If anything is otiose it is this type of ad hom drivel.

    • The_greyhound

      “This” referring to your own posting?

      That would be correct.

  • BoroBoy9

    I saw Amis some time ago at Heathrow. He came into the bar in Terminal 3 and ordered a G&T. He was wearing jeans and a sports coat. In the pocket of the coat was a strategically placed copy of the Telegraph. After his drink arrived he turned to face his audience with a:’ well, people, here I am’ look. I was the only person who recognised him but didn’t let on. He looked deflated as befits an egotistical shortarse.

    • Malcolm Stevas

      I met him briefly, in the public setting of a literary festival, and he didn’t seem at all egotistical, no showing off either to me (we shared a conversation) or in general. Don’t know if his behaviour was typical, of course, but I rather liked him. His height wasn’t something I thought about.

    • post_x_it

      Interesting decision to forgo the pleasures of the first-class lounge, which no doubt he could have accessed. I presume he resents having to pour his own G&T from the open bar.

    • post_x_it

      Interesting decision to forgo the pleasures of the first-class lounge, which no doubt he could have accessed. I presume he resents having to pour his own G&T from the open bar.

    • Solage 1386

      All human beings are egotistical to a greater or lesser degree. They are “programmed” to be so by Nature itself.
      *
      “Certain flaws of character, if displayed to advantage, shine brighter than virtue itself.”
      *
      “Self-interest blinds some, but enlightens others.”

      (La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, 1665)

  • Malcolm Stevas

    Leaving aside less interesting considerations such as alleged snobbery, I’m struck by Rod L’s claim that Amis jr “is a far better novelist than his dad”. Can’t claim to have read all of MA’s works but I like them only patchily; I’ve certainly read all KA’s novels, much of his poetry, his collected letters, various articles – more than once, in fact I read my favourite KA novels over and over again. “I Want It Now” e.g. filled with clever observation, social satire, wit, the usual superior writing…
    I don’t read MA’s novels more than once – except his first, The Rachel Papers, which probably embarrasses him somewhat now as his juvenilia but it’s very funny and clever.
    Kingsley Amis was one of the best British 20thC novelists – certainly in the top 10. His son is a good, clever writer – but not a great one.
    I’d be interested to hear more from Rod Liddle about exactly why he thinks so highly of Martin’s work.

    • Jack_H

      I think”I want it now’is one of the funniest books ever written about London,I think it is astounding how it has been out of print for so long,just thinking about the book makes me chuckle.

      • Malcolm Stevas

        Yes, Ronnie Appleyard and Bill Hamer are great creations, testament to some careful observation & research in the TV world. Lovely satire on the super-rich too – Amis has a go at them in other novels too.

        • Jack_H

          I only ever read”Money”,it started well then seemed to run out of steam so I never bothered with any of MA’s other novels.I have always suspected that Will self was trying to ape KA and Hunter Thompson but just couldn’t pull it off.He lacked KA’s sense of humour and Thompson’s madness.

          • Daniel Maris

            Yep, Self is a critic, not a novelist.

          • Jack_H

            Really?Sweet Smell of Psychosis was a critic of what exactly?

    • John Bindon

      I agree. I think Kingsley was a much better novelist than Martin, at least on the strength of his first few books, as I found his last three or four to be pretty poor. I don’t agree with Rod about Martin’s virtues (or lack of) as a journalist either as “Experience” (maybe not “journalism”, I suppose, but certainly not a novel) is a superb book. I do agree about the very unfortunate use of the phrase “under educated” though,and would like to think the Martin Amis of thirty or forty years ago would never have employed it.

      • Malcolm Stevas

        I too have a lot of time for “Experience”, the best non-fiction I’ve read by MA. Already said I enjoy “The Rachel Papers” but although bits of “Dead Babies” are shockingly funny, his later e.g. “The Pregnant Widow” is odd, pointless, formless. KA a bit variable but always worth reading – just started to re-read yet again “Lucky Jim”…

      • Daniel Maris

        Agreed.

        Kingsley Amis said he was undereducated compared with his father and that his children would be undereducated compared with him! 🙂 I think M Amis has a serious complex about the matter because of his underachievement as a teenager. It was only his stepmother’s intervention that got him back on track. In other words, he had “help from his mum” .

    • Daniel Maris

      Comparing late Amis Senior with early Amis Junior, that might be true. But early Amis Senior beats Amis Junior hands down. For my money, Lucky Jim remains in the top ten of funniest books ever. Also interesting that originally it appeared Amis would be the poet and Larkin the novelist (he wrote two v. good novels – but then ran out of puff).

      • Malcolm Stevas

        I have both “Jill” and “A Girl In Winter”, worth reading but IMO not in Amis’s league. Yes, Larkin ran out of puff… To add to your “interesting” it is the case that Amis’s first novel was rejected, and died the death. “Lucky Jim” was his second attempt.

      • I don’t think Larkin ‘ran out of puff’; I think he decided that the novel was not the place where he would excel. Larkin was very status-minded, I believe.

        • Daniel Maris

          From the Wikipedia Larkin entry, referring to his attempts at novel writing after his first two books were published: “Subsequently he made at least three concerted attempts at writing a third novel, but none went further than a solid start.” So it wasn’t a career move.

          • We agree: I was trying to describe the motivation behind the fact.

          • Daniel Maris

            Well I agree there’s room to agree! 🙂

    • Solage 1386

      Have you read Rod’s ‘Selfish Whining Monkeys’? It is a masterpiece of lyrical prose, though its metaphysical speculations can occasionally, in my opinion, be rather convoluted.

  • dramocles

    In my experience its perfectly possible to have a quite illuminating political conversation with an agglomeration of plumbers and roadsweepers and sparkies and terrifying chaps on (from) building sites.

    • Daniel Maris

      It’s true. Most of them are intelligent enough. They simply don’t like books and the discipline of learning in an academic fashion. People like plumbers, electricians, taxi drivers and so on also get to see a much wider range of our population than do most academics – they have a better understanding of how people live in reality.

      • In my experience, Daniel, the vast majority of people that don’t like books are either thick or ill-informed or both.

        • David

          Not true, some people read papers a lot, or listen to the radio, some people are talkers and end up learning something new from each person they meet. Many people who read books read trashy novels that are worthless.

          • I did say ‘the vast majority’ and I’m sticking by that. There is a depth of knowledge and discourse available in good books — and especially in great books — that is not available in newspapers or radio. Most people that meet me would not learn much of value from a discussion of gardening or the weather but might learn a great deal from my upcoming book about love relationships.

          • Daniel Maris

            Well I am not sure about your assertions, especially now in the internet age.

            I think that 100 years ago, books had the market cornered in terms of intellectual experience. But since then we have seen many developments in communication which mean you can have a very deep and subtle understanding of the world through films, TV, radio, recorded music and now the internet.

          • Recorded music?!

          • CRSM

            As Umberto Eco wrote: “books speak of other books”.

          • And of life.

          • HegemonyMakesYourBlind

            Most books are written by egotistical introverts who barely leave the house and can tell you nothing.

        • Daniel Maris

          No. I simply don’t accept that. You can be intelligent (I define that as able to analyse and make sense of complex data) and be well informed without having a love of books.

          • Fine. I’ve never met a single person that fits your description.

      • Kennybhoy

        Those first two sentences sound like something Martin Amis might have written…

        Hi Maister M, long time! 🙂

      • Nick

        Good post sir.

      • Solage 1386

        I was brought up on a rough council estate, stopped going to school at 12, left home at 16, worked as a prostitute for several years, didn’t start working till I was 27, and have since been employed only in typical working-class jobs. Yet I love books! I have several thousand of them in my apartment, ranging from Aristotle to Petrarch to Montaigne to Schopenhauer to Woolf, Sartre, Genet, Mishima and all points in between. I am also particularly fond of listening to 14th Century ballades, rondeaux and virelais, which I often play on my bleedin’ harp. So stick in a sock in it and shut your cakehole!

        • Andrew Morgan

          phoney? working class people from rough council estates dont live in “apartments”

          • Solage 1386

            This one does, my dear. When I was on the game one of my clients, a wealthy German furrier, bought it for me. The wages of sin, indeed. Both of my brothers were coal-miners in Wales, the Land of Song, and my old man was a rag and bone man. So there you go. Time for another pink gin. Cheers.

        • That’s lovely. If I were being catty, I’d ask whether you understand any of them.

          My mother thinks she can read. But her definition of ‘reading’ is ‘deciphering the letters to make words’.

          • Solage 1386

            One unfortunately understands all, much to one’s dismay, as there is much that one would prefer not to know. Nothing at all is beyond the comprehension of Man. No concept is beyond, or above, or incapable of being conceived of, or perceived by, Man’s intellect. Every possible metaphysical speculation and philosophical Truth is capable of being apprehended by the mind of Man. Man’s mind is the only means, as far as we know, by which the universe can become consciously aware of its own existence. One gained this insight when one worked as a toilet-cleaner in an office block in WC2 many years ago, as one poured Domestos into the gaping abyss of a gleaming toilet in the women’s bogs……time for another pink gin, cheers!……which seemed somehow at the time to symbolise the whole universe itself. Such insight as this is assuredly capable of driving one clean around the bend……
            *
            “The biggest disadvantage of a penetrating intellect is not failure to reach the goal, but of going beyond it.”
            (La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, 1665)

          • Thank god you got out of the women’s lav!

          • Solage 1386

            I was thrown out…..

          • Great! Some of the best opportunities in life look like rejections.

          • Sanctimony

            “However high a man sits, he still sits on his own fundament….” Montaigne…

            (“Et auplus élevé trône du monde, si ne sommes assis que sur notre cul).

          • CRSM

            Ouch!

          • {Guilty titter]

        • Daniel Maris

          You should pause to study philosophy. If I had claimed working class people who like books don’t like books, that would have been illogical. I didn’t claim that. V. pleased you have a love of books.

      • Sanctimony

        You have a very valid point… I was recently dragooned into attending a hideously pretentious drinks party in a currently popular region in the shires and, while listening to some ghastly, simpering Sloaney old bat I was asked if I knew Hermione Fullon-Fawcett, who happened to be my wife and to which I replied that I had no knowledge of her…

        “Oh, good,” she replied, “she’s married to the most ghastly drunk, who shuns our company preferring to mix with all the drunks and criminals in the Dog and Duck.”

        “Hermione,” I said, to my wife who was standing nearby, ” Venetia here has some riveting views that might intrigue you.”

        • Daniel Maris

          Is that Waugh? Sounds like him! 🙂

          • Sanctimony

            I wish… although I do know his grandson, Alexander…

    • Solage 1386

      After having worked as a transvestite prostitute for several years in my teens, then as a brick-layer, then as a road-sweeper (whistling while I worked) I have often been told that my conversational skills are quite illuminating.

      • Sanctimony

        How fascinating….

    • Kieron Russell

      …If you can get past the Polish accent.

  • PaD

    Spot on again Rod..Amis and Schama probably discuss these things in some italianate nook in Marthas Vineyard…

    • Sanctimony

      In Mykonos, more likely….

  • Fenman

    Snobbish but true! Rod don’t you remember how thick people who achieved 2 xEs were,and how they always seemed the keenest on out of date Marxism,because they could manage to understand it but we’re not capable of seeing through it!s fallacies, not least it’s disastrous economics?

    • Daniel Maris

      You can’t have it both ways. At the same time we’re told just about every academic from Oxford and Cambridge is a Marxist – and they will be stuffed full of double firsts and PhDs!

      Talking of which, I was amused to see those TV historians on Pointless Celebrities recently. It was amazing how little they knew about history! They obviously mug up for their programmes just like everyone else does for exams.

    • John

      They may be thick, but at least they would know not to use apostrophes in the wrong places…

      • Fenman

        Out of date, John,perfectly acceptable to-day.

        • CRSM

          No, ignorance at your level is never acceptable.

  • Noa

    A slow week for an idea Rod? This piece simply drivels on about Amis, who was chundering on about Corbyn. D- I’m afraid.

    • I learned both ‘chunder’ and ‘chunter’ relatively recently, and I can’t use either because one is too much like the other!

      • Solage 1386

        How fascinating.

        • Just a comment: I’m not asking you to ‘buy the book’.

          • Solage 1386

            What book? Selfish Whining Monkeys? I already have a copy, thank you very much. It has pride of place in my library, and has been positioned on the same shelf as Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and some of Barbara Cartland’s late, more difficult, works. May I confess that these are the only books I have ever attempted to read which I have been quite unable to understand due to the utter complexity of their contents? I suspect that many other readers will have encountered the same difficulty as I. At least, I would like to think so. Still, it is better to know one’s limits.

      • Sanctimony

        You & Bazza Mck’ Would get along famously….

  • Avanti

    I met Martin Amis on some occasions in the ’70’s, before his first successful novel “The Rachael Papers” was published. At that time he had already written a book that was a warning against the failings and dangers of Communism. I was surprised at the topic as I thought that had been dealt with much earlier by George Orwell and unsurprisingly this first book generated no interest in that era.
    I realize looking back on it that it was very common to meet wealthy middle class “Fabians”, who professed socialist values, without knowing or understanding the working class of that time. They were also typically hypocritical, for example, discreetly sending their children to private prep. schools before sending them State Secondary Schools, then crammers pre-University, sharing insider trading tips, stashing their offshore earnings in tax havens, whilst preaching the rigid and unthinking dogmas of Socialism. That would have made them feel that they had the Moral high ground over anyone such as Martin Amis, who questioned those dogmas. Martin Amis argued against these Fabian types, (typical of Corbyn), and although he seemed a bit out of step in the ’70’s, he has been consistent in his opposition of them and even if he did not know the working class proles, he did know very well the Champagne Socialists of the 70’s.

  • Until I read the headline, I thought this was an Ugly Mug competition.

  • Hegelman

    Amis is only too right that Corbyn is appallingly stupid
    in some ways.

    But that has nothing to do with his supposed lack of formal
    university education. He shows himself well-read and highly intelligent
    in many of his interviews.

    He does incredibly good interviews with people like Andrew Marr where
    he comes across as the epitome of genial good sense and beautifully
    spoken English. He is a gifted man.

    Alas, he is lopsided in his intelligence. He is unbelievably clumsy
    and mutton headed when it comes to any situation where he has to comply
    with the conventional ideas of patriotism. It never occurs to him that
    failing to sing the national anthem in public is insane as it can lose
    the Labour Party millions of voters. He does not see that a friendly
    meeting with the queen and a happy filmed interlude with the palace
    corgis would defeat all Tory attempts to paint him as a terrorist
    sympathising alien.

    But very clever radicals can be idiotic like this. Trotsky was
    defeated by Stalin partly because he could not adjust quickly to the
    mood of Soviet patriotism that developed in Russia in the 1920s. Yet he
    was one of the cleverest persons ever born.

    Luckily for the Tories Corbyn has nothing like the political insight
    and flexibility of, for instance, Churchill or Hitler. Corbyn does not
    know how to make new friends fast and how to make terms quickly with old
    enemies for his own purposes. Churchill after a lifetime of being the
    world’s most virulent anti-Bolshevik joined hands with Stalin to defeat
    Hitler. Corbyn is unable it seems even to sing the national anthem in
    public or to show eagerness to meet the queen for the purpose of
    defeating the Tories. He agonises over whether he can bring himself to
    sport a red poppy or a white tie. Hitler had none of these childish
    hangups. When he became popular he ceased to be the scruffy street
    agitator: he moved into a posh apartment and began to dress smartly. He
    hobnobbed with all the great ones of German high society as if he had
    never done anything else. He won over snobbish President Hindenburg. The
    latter had sworn he would not even offer Hitler, that “Bohemian
    corporal”, a postman’s job, yet Hitler coaxed Hindenburg into appointing
    him Chancellor of Germany !

    Corbyn cannot even imagine doing this kind of strategic networking
    and charming of adversaries and high society. He is doomed to fade away
    in his ghetto with his accustomed radical crew and his Palestinians.

    • The_greyhound

      You keep posting this apologetic tripe about the odious anti-Semitic clown. It doesn’t make any of it any more true. corbyn remains an unpleasant supporter of the worst enemies of this country, a useless, incompetent and thick dotard who smells of urine.

      • Sanctimony

        I’ll take it that you got close enough to sniff him… you poor sod !

      • Hegelman

        I won’t reply to your post. I do not see any point in arguing with imbeciles. My own post is there for all to see. It is critical of Corbyn, albeit nuanced.

        • To be fair, Greyhound is no imbecile.

          • Andrew Tucker

            Are you reading what I’m reading? He’s a mega-imbecile.

  • jim

    This piece is more about Amis than Corbyn and I don’t really care what Amis thinks.I enjoy his islamo-bashing but I’m constantly reminded he represents a type that can take a fair amount of the blame for the mess we’re in…..him and his good mate C.Hitchens….He’s right about us plebs though…..and I had to google that quote.

    • John Bindon

      How has Hitchens contributed to the “mess we are in”?

      • jim

        He was a trot…they shaped the culture we are saddled with today…let’s not even bother to mention his pimping himself out to the neo-cons after 911..At least Amis now has no illusions concerning islam. There was a a lot of daylight between Hitch and Amis on the subject of islam by the end . But back in the seventies they helped demonize the healthy scepticism that might have slowed down the multi-culti , mass immigration death wish . They personify the liberal radical chic of those days.

        • John Bindon

          Hitchens was one of the strongest critics of Islam imaginable. And he hardly “pimped himself out”. He merely changed some of his views, hardly unique and hardly a crime.

          • jim

            Hitch sat in The Green Zone and pretty much c*apped all over those who were warning about the mess unfolding in Iraq.He mocked and rubbished all opposition.That’s what he was good at and that is what he will be remembered for. As a trot who helped cheerlead the US into Iraq it is obvious the man was wrong about the major issues of his day…..Yes ,he was critical of islam, but he seemed to want it both ways. A true islamosceptic would acknowledge the futility of attempting to democratize moslem countries and would oppose moslem immigration. He ended up having a go at his old mate Amis near the end because he felt Amis was overboard in his antipathy to Islam. Then Hitch became ill and the row was averted. I always thought Amis was overly deferential to Hitch. He took a b*tchslappin’ off him.

        • Sanctimony

          Tom Wolfe should be persuaded to write another Radical Chic Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers… with this twerp in mind….

          • Daniel Maris

            Tom Wolfe is top ten.

          • Sanctimony

            Try telling that to Norman Mailer or John Updike….

  • Solage 1386

    I dislike underdogs, despite being one myself. I would much prefer hotdogs, with ketchup.

  • tjamesjones

    Kingsley is great – v funny and light. Martin is a ponderous bore.

  • Sanctimony

    Why is it that every time I see Martin Amis I begin to itch and start scratching furiously… he may have a sublime intellect, but he is one seriously scrofulous creep…. and pint-sized into the bargain… although I’m told that he appears slighter taller when he’s standing on his wallet….

    • Malcolm Stevas

      This is unnecessarily personal. I wonder what you have against him. Scrofulous? Hardly. He’s civilised and well turned out. And neither is he a dwarf: I wonder further why so many seem concerned by his being slightly shorter than average.

      • Yes: surely shortness is not a moral failing. I’m 5’2″ myself, and don’t consider myself less worthy a human because of it.

        • CRSM

          Yes, but you’re female: it’s allowed 🙂

          • Why thank you. I haven’t always been sure that it is : )

      • Sanctimony

        Apologies for offending you… short men generally tend to have chips
        on their shoulders and try a bit hard to be assertive…. I have both
        bantams and larger fowls at home and it is always the bantam cockerels
        who strut their stuff… we have one called Amis and another called
        Bercow…

        The larger cockerels tend to be less assertive, obnoxious and loud…..

        • Malcolm Stevas

          You didn’t offend me. I didn’t find Amis to be the way you describe him.

    • Cornelius Bonkers

      Yes, I feel the same. And all that stuff about his teeth; who cares? As for his intellect, well, I think it’s somewhat pedestrian. Having said that, it’s probably me that’s the idiot as I can find very little of interest in his non-fiction; and as for his fiction – king’s new clothes I think…

  • NickG

    My wife — a Tory

    This must create a certain frisson during coitus.

  • pre-teen internationalism
    Perfect! This is why I never talk politics with any family except for my mother-in-law (who is also, not coincidentally, the only one that has heard the name Leo Strauss). My dad is as daily-competent and super-efficient as they come — he was a high-level engineer — but when it comes to politics his class resentments kick in and he becomes Comrade Dad, inhabiting a LaLa land of ludicrosity.

    • Cornelius Bonkers

      Yo Calli, But there’s a good reason for your Papps strange reversion to class warrior. Politics is not and cannot be a science so the authority of folk like Strauss (a so-called political “scientist” for those who know nothing of him) is always questionable. Surely, politics is merely OPINION and ACTION so come on now be a bit more generous to the ole Papps. Regards…

      • Callipygian

        Yo Bonkers. Strauss was a political philosopher on the Socratic model, if you like. Politics may be opinion but the study of those opinions is not itself opinion-based: that’s because it’s philosophy (love of wisdom, love of truth). There is opinion, and then there is fact. To the extent that there is a fact-value distinction, facts can still be known about values. There IS such a thing as political judgement and such a thing as prudence. Paps is wrong. Cheers, Calli

        • Cornelius Bonkers

          Yo Calli, You say philosopher I say scientist mmm! Yes of course there IS political judgement but judgement remains opinion (doxa) whereas science is knowledge (episteme). I see your point but your Papps’ political judgement is as valid as yours in the objective sense (which doesn’t exist). Best regards…

          • It’s not ‘as valid’ because it’s based on wrong premises governed by poor reasoning. We needn’t drag doxa into this to see that.

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            Woops! “wrong premises”? You’ll need to say what “they” are and why they are wrong. I hope you don’t mind me saying this Calli but you’re beginning to sound somewhat Stalinist, i.e., as if your ole Papps is “in error” as the French left and the Jesuits used to (and apparently still do) say…

          • Why are you so afraid of error? Why do you suppose that to reject false understanding is to relish the thought of sadism? What a funny chap you are!

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            I’m afraid Calli that “false/correct understanding” in political matters has little relationship to facts as understood in science. You seem to be saying that it’s possible for you and your Papps to disagree, e.g., on Jeremy Corbyn, and only one of you to be correct in accordance with the facts – much as Galileo was correct about the cannonballs’ rate of descent when he threw them over the edge of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The attempts of Marxism (as we are discussing Corbz) to transform political philosophy into political science takes politics beyond Socratic dialogue and into the realm of ideological objectivity – hence the Leninist/Bolshevik tendency to justify its crimes as punishments for falls into error (as does Islam and did medieval Christianity). I may be a funny chap, but I fear it’s you who has a problem with your premises. Best regards…

          • I find your assumptions with regards to me not only unfounded in the extreme but offensive in their implications. There’s no ‘best regards’ about them. Cheerio.

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            No offence intended Calli. Best regards nonetheless…

  • Abie Vee

    He’s such a charmer that liddle Rod. Schoolboy jibes and raspberries blown off-stage. You can’t help but dislike him. And he gets PAID for this!? Good grief.

    • Malcolm Stevas

      Pots and kettles, me old Lefty: your own record of kneejerk jibes, schoolboyish and otherwise, undermines you.

      • Abie Vee

        Look to the beam in thine own eye.

        • Malcolm Stevas

          Goodness, we could swap old saws all day…

    • Sunshine Sux

      just go away already you tiresome lonely old bat

      • Abie Vee

        Actually I’m just orf aht. Meeting up with a beautiful old-flame in Camden. I’m looking forward to a great weekend. Lonely my arz. If only you knew.

    • P_S_W

      And yet you fail to see that he is talking about stemming the incessant tide of vitriol towards your glorious leader. I thought you’d be pleased with that at least.

    • Cornelius Bonkers

      Someone has to get paid for giving us a good larf in a good cause. Democracy demands opposition Someone has to resist mass censorship – Rod, Delingpole, Murray, and Scruton don’t add up to much in the total sum of resistance to the grand scheme of political correct stupidity

  • boiledcabbage

    ok, deal with the big. Britain has been in decline since at least 1946, maybe 1915. Mis-managed, in most years, by ineffective Governments that, in most years, failed to stem the tide. Corbyn is absolutely 100% the next in line for the baleful, dubious position of English PM, to take the decline to a new low – and who knows? the FINAL low…..

    • Cornelius Bonkers

      OK Cabbage, but Britain is still the 6th biggest economy in the world and the place those who lack civilised existence want to come to…decline?

      • mightymark

        5th actually. Quite why so many on both right and left have to run the country down in order to emphasise their particular political gripes is beyond me. Does this happen in other countries?

        • Cornelius Bonkers

          Thanks for the correction. Yes, left and right seem not to have much faith in Britain. But I suppose this is because the term “right” is nothing of the kind. Small c conservatism WOULD be different but has no presence in the democratic process. Nationalism, common law, territorial autonomy are dirty words; hence Merkel’s catastrophic miscalculation over immigration – she’s toast…but so are we…

        • Cobbett

          How much f it is debt?

      • victor67

        I thought that was Germany.

        • Cornelius Bonkers

          OK, but I didn’t say the ONLY destination…

      • mikewaller

        It may be the 6th biggest but it is far lower down in terms of per capita wealth, and that is what counts

        • Cornelius Bonkers

          Ok Mike, but “that is what counts” to whom? and why? I expect your viewpoint depends on which version of economic “science” you reference…

  • Mr B J Mann

    Does Amis, or Liddle, know what a hawk is?

    Could they tell a cross-cut saw from a rip-saw?!

    • Dave Roberts

      I can, it depends how the teeth are set. You just can’t get a good saw doctor nowadays!

      • Mr B J Mann

        I was just flying a kite.

    • CRSM

      A tool that plasterers use.

      • Mr B J Mann

        You both got the right answers (well, actually, it’s not so much the set, but the cutting edges that differentiate the saws), but neither of you can tell your Amis from your Liddle!;-)

    • mikewaller

      I have just found this on the internet which suggests that hand-saws don’t really figure at all. Methinks that Liddle’s use of the quotation unsourced, betokens something of the same intellectual snobbery of which he accuses Amis. More generously, perhaps he believes all his readers have the same easy familiarity with Hamlet as does he.

      “Handsaw is probably a corruption for heronsaw, hernsaw. In some dialects of England harnsa is used, and it is but a step from this to handsaw. The meaning generally given to this passage is, that birds generally fly with the wind, and, when the wind is northerly, the sun dazzles the hunter’s eye, and he is scarcely able to distinguish one bird from another. If the wind is southerly, the bird flies in that direction, and his back is to the sun, and he can easily know a hawk from a handsaw. When the wind is north-north-west, which occurs about ten o’clock in the morning, the hunter’s eye, the bird, and the sun, would be in a direct line, and with the sun thus in his eye he would not at all be able to distinguish a hawk from a handsaw.”

  • Lina R

    Surely Amis’s ‘under-educated’ jibe is aimed at someone of Corbyn’s class (middle class) who is privately educated but still underachieves at school. Corbyn seems reasonably intelligent but it is surprising how anyone can get to middle age and beyond and still hold such an adolescent view of the world.

  • mikewaller

    Liddle vs. Amis is just an inconsequential spat between two intellectuals. The most telling observation regarding Corbyn made in the Spectator since he has become party leader was a point made of Alexander Chancellor. He reminded us that had it not been for the chance event of the Falklands War, Margret Thatcher would probably have lost have the 1983 election. In my view mistakenly, the majority of the British electorate had hitherto taken the view that her policies were unnecessarily harsh. Whether that would have resulted in Michael Foot being PM, who knows; but it does underline the sheer stupidity of policies such as the tax credit fiasco and continually buying pensioner votes whilst leaving the young swinging in the wind. The very able Martin Vander Weyer is quietly warning us that something pretty awful is probably on the economic horizon; giving substance to the so far vacuous claims that “we are all in this together” is absolutely vital if democracy is to continue producing governments with sound economic policies.

    • Johnnydub

      Martin Vander Weyer is not wroing. There is another financial disaster looming. We may not know the tipping point, but you can bet your bottom dollar another one is coming, and the real issue is the current global economy is in a poor state and hasn’t really recovered from the last one.

      • mikewaller

        What has been at the back of my mind for over 20 years is a Harvard investigation of the number of new industrial workers who would in future be competing against developed industrialised economies. In the 1990s they reckoned the figure to be about 90 Million. They estimated that the equivalent figure for the 2030s would be about 1.2 billion! Given modern levels of productivity, that would be far more people capable of making things than the world’s total purchasing power could possibly absorb. I have horrible feeling that is state of affairs the consequences of which we are starting to experience.

    • Seawolf

      Ambrose Pritchard in the Telegraph says he will eat his hat if something pretty awful is probably on the horizon.

      • mikewaller

        I am put in mind of a very similar remark made by a former head of BP when asked if it was likely any oil would be found in the North Sea. The context was the need to reach some understanding with Norway regarding territorial waters when these were pushed out to 200 miles. We had two possibilities: a straightforward mid-point or seeking to apply the continental shelf argument that Russia is now relying upon to claim the lion’s share of the Arctic. Had we gone for the latter, we would have been laying claim to the sea-bed right up to the Norwegian Trench, which is very close to Norway. Had that claim succeeded, our and Norway’s economic histories would have been very different. However, the man from BP told the government that if there were more than 3 teaspoons of oil in the North Sea, he would eat his hat. Whether he ever did, I know not!.

  • Mesmero

    These ad-hominem attacks against Corbyn continue to fill column-inches and I have no idea why, other than the sneaking suspicion that they substitute for well-thought out counter-arguments against his positions; perhaps that is simply too difficult for most of his opponents.
    In terms of education you are only as good as your last trick anyhow, how much of the content of their university courses could the vast majority of graduates can remember 40 years after the fact?

    • chazwyman

      Today the big head line was the JC brushed away the phone of a reporter. Obviously this will cause the complete failure of western civilisation.

  • Frank

    Corbyn is all that you have described, but he is authentic to himself. That is what is resonating with the public.
    The problem the public has with the senior tories and Lib-Dems is that none of them appear remotely authentic.
    It explains why people like Boris, he is a messy shagger, probably tells fibs, probably deranged, etc, but he is authentic – even in his crude ambition.
    Ditto Nigel Farage, virtually everyone can relate to him.
    Compare and contrast to David Cameron, George Osborne, Jeremy Hunt, etc, etc.

    • kingkevin3

      He resonates with the juveniles and under 21s perhaps, but for the rest he is poorly educated with very little experience of the real world…he hasn’t even spent time abroad. The guy is simply put…a joke.

      • Frank

        I agree, but then Cameron is a barmaid’s idea of a gentleman! The difference is that Corbyn (poor deluded sausage) does at least come across as authentic and until the other major politicians succeed in coming across as authentic (Farage already does), they will continue to face the Corbyns/Brands/etc of this world.

      • chazwyman

        Nope. The majority of the new membership of the Labour Party are 50+.

  • johnb1945

    The article is entirely correct. Corbyn can make mileage from the perceived elitism of his detractors. People who are fed up of the country being run by people who aren’t “like them”.

    Doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, perception is the only thing which matters.

    I read another article in the DT by Angela Epstein describing Corbyn as “thick”.

    Unwise. Most people feel the political elites (wrongly) consider them to be thick.

    • rtj1211

      What did a PPE degree from Oxford bring to the table for Britain?

      It brings you the ability to go to a lap dancing club and decide whether you think the pole dancers are sexy or not. To get a ticket to Lords to watch the Ashes.

      Does it give you the ability to go in to the middle and bat?? The balls to buy a hooker and shag the a**e off her??

      Well does it??

      I wonder how many RAF pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain were ‘too thick to serve Britain’, eh? You wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes up there if you were thick. I bet you not one of them had a PPE degree from Oxford.

      How many of those fawning windbags in the HOC have shown they can actually answer the public’s questions cogently without reverting to party spin?? Almost none.

      So much for their intelligence……

      • johnb1945

        Well, quite.

        Corbyn may have some fruit loop views, but as an apparently thick man of the people he is sublime.

  • Hippograd

    We should be pleased that one of our greatest novelists deigns to involve himself in politics…

    One of? Apart from Will Self, who comes near Marty?

    • I reach for my Browning

      Not Will Self, for a start.

      • Hippograd

        That Self is far below Amis as a writer is an amazing achievement. It reminds me of Les Patterson’s line about being so low that he “can parachute out of a snake’s arsehole.”

    • chazwyman

      Amis is nothing but a Yellow Dog, and needs to be put down like the rabid dog he is.

  • OscarJones

    Congratulations to the media especially those on the hyperventilating right.
    You have made Jeremy Corbyn the lost famous politician in the land with publicity no PR firm could possibly match.

    • hepworth

      Perhaps they will resort to the effective measures that killed of the BNP and don’t report on him at all?
      (They did their best with UKIP though and failed miserably).

  • Eques

    There’s a very good reason why Liddell, in this piece, is forced to confine himself to the sort of unpleasant personal attack he is criticising. Why he claims corbyn is such a disaster without providing any supporting arguments: Because if he attempted to attack corbyn on policy rather than alleged breath quality he would stand revealed to himself and others as the reactionary he in fact is rather than the labourite he so fondly imagines himself to be.

    • Adrian Drummond

      “Why he claims corbyn is such a disaster without providing any supporting arguments”

      I think Mr Liddle’s intention, here, was to write an article, not a book.

  • Mark

    Gosh, such a vacuous self-congratulatory piece – where schoolyard snobbery is raised to the level of institutionalised complacency: “‘weedy, nervy and thrifty’, and the sensible people avoided them like the plague.”

    Sensible people make superficial judgments about people based on their physical appearance? Sensible people create a wall between themselves and other human beings on the basis of ‘not being in the in-crowd’? Sounds like exactly the kind of ‘old-school tie’ nonsense and snobbery that this country’s ordinary folk are completely fed up with.

    But you are right to realise it will backfire when it comes to Corbyn. You can argue his politics, but you cannot argue his sincerity. Not only that, but his politics become far more compelling when you realise that you simply cannot dismiss it as the ravings of a ‘loony lefty’. Sadly, that has ever been the case, where the establishment has insulated itself against the concerns of real people by harking on about the need for political spin for absolutely every single shred of political life.

    • William_Brown

      Hey…Mark….Over there….that’s the point….see it?….see it now?…..Oh, oh, oh…Bah! you missed it!

      • Mark

        William…a bit vague…lost you in the mist… Try Morse?

  • chazwyman

    The gravy, and other miscellaneous bits of food bestrewn upon Rod’s clothing are not going to protect him. He’s not amiable, even with his passing resemblance to Boris. Amis, Liddle and people like them can spew their vitriol, but people know that JC is one of the few last respectable men in the UK

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