Rod Liddle

Are the ‘village idiots’ right about Brexit?

11 May 2019

9:00 AM

11 May 2019

9:00 AM

The former BBC presenter Gavin Esler has very kindly given us an insight into how BBC people think (had we been in much doubt). Esler, who is now standing for election as a member of the hilarious Change UK party, said the following: ‘TV news must stop giving airtime to the “village idiots” of Brexit — the dubious right-wing supposed “thinktanks” and pseudo-experts among ERG MPs who simply haven’t a clue what the implications of Brexit truly are.’

Remarkable, no? The ‘village idiots’ of Brexit are people who support Brexit. That’s a lot more idiots than there are villages, Gavin. This clown wishes the BBC to discriminate against people who are in favour of Brexit and stock the airwaves with people who are opposed to it. Nobody who is opposed to it is an idiot, everybody who is in favour of it is. Esler’s view is common among that fairly large tranche (about 35 per cent) of absolutist Remainers who, appalled at being transgressed by the referendum result, have hunkered down inside their lager, castigating all those who favour Brexit as thick, uneducated, northern Untermensch — even the thinktanks and the MPs. It is also, beyond all question, the default position of all BBC news and current affairs programmes, without exception.

A few weeks ago another former BBC staffer, Mark Damazer, wrote much the same thing — so far as one could discern through the mangled syntax — for Prospect magazine. Mark, like Gavin, is a charming and personable chap. Mark, like Gavin, glided from public school to university, then to the BBC and now back to university. Mark is Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford, while Gavin (who went to a less posh public school) is Chancellor of the University of Kent. That is what happens to senior BBC employees once Auntie has spat them out like a noisome owl pellet: they get given attractive sinecures at universities. Mark was once the deputy head of BBC News, in which role he summoned programme editors to his office to lecture them about the need to be impartial during the forthcoming American presidential election.


I know, because I was there. And we sat there in a circle facing Mark, listening to his effusions, our eyes occasionally wandering to the wall behind his desk where he’d put up lots of posters. ‘Vote Democrat’ and ‘Vote Paul Simon’ and ‘Vote Kennedy’ — loads of US election posters, every one of them urging a vote for the Democrats. He was facing us, away from the posters, so probably didn’t get the irony.

Mark and Gavin: you have to feel for them. They have spent their entire lives immersed in liberal echo chambers and it has severely stunted their intellects and their curiosity, as well as imbuing them with that kind of fascistic streak whereby opinions that differ from their own should not be heard. Like the BBC, they are magnificently detached from the people who once gave them a living by paying their licence fees. On the plus side, they will probably be very popular at their universities, where there is a great appetite among the woke student body and the professors for censoring freedom of speech. And they will thus remain in an echo chamber until they die, having learned nothing — and it is quite possible that their bodies will not rot in the ground, as happens to most of us: they will remain intact and pristine and charming, aloof from decay.

You would need to be utterly divorced from reality to believe that the broadcast media gives too much time to the pro–Brexit cause. Blinded by your upbringing and the blank unanimity among your peers, both at work and over the dinner — sorry, supper — tables. The facts tell a different story. The Institute of Economic Affairs produced a study that I’ve mentioned here before, which showed that in the year following the referendum, 68 per cent of panellists on Question Time and Any Questions? were pro-Remain. But perhaps we should take no notice of the IEA, because they are a ‘dodgy right-wing thinktank’. Six months after the referendum, 72 MPs from across the parties tabled a motion condemning the BBC for its relentless bias on the issue of Brexit. But I suppose they can be ignored because several of their number were affiliates of the European Research Group. All village idiots, then, morons, unwashed and foul. Far better to put your trust in pro-Remain Treasury and IMF reports into what would happen in the first six months if we were stupid enough to vote Leave: houses worthless, recession, unemployment up, investment fleeing, legions of huge mutant zombie crabs stalking the country ripping the heads off your children and pissing down their necks.

None of which actually happened. The reverse happened. Unemployment down. No recession. No fall in house prices. No giant mutant zombie crabs either, so far as I am aware, although I have not visited Wales recently. Do both Mark and Gavin not find it alarming that rather often the village idiots are right and the ‘real experts’, i.e. those on their side, horribly wrong? Do they not understand that each side has skin in the game — or do they cleave to the BBC’s asinine Reality Check, in which one individual is the sole repository of truth for the whole of mankind? Sitting in his little cubicle in new Broadcasting House, reading a couple of reports and then adjudicating for the good of us all?

Those of us who voted Leave should console ourselves that Gavin’s approach — the sheer insulting arrogance of it — was not tremendously successful during the referendum campaign. But then we might also accept that they have won, in the end. We’re not getting Brexit, are we? We’re getting what these insulated people wanted us to get all along, because they are an elite which could not bear to be transgressed. They will have their way.

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