Thursday, 23 November 2017

The stupidest newspaper column I've read this year

As all regular readers will have realised, my Sunday morning read (and much of the rest of the week) is the Sunday Times. I glance at the Sport section, especially David Walsh's column and try to help Mrs H with the crosswords (my contribution is usually very limited) before turning to the politics and economics. Notwithstanding my interest in the latter two topics, I think the world feels a better place when the talk is of Lennon rather than Lenin.

Jeremy Clarkson normally has a column on the inside back page of the main paper. It's usually irreverently funny. But last week (12 November) I saw the name Jeremy at the top of one of the main comment pages, where Adam Boulton (the Sky dude) normally has a column. Crikey, they've given Clarkson a political platform, I thought, this should be interesting! But, d'oh!! The byline was Jeremy CORBYN, not Clarkson. I resolved to read it later, as it would probably make me laugh, but not in the same way as Clarkson.

The Corbyn column was, of course, worthy, unrealistic and dull. It called on Theresa May to sort out the Brexit shambles or move over for someone who would. Eh? Labour hasn't said what it wants to see beyond a transition period of, effectively, no change. Because the party is at least as deeply split as the Tories on that point. So dull and hypocritical. A Clarkson column on Brexit (he was a strong Remain supporter incidentally) would at least have been entertaining.

However, the Corbyn column wasn't the stupidest thing in the newspaper that day, not by a long way. Under the heading "Suicide clinics a preserve of the middle class" Sarah-Kate Templeton picked up on a report by Dignity in Dying, a group campaigning for the law to be changed to allow assisted dying in Britain. She wrote:

"The report, How the UK Outsources Death to Dignitas, finds that an assisted death at Lifecircle or Dignitas, the best known Swiss assisted dying clinic, is not available to all British people who want it. The average cost of an assisted death is is £10,000 and most people cannot afford it. The report finds a lottery in the co-operation on offer from doctors, with some refusing to talk about an assisted death while others discreetly help to plan it.

Dignity in Dying says the administrative process of arranging an assisted suicide overseas can be difficult. Obtaining the necessary paperwork by navigating the bureaucratic systems 'requires knowledge and skills that favour the sharp-elbowed middle class'."

Good grief. I could have believed seeing tosh like this in, say, the hand-wringing, anti-aspirational, prizes for everyone Guardian. But in a Times group paper? One doesn't really know where to start with such incoherent, class warrior tripe.

Setting aside that, at £10k, the cost is only around three times that of an everyday funeral, does the reporter agree with the implication in the report that applying for assisted suicide, something that is currently illegal in this country, should be eligible for means-tested benefits? Does she think that relatives from social classes D and E should have the euthanasia equivalent of free parenting classes? Pressure groups like Dignity in Dying clearly do believe that but a reporter worth her salt would "call out" (to use the current phrase) those putting forward such nonsense.

For the record, I could be convinced to support a law change on assisted dying, though I think it will prove too difficult for the politicians to navigate the moral mazes involved, so I don't expect it to happen anytime soon. But, class warrior Sarah-Kate. I can't resist an entirely inappropriate dig at the hyphenated forename, though it makes a change, I suppose. Just don't expect to get a gig writing for the business pages any time soon. And if you ever get to write the leader column I'm cancelling my subscription.


  1. Two comments Phil. Your analysis of Corbyn is spot on. A reinvented 1970's class war popularist who will flatter to deceive if ever I saw one.

    On Assisted Dying, I'm fully signed up to it. Ridiculous that in this day and age we can't, should we wish to, decide when and where we die. This latter subject is where I and many other Liberals fell out with our previous and otherwise excellent Leader Tim Farron. His religion was sadly his barrier to him being a real Liberal Radical.

  2. I am in favour of assisted dying but I don't think there is an easy solution to avoiding the risk of some families pressuring their elderly relatives to do the deed to get hands on money or just have an easier life. That's why I think it won't progess to the staute book. After all, they're finding it difficult to agree on drafting a bill to say "EU - we're out". My point was more the nonsense of saying assisted dying is the preserve of the middle and upper classes. There are lots of things, legal and illegal, that are beyond many people's pockets. Like my taste for vintage champagne.....