Have I Got News For You. A great show, wonderful to see it recorded as I did yesterday. What’s not so great is hearing the idiotic opinions of Louise Mensch given more airtime than is necessary. Mensch is weird. She sometimes shows flashes of being an interesting, spiky MP. Her select committee stuff, her ‘rocknroll’ past, her complete objection to the death penalty (remember she’s a Tory). But then you see stuff that just means you have to scream: STOOGE!! Y’know, when she trots out the Tory Central line about Labour’s Legacy (great health spending, more people going to uni, Human Rights Act, LGBT equality, positive relationship with Europe), that Cameron’s a real leader, that tackling the deficit justifies the destruction of whole communities.
And at the Have I Got News For You recording (on your mystical corner box of light today, the 21st October 2001) it was the stooginess (new word claimed by moi, referring to act of being a party stooge) that shone through, especially with her complete dismissal of anyone protesting capitalism if they lived within capitalist rules. The Occupy St Pauls campaign was highlighted. Mensch clearly completely disagrees with them (though it would seem the HIGNFY cast and audience completely disagree with her), and of course there is nothing wrong with that, but it seemed also that she was dismissing their right to protest because they live in the UK. Drink Starbucks coffee? Well, screw you if you think you have a valid opinion about excessive profit and unfettered capitalism. Bought a tent? Well, shut the fuck up about a consumer driven economy; you’re just as bad.
What is annoying about Mensch’s argument (which I suspect is shared by many Tories) is that it serves to disenfranchise entire opinions, schools of thought, political views, by saying that those critiquing the environment around them should be ignored because they live in the environment around them. If I drive a car, I can’t criticise petrol companies price policies. If I buy a takeaway coffee, I can’t campaign for fair trade bean production. If I use a laptop/netbook/iPhone/iPad (etc etc etc) then I’m banned from suggesting that we’re an excessively consumerist society.
Her argument is, of course, bollocks. From my perspective, It is the very fact and experience of our capitalist economy over the last 30 years which, though serving me very well in many cases, makes me realise that much of it is ridiculously excessive and in major need of review, reform, realignment. Although, since I’m writing this in an iPad, drinking freshly ground coffee and listening to Radio 4 you can – in the Mensch world of argument – just ignore me.
But then, maybe she was just having a laugh. It is a comedy show after all.