Friday, 20 March 2015

Basic Fairness

Owen Jones writes:

Jeremy Clarkson has millions of fans, in Britain and across the world. His franchise is a cash cow for the BBC. He has one of the  highest salaries in the history of Auntie Beeb. His personal connections  extend to Downing Street itself.

And so the whole Clarkson saga is a test: will the same rules apply to those who are well-connected, highly paid and who have a large personal following as apply to a supermarket shelf-stacker, firefighter or, indeed, a lowly BBC employee?

There is a pervasive sense in modern Britain of “one rule for them, one rule for us”. Here is an opportunity to prove there is some fairness after all.

He’s off again, this time apparently publicly denouncing his employers as “fucking bastards”.

If most of us were accused of punching a colleague to express our displeasure at the lack of a hot meal, as Clarkson allegedly did, we would expect a disciplinary process, that might culminate in a P45.

Abusing our employer in public would make such an outcome a certainty.

Particularly if we had a history of, say, posting tweets of signs inscribed with “gay cunt”, using racist abuse like “slope”, employing the “n” word, and mocking Gordon Brown’s disability and nationality by calling him a “one-eyed Scottish idiot”.

His legion of hardcore fans think this is all “bantz!” and anybody who disagrees is a metropolitan liberal elitist living in an ivory tower made out of copies of the Guardian, muesli and flip-flops.

If they’d spent a chunk of their lives forced to adjust to a barrage of racist or homophobic abuse, they’d probably be less likely to bellow “laaaaaaaaaad” every time Clarkson spews out a bit of casual bigotry.

But (assuming the inquiry finds the latest allegation proven) the case is straightforward.

He assaulted one of his producers. He has a track record of homophobia and racism. He publicly derides his employers while being disciplined. You’d be sacked for that. So why shouldn’t he?

If he does go, his enraged fanbase will turn him into the Joan of Arc of political correctness, persecuted by a pinko-lefty BBC which only otherwise employs crypto-commies like Nick Robinson, Andrew Neil and David Cameron’s current director of communications, Craig Oliver.

It’s all one big lefty vendetta, they’ll say, against somebody who made the crime of not being right-on, ignoring any resentment at being compelled to splash out the licence fee on an overpaid bully with a track record of bigotry.

The Clarkson crew are loud, defiant and will froth at anybody with the temerity to mock their idol. But they are, nonetheless, in the minority.

According to YouGov, 45% think he should be sacked, compared with 36% who want him to keep his job.

And though this privately educated member of the Chipping Norton set is presented as a man of the people against an effete bourgeois elite, there is a clear class division in his support.

Among those graded middle-class, those demanding his dismissal outnumber supporters by 4 percentage points; among those labelled working-class, the gap grows to 17 percentage points.

If Clarkson prevails, the overpaid BBC elite will have defied the wishes of millions of working-class licence fee payers.

But it isn’t about public opinion. Even if most Brits were cheering him on, he should still be sacked.

Neither is it about how much dosh he delivers into the coffers of Auntie Beeb.

It’s about basic fairness.

If he remains, a lesson will be taught that if you are well connected and wealthy, you can do as you please. In the same position, you or I would be sacked, and so should he.


  1. I hate to agree with Owen Jones about anything but he may be right on this.

    We'll see after the inquiry.

    1. He has already publicly insulted his employer.

  2. Difficult one for the left. Strategically, it might be useful to maintain the narrative that there is "one rule for them". As Hitchens affirmed recently, Clarkson is a Guardian reader's vision of a conservative although even this is not 100% true as "Clarkson man" would surely consider the UKIP option. Perhaps Cameron's fear (or even Farage's) is that Clarkson might 'go over'.

  3. Cant blame him for that. After all, his employer is the BBC.