Zelo Street has previously discussed the body known as the Pundit Establishment, those who are most regularly called upon by press and broadcast media to give their suitably learned views on a range of subjects on which, by inference, they claim, as the old Frost Report sketch might have put it, a feeling of superiority over them. One such establishment pundit is an FT columnist by the name of Janan Ganesh.
Ganesh has co-written a book on “Compassionate Conservatism”, a contradiction in terms if ever there was one, and a biography of the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, The Austerity Chancellor. He regularly appears on the panel of the BBC’s Sunday Politics. He has a presence on social media. And he may even rank as high as any in Rome. But his sense of entitlement has now led him astray.
Clearly, Janan Ganesh is not a supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, nor someone with any time for Jezza’s followers. So it was that he took to Twitter yesterday morning and, under no pressure at all, informed the world “You can do analysis of Corbyn and his ‘movement’ (I have done it) but the essence of the whole thing is that they are just thick as pigshit”. The subject was, apparently, Traingate.
What analysis might this have been? Ah, but we mere mortals are not let into The Great Man’s confidence. All we can deduce is that his conclusions, given the “thick as pigshit” appellation, will have been suitably adverse, and, hopefully for his sake, rather more intellectually uplifting. We can also deduce that Ganesh felt sufficiently chastened by resistance to his product that he deleted the Tweet.
Sadly, having been published long enough to have garnered 670 Retweets and 1,082 Likes, the offending Tweet had also been cached, and so can be seen in all its glory, whatever the wishes of its author. Perhaps Ganesh would be further chastened, and sufficiently to show some sign of regret. He might even say … sorry.
But that is to reckon without the mindset of the Pundit Establishment: from their perches of entitlement, they need only look down on The Great Unwashed, not lower themselves to moving among them. So it was that Ganesh excused himself by Tweeting “Please excuse the trigger-happy tweet about Corbyn/ites. The train farrago didn't warrant it. No return for British Rail though, pls”. So that’s all right, then, is it?
Well, no it isn’t. Sneering that those of different opinion are as a result “thick as pigshit” gets us nowhere, coarsens and devalues political discourse, and ultimately gives readers and viewers yet less confidence in the ability of the pundit doing the coarsening. It would have cost Ganesh nothing to simply hold up his hands and apologise. That he has chosen not to tells you all you need to know about the attitude of the Pundit Establishment.
And the inevitable conclusion is that this attitude is not good enough.