After its Christmas break, The Andy Marr Show (tm) was back on air today, with the paper review once again playing host to the overrated and flagrantly dishonest Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator magazine, nowadays a repository of right-wing ranting, contrarian whataboutery, rank Islamophobia, and other assorted bigotry. The magazine still gives a regular berth to snooty and obnoxious anti-Semite Taki Theodoracopulos.
Also in attendance, in an effort to provide some balance, was Guardian veteran Polly Toynbee. And as Ms Toynbee is a favourite hate figure of the right, watching intently was Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog. For both him and Nelson, the priority was to take the heat off the loathsome Toby Young, who was bound to feature as he had made the Mail on Sunday front page.
The combination of spin, selectivity and dishonesty drove the Fawkes massive to claim fraudulently in the retelling that “Fraser Burns Polly”, going on to gush adoringly “Zinger from Fraser Nelson as Polly Toynbee went after Toby Young’s record on free schools”. And what form would this “zinger” have taken, Fawkes folks?
“Polly: ‘He wanted to create a school for his kids’ … Fraser: ‘Yes, it’s better than sending them private like some columnists I could mention’ … Remember Polly sent two of her children private. Zing”. We are not zung. And this is not difficult to explain.
However many of her children Ms Toynbee sent to private school, the whole cost of that exercise was paid for by her family. No state intervention was required. It was a choice freely made and an agreement freely entered into. It wasn’t that way with Tobes.
The cost of setting up the West London Free School - Young’s way of not having to shell out four sets of school fees - was around £25 million. That, Fawkes and Spectator folks, is £25 million of taxpayers’ money - our money. Anyone believing that is a superior solution to actually paying school fees is not dealing from a full deck.
Panto (oh no he doesn't)
In fact, what Ms Toynbee did was doubly superior to Tobes’ cop-out: as well as paying school fees, she continued to pay her taxes in this country - unlike Paul Staines, and indeed unlike Fraser Nelson’s ultimate bosses, the Barclay Brothers - and so was doing the exchequer a favour by not putting on the Government to pay her education bills.
Blowing £25 million just to avoid four sets of school fees, on the other hand, is appallingly selfish, inconsiderate, and utterly unprincipled. So it’s no surprise that Fraser Nelson thinks it’s “better than sending them private”, and the sneering creep Wickham actually believes the stance is credible enough to be worth defending.
And guess who claimed he did? Milk, no sugar again, eh Alex?
If anyone wanted to see the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the right-leaning punditerati encapsulated in one teachable moment, that part of the Marr Show paper review, together with the fawning Fawkes apologia, was it.
Memo to the Fawkes rabble and their pals: before you claim to have a zinger, just make sure you actually have one. Because this time you haven’t. Another fine mess.