The good news, for those still paying good money to read the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, is that Allison Pearson is away (whether this is with or without the fairies is not told). The bad news is that her temporary replacement is self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Brewer, talking mainly about Herself Personally Now.
Under the heading “The Left can’t stomach the Right’s right to disagree”, she tells readers “A YouGov poll of 820 academics for the Policy Exchange think tank has found that nearly a third of those with political views on the right - and more than a quarter of Brexiteers - are too fearful to openly view their opinions at work”. Gosh! And there’s more.
“The most bizarre finding was that, while 86 per cent of the academics said they would be comfortable sitting next to a Remain supporter at lunch, only 54 per cent could stomach eating lunch next to a Leave voter”. And, so what? Is there a point to this? Sadly, there is.
Ms Hartley Dooda then goes on to invent an encounter with a cameraman on the set of The Andy Marr Show™. But there is a serious problem with her column, dated as it is the 5th of August. Because the previous day - the article is timestamped 1100 hours - Jonathan Portes of King’s Collage London had written about the poll for the Guardian.
“According to a report from the think tank Policy Exchange, Academic Freedom in the UK, pro-Brexit and rightwing academics are being ‘forced to hide their views’. The report cites a YouGov poll of 820 academics, which found that 32% of those who identify their political views as ‘right’ or ‘fairly right’ have ‘stopped openly airing opinions in teaching and research’” he told. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however …HERE for instance.
Portes adds this chilling aside: “Perhaps the thought police really are stalking the corridors of the ivory tower - but they aren’t the same people that the Policy Exchange report identifies. It turns out that academic freedom is only good when your views are defined as acceptable by a right wing think tank with close links to Downing Street”.
Not only did Julia Hartley Dooda get suckered by a dodgy poll, she managed to miss its authoritarian undercurrent. Which makes her journalism fail that much worse.