I must confess that these days I read Private Eye more out of duty and habit than real pleasure. Certainly, I don’t anticipate its arrival every fortnight the same way I look forward to the latest issue of, say, the American Conservative or the Journal of Forensic Sciences. In fact, it often succeeds in annoying me not inconsiderably. Oh yes.
But the latest issue has picked up a bit. As regular readers will know, one thing that tends to get up my goat is the flagship Street of Shame section. This is where the Eye exposes bad journalism, with a nice little sideline in exposing cronyism in the press. Sadly, it’s been undermined over the last few years by the whole phenomenon of the Decent Left. Concretely, it’s either ignored or actively defended some shocking examples of bad journalism, and it often looks as though this is not unrelated to the perpetrators being mates of the bloke who writes Street of Shame. For instance, the Grauniad‘s infamous faked interview with Chomsky, which wasn’t given the treatment it deserved, I assume because Francis was off signing open letters demanding that the Graun retract its retraction.
But this issue, we finally see an appearance from Nick Cohen, who’s been a frequent beneficiary of this sort of thing. This is apropos of Nick’s inebriated rant at the Orwell Prize, which gets covered in some depth. Now, if only the Eye scribes would make an effort to remember that having a go at targets close to home increases your credibility… I know Ingrams was very aware of that.
We also have regular Decent columnist ‘Ratbiter’, who takes time off from bashing the Mooslims to deal with the question of electoral fraud. In particular, Birmingham, where the combination of postal votes on demand and the patriarchal relationships in the Kashmiri community have created an electoral regime that would make Bob Mugabe blush. Maybe it’s me, but I honestly can’t remember any Decents previously having a problem with this outrage. Possibly it’s because the main beneficiary, as Ratbiter points out, is the Labour Party. Possibly it’s because, as Ratbiter doesn’t point out, one of the main critical voices has been Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob, and because those disenfranchised have been Asian women and youth, who are much more likely to vote Respect. Still, good to see the issue get an airing.
And we also discover that the Kuwaiti royal family have, for a considerable sum, retained the services of Mr Tony Blair. Taken on the back of Mr Tony’s million-dollar bung from the Israelis, you can see why he’s an ideal honest broker for the Middle East peace process.
A return to form, then. Keep it up, guys.