Peculiar silence at the Eye


I got my Private Eye last night, and found it most curious. Regular readers will be aware of the Cohen-Hari-Wheen-David T catfight, and I was expecting to come across some kind of follow-up. Did I? No, not a word.

I see from Johann that one of his mates has sent a letter to the Eye giving off about the Hackwatch hatchet-job. This doesn’t appear, but then again it may not have been sent in time for the current issue. [Update 31.08.07: It also appears to have been taken off Johann’s site.] Not only that, but there isn’t any sign of Decency anywhere in the mag, which leads me to worry about Francis – is he ill, or on holiday? Street of Shame contains no attacks on Hari, nor any puff pieces for Nick Cohen, Stephen Pollard or Harry’s Place. There is no Ratbiter column. There isn’t, as far as I can see, a single attack on Gorgeous George in the entire magazine. There isn’t even the ritual sniping at Douglas Hurd over Bosnia, which we normally get at least every three or four issues.

(This last is a little-remarked piece of Decent historiography, but an important one – Francis has trotted it out on several occasions, and Nick devotes a whole chapter of What’s Left? to it. The reasoning goes something like this – lots of Muslims are angry at the British government, but even though they say they’re angry about Iraq, this can’t be true because nobody could oppose the war in good faith. Therefore, whatever they think they’re angry about, they must really be angry at Hurd and Major for not bombing Serbia 15 years ago. This is usually accompanied by some bollocks about the “pro-Serbian left”.)

Anyhoo, returning to the Eye, I don’t know quite what to make of this. Will the next Eye have a Hackwatch on Nick, or even better, the ludicrous Mr Kampf? Will Ratbiter give up the MCB and the Bangladeshi Jamaat as a bad job, and start writing about, say, the sizeable nest of al-Qaeda operatives currently resident around Zenica in Bosnia? Will we start seeing articles about Ken Livingstone that don’t include the word “appeasement”?

I wouldn’t lay money on it. But I’m hoping the Eye staff are cottoning on that there isn’t much percentage in being the funny wing of Decency. And that might mean that, while you can’t stop Francis pursuing his personal hobbyhorses, cutting and pasting from Harry’s Place while shielding the Apostles of Decency from a well-deserved pisstake does not necessarily make for good reading. If the venerable Chris Booker can’t get away with devoting six pages an issue to bashing the EU, why should we get the analogue from an upstart like Francis?


  1. ejh said,

    August 30, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Something I meant to say about the Eye in the comments to the previous piece on the subject: for all that’s problematic about it, it doesn’t have a business agenda. It’s not close to the City and nor does it have the automatic reflex, among people who are doing well (or on the make) in free-market societies, that private=good and public=bad. For this reason it’s been able to cover PFI in different parts of the magazine for a long time in a way that other publications, with rather fewer conservatives involved, have not.

  2. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 30, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    That’s quite true. And it’s been consistently good on education. A lot depends on the correspondents and sources of course. The Eye on Ireland for example has varied from the reasonable to the terrible to the idiotic.

    But if we’re being nice about the Eye, can I mention that the TV review is usually excellent?

  3. ejh said,

    August 31, 2007 at 8:20 am

    I can’t find the letter from Johann’s mate. Is it there somewhere?

  4. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 31, 2007 at 9:06 am

    Strange. It was on Johann’s site yesterday, but it seems to have vanished. This gets curiouser and curiouser.

  5. ejh said,

    August 31, 2007 at 10:04 am

    You can’t tell us who the friend was?

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 31, 2007 at 11:29 am

    I have no idea… Johann just referenced him as “a mate”.

  7. Phil said,

    September 2, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    whatever they think they’re angry about, they must really be angry at Hurd and Major for not bombing Serbia 15 years ago.

    Opposing the lifting of the arms embargo on Bosnia, to be more precise.

  8. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 3, 2007 at 9:18 am

    IIRC one of the earliest advocates of air strikes was Ken Livingstone… which puts Francis and Nick’s sniping at him in some perspective.

  9. ejh said,

    September 4, 2007 at 7:39 am

    Now my copy has arrived….

    ….I don’t suppose it’s just that Wheen is on holiday or something?

    The other possibility (or another possibility) is that as the last piece specifically accused Hari of saying something that wasn’t true, he’s demanded a retraction and they’re having a little think about it.

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