From Monkeyfish: My Life on cif. Not really…more a list of what’s pissing me off lately
I’m in premod now for the sixth or seventh time; unfortunately, I don’t keep a log of these episodes or indeed a record of deleted posts and I doubt anybody else does. This fact, together with the restriction on discussion of moderation, especially premoderation, means that it’s hard to put together any firm evidence for the recent deterioration in CIF’s standards regarding freedom of expression. A lack of any statistical data and my present state of moderate inebriation (and the spliff I just smoked-in remission kizbot) are why this is unlikely be the definitive narrative on this subject.
An absence of hard evidence or acknowledgements of a policy shift notwithstanding, it doesn’t require a Kremlinologist and I don’t feel I’m out on a limb in stating: moderation has changed; deletions and premods are increasing; it affects some people more than others; and it is having a detrimental effect on the level of discussion and debate. For my own part, there’s been no change of tone or content likely to breach the talk policy. On the contrary, I think I’ve even started to self-censor due to an increased awareness of the potential consequences. This has reached such a level that I now find the restriction (albeit ‘self-imposed’ ha ha) intolerable.
After my third stint of detention I happened to ask Hank Scorpio how he seemed to avoid premod . This was a morning following one of Hank’s (presumably booze addled) abuse fests which resulted in whole swathes of deletions. As I recall, he told me he had been premodded once or twice,kizbot admitted to one and martillo chipped in that his copybook was as yet unblotted. All this over the course of many, many months; presumably years in some cases. Naturally all these posts were immediately disappeared and I got an instant threatening email. Contrast this with the current state of play.Factor in Jay Reilly’s and Scherfig’s recent experiences and by any objective measure: ‘Houston we have a problem’. Question is…why? What’s happened…and here, I must admit: I’m stumped.
It would be tempting to think that it was all part of some insidious, Nulabour, control-freak crackdown on sedition. The GMG’s reliance on public sector advertisements leave it wide open to such influence However, over the same period that this situation has developed, any number of cabinet ministers have graced CIF only to hung out to dry by posters protesting their incompetence, hypocrisy, flip-flopping and arrogance. Presumably then, the change of policy was a wholly internal initiative. Whereas the likes of Blears and Blunkett have been ridiculed, Toynbee, sacred cow of the pontificariat, has been wrapped in cotton wool within a protective Kevlar pod whence she is free to spout random, fatuous advice at will.
Naturally, any question of her suitability as a commentator or the pharisaic lack of self awareness is deemed a vexatious irrelevance and instantly ruled out of bounds. This, of course, is a courtesy which is extended to others provided they’re inside the charmed circle. Presumably if Marie Antoinette were a friend of Seaton’s and she deigned to submit a piece on frugal catering, the only relevant sort of criticism would be, say, over the brand of dogfood used in the meatloaf, rather than the more pertinent “Who the fuck do you think you are? …etc etc “. Problem is: it’s always entirely germane to question the authority of the writer. In any other profession or any other sphere, it would be considered a rank dereliction of the actuality to suffer such sanctimonious claptrap without challenging both the quality of the argument and the credentials of the source.
So why the change…and why now?One obvious answer is that there are undoubtedly rocky, uncertain times ahead. Maybe the Guardian has decided that whatever may result, whatever shake ups and make ups, its credibility must not be impugned. Clearly it sees itself above reproach; keeper of the true flame of the left-liberal consensus. It no doubt draws inspiration from across the Atlantic where the East Coast liberal elite, bete noir of loony Republican, Evangelical nutjobs is roundly vilified as the root of all evil. Transposing the analogy, any criticism it receives can be brushed off as emanating from wilfully ignorant, great unwashed, lumpen trash. Unfortunately, the analogy doesn’t remotely pan out.Far too many it seems fail to recognise any semblance of a coherent, left wing strain in the Guardian’s output. The criticism they can’t stand, can’t cope with, just can’t countenance comes from the left. And it fuckin well freaks them out.
An example. Bea Campbell, soi disant Feminist Marxist ( hmmm), opining on the miners strike: no mention that it was the great watershed for the working classes in this country; virtually wiped them out as a political force. Why mention that when the a new feminist “it was the wimmin wot held things together” narrative could be introduced? Identity politics ( GMG’s take on the role of the left)wins the day yet again. Now, undoubtedly, women played a huge part but, from a left wing perspective, surely the destruction of working class political identity, the last vestiges of class solidarity and the triumph of naked self interested individualism should trump the identity hand. So I mention this and….guess what?
Pissed off? Yes I was.
Now the other thing that gets my piss boiling is the way this metropolitan, media mafia protects its own. Other than wanton alliteration, nothing makes me madder. Consider the Myerson and Gogarty sagas. Two instances when the sordid, media underbelly of patronage and nepotism were briefly exposed. Gogartygate was priceless. The lengths they went to cover it up, justify it and shift the emphasis to try and turn it into a tale of mob hysteria and bullying rather than actually state: “Yes, he’s one of us cos his dad’s in the loop and so he has earned his place at the trough”. Then Myerson: Seaton’s finest hour. “Actually, they’re friends of mine”…and I commissioned her to write for me when I wrote the parenting section…so read the book” I know this is a bit of a hobbyhorse of mine but, mention nepotism at the Guardian….guess what? Suggest that some inane piece of crap by Jemima this or Toby that only made the grade because daddy’s such and such or is best mate’s with such a body and…guess what…90% of the time you’re on the money because guess where your post ends up?
Tell you what: imply that a small incestuous, closed-circle of friends, family and acquaintances gradually populating the whole of Opionville might not be the best thing for openness, democracy or free speech and…guess what? As for Seth fuckin Freedman, I’ve given up. How many years, how many articles, how many thousands of words does it take to say: there’s two sides to this story and maybe the children will sort it out? Oops, I’ve answered my own question: one friggin sentence. Try mentioning this…guess what?
Oh well I’ve got to stop now because this is getting repetitive and I really could keep this up indefinitely. Seems what pisses me off about CIF is just about all of it at the moment. Well, apart from that little sex-bomb Bidisha. Sometimes, I dream of what my life might have been. Me and Biddy, holed up in a Tuscan hideaway, taking potshots at the Patriarchy between chugs of Chianti and rampant jungle sex. Then I look in the mirror. Washed up…broken… forced into exile. If only I’d heeded Matt Seaton’s warnings: “If you’ve got nothing nice to say…don’t say anything at all”. Fuckin Left Liberal my arse-the guy’s a Victorian Paterfamilias and CIF’s turning into Pravda.
But again…why the change…I still can’t come up with an answer. Best I can do…dinner party…Seaton, Toynbee, Ashley, Williams, Whittaker sitting around a table…coke long snorted, brandy a distant memory…working their way through the 10 year old sherry, Crème de Menthe and Cointreau remnants…finally Seaton caves in, slurring badly: “Yeah fuck it Pol…you’re right…the ignorant fuckers have gone to far…no more Mr Nice Guy…they either toe the line or they’re fuckin brown bread”
Toynbee, stroking a purringwhite Persian cat nestled snugly in her lap: “ I knew you’d come around Matt…ever been to Tuscany?”