I think I’m not going to listen to Radio4 any more. Not news or current affairs, anyway. Saturday morning and I’m eating half a pink grapefruit while I wait for the mushroom & parmesan omelette to transform itself magically from stuff in a pan to yum and there’s a piece on living standards. Someone else has written a report about the British economy, such as it is. The report says it’s basically shagged, that consumers, in the new parlance ‘people at the bottom’ have seen their wages decline in real terms, meaning that they might have had a pay rise but things cost more so they’ve actually got less.
Even before the substance of the report you notice how the discussion has changed. Ordinary people who buy things in shops are now called ‘people at the bottom.’ Which obviously implies there are people at the top. So what do they buy? Do they go to Waitrose instead of Asda? Maybe. They probably send someone to do it for them though. Do they buy two jars of marmalade instead of one? No, but they probably don’t get the Asda value one for 49p. When they want a new pair of shoes, do they buy four hundred pairs instead of one, given that they earn four hundred times as much? Er, well, actually…..
Obviously, even the most infantile trickle down supporter wouldn’t claim this is what happened, even though that’s the basis of the entire post 1980’s economy – if the rich get more they’ll give it to other people, because it’s a well-known economic fact that rich people got rich by spending lots of money.
Except it isn’t but never mind. We don’t do facts anymore, as the two experts on Radio Four proved. Why is all this happening? It’s yer immigrants, innit, said one.
It would have been nicer if that’s what he actually said, but he used a voice like mine and we don’t speak or sound like that. We speak clearly and authoritatively and quite often people listen to what we say, because what we say sounds like the truth. The snag is it’s just our voices. That’s what they’re like. Sometimes they make people believe things that just aren’t true and do things they don’t want to do, because they think they have to. But it’s just our voices. That’s how it works. Ask any Springer spaniel.
The other expert politely told him that what he was saying was bollocks, but she made a basic error in bothering to be polite instead of simply telling him not to talk shit. She asked him for any evidence that what he said was true, that the massively growing inequality between ‘people at the top’ and everyone else was down to immigrants.
Which was where she lost, as she should have known she would because we don’t do facts any more. He didn’t have any evidence, he said. But he felt that was true. Game over.
Exactly like Blair and Iraq, exactly like Brown and any statistics, exactly like Ian Duncan Smith and his ideas about the feckless, fraudulent, workshy poor, or ‘anybody on benefits’ to use the current shorthand, we don’t do facts any more. We do feelings. Apparently all you have to do now is feel something is true and because we’re all so sensitive and perceptive and mindful these days, it’s sacrilege to contradict them. Feelings are sacred. If anyone even attempts to say your feelings are in total contradiction of facts they simply aren’t going to be invited back on the programme. Like the Greens. Who needs them and their facts on the radio every morning?
Rude, you see. Very, very rude. Don’t know how to behave in public. Lunatic fringe. If they want to behave like that then there’s Speakers Corner every Sunday. Real people, the kind we want telling us all what to do, they feel things. And that’s much more important than knowing anything real. I blame the immigrants, meself.