British scene column


February 25, 2018

Tom Draper´s ‘British Scene’ column has occasionally received criticism in the past, so here´s a bit more.
In last week´s column Tom told us with great presumption that: “We´re all agreed that the Daily Mail is a grotty little rag”. That may be an agreed truth in the circles you inhabit, Tom, but it´s not the view of the millions of people who buy the paper or read it online on a regular basis.
I have no idea if Tom is a secret right-wing admirer of Margaret Thatcher or visits Karl Marx´s London grave each week to pay homage to the great man of the Left. However, regular readers of the column will know that Tom permeates his comments about events in the UK with a narrow view of the world subscribed to mainly, but not exclusively, by the Centre Left of current British politics. There are about a dozen general ideas that are obligatory to be ´on message´ in those circles and they are the following.
The European Union is a good thing, while anyone who doesn´t think so is a ´Little Englander´; immigration is a good thing, while anyone who wants controlled immigration to the UK is a racist; people who want the EU to increasingly run the UK´s affairs are ´progressive´, while people who want the UK to run its own affairs are backward-looking xenophobes; Project Fear was an informative, fair campaign, while the Brexit campaign was full of misleading information; Remain voters were from the more sophisticated, well-educated part of the population, while Brexit voters came from the less well-educated part of the population and didn´t know what they were voting for; the Daily Mail and Nigel Farage are both despicable.
I don´t suggest that Tom subscribes exactly to the narrow Centre Left views I have listed above, but anyone who reads the British Scene column regularly will know he doesn´t deviate far from it. That view of the world is shared by very many other people in the UK and here amongst many fellow expats. It´s a perfectly legitimate view, I have no problem with it and, after all, the British Scene column is an opinion piece.
No, my gripe with the column is that, week in and week out, we get the same very narrow ´Left of Centre´ view of what´s happening in the UK instead of a much broader perspective. The result is that the column is becoming increasingly repetitive, predictable and lacking in original thought or insight. There is a whole myriad of progressive views and interpretations of what is fundamentally happening in the UK at the moment, which runs contrary to the ´on message´ interpretation of UK events that Tom confines himself to. Those many other viewpoints and interpretations are equally valid and legitimate. I have two suggestions, which are the following.
My first suggestion is that the column should be retitled ‘The Centre Left view of the British Scene’, or more catchily, ‘A Lefty view of the British Scene’. At least then it would fit the Trades Description Act. That way those readers who don´t want to spend time reading the same formulaic interpretation of UK events yet again can skip reading it and go on to Paul Arnold or Anita Bond´s column, where you can read about a variety of themes and perspectives, original ideas and opinions, and fresh insights. Meanwhile, those readers who like their weekly dose of left-wing thought can happily read it enjoy another infusion.
My second and preferred suggestion is that Tom takes a much broader perspective when writing about the British Scene, that he takes off his blinkers and frees himself from the narrow on-message interpretation of events in the UK, and that he gives us a more insightful, original, wide-ranging and interesting column. At the very least, Tom, spare us any further repetitions of the ‘Daily Mail is a despicable rag’ left-wing mantra.


Read more in this week’s print edition or go to e-paper


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.