By Ben Pensant
Owen Jones is scared. Really scared. So scared, in fact, that a Guardian source tells me he’s stopped sitting down for a piss in solidarity with the sisterhood because he’s terrified Pennywell the clown out of It Came From Outer Space will fly up the u-bend and bite off his tiddler. The source of this fear is, of course, Brexit, that unwanted cultural phenomenon which has caused more middle-class tears than the Waitrose, Liverpool Road kale drought of 2014, an ungodly hour still spoken of in traumatised tones by the few BBC researchers and craft beer entrepreneurs who survived it without shitting their sandals off.
Of course, Owen is keen to point out this is not the fault of the uneducated xenophobes who voted to leave the EU: ‘While millions who voted for Brexit had multiple, complex reasons for their choice, the most bigoted elements of British society decided the referendum presented them with a mandate’. Grim words that will ring true to anyone who’s ever been dismissed as a dumb racist for disagreeing with tolerant liberals like Graham Linehan or Lily Allen.
But this is good bigotry, the kind that’s perfectly acceptable if you went to public school, work for the BBC or owe your entire career to Harry Enfield. It’s the bad bigotry that strikes fear into Owen, the type espoused by football fans and people who eat kebabs. A point Owen clarifies by explaining that the ‘multiple, complex reasons’ he spoke of are basically a hatred of women and brown people: ‘Both the Brexiters and the Trumpists believe their respective countries can be freed from the oppressive yoke of minority rights and feminism’ he laments, as comfortable generalising millions of people he’s never met as he is suggesting their voting preferences are influenced by a fear of middle-class women wearing knitted hats shaped like fannies.
‘The bigots are winning the battle for the country’s future, and that should terrify us all’. And if there’s one subject Owen knows back-to-front, it’s terror. Indeed, fear-mongering is so central to Owen’s work if he were right-wing he’d be urging his readers to check under their beds for radicalised Muslims and frisking Abi Wilkinson every night to make sure there are no refugee rape gangs hiding in her knickers.
But he’s got good reason to be scared and it’s not just because he might have to apply for a visa if he ever fancies moving to the multicultural paradise of Malmo. No, what’s really got Owen chewing his pyjama cord is The Daily Mail. So what have they done? Blamed the Westminster attack on Islam? Celebrated the triggering of Article 50? Printed another offensive column from Katie Hopkins, causing half of social media to report her for hate-crime? Amazingly, they’ve sunk even lower. For last week they offended the entire country by – wait for it – making a lame gag about Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon’s legs.
Yes, this actually happened. And Owen’s not happy, hence ‘The Bigots are on the march – and with ‘Legs-it’ the Daily Mail bears the flag’, in which The Guardian proved it has no truck with the clickbait tactics of its enemies by re-printing the entire Mail front page and cleverly shoehorning both the notorious headline and the name of the paper into the title. All of which guaranteed the type of person who lives to bemoan the Mail’s ghastliness would have it read and re-tweeted before you can say ‘our readers are deserting us quicker than Jeremy Corbyn’s cheerleaders so please give us your money NOW!’.
But god bless Owen for reminding us that women are so fragile they can’t handle a silly headline in a silly newspaper: ‘Across the nation, millions have cringed so hard at its audaciously sexist front page they’ve strained their face muscles’ quipped Owen, unaware that millions also read and forgot it in seconds like they do with most Mail headlines. But that’s because – like pop-stars, strippers and women who get married – most people are too dumb, uncultured and downright working-class to realise they’re being objectified. Which is why we need educated voices like Owen – he’s written books and everything – to protect that half of the population too wounded to read a weak pun without being so traumatised they need to take a month off work and a wheelbarrow full of Valium.
Owen then moved on to lambasting the Mail’s sordid history: ‘It comes to something when this open sewer is still capable of shocking with its stench’. Refreshing words, especially in a newspaper as ideologically fragrant as The Guardian. Thank god Owen’s employers have never printed articles by Stalin apologists or Islamists who support stoning women to death otherwise he’d look like a right cunt.
But make no mistake, it’s not enough to simply ignore or criticise ideas we don’t like. No, we should be petrified of them; constantly on guard in WH Smith lest we’re subjected to a misogynist Sun story about Angela Merkel’s arse: ‘While it should be mocked, parodied, ridiculed, it should terrify us: because it is indicative of what is happening in Brexit Britain’. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Brexit has emboldened racist thugs, it’s also liberated people who think it’s funny to laugh at a politician’s tights.
Then came his deepest cut: ‘It spews out hatred about women, immigrants, Muslims, the NHS, the BBC, comprehensive education, unions, LGBT people and the welfare state’. Understandably, Owen didn’t provide any evidence of this hatred, and frankly he didn’t need to because those who despise the Mail most tend not to read it. But if there’s one thing the modern left do best it’s expressing moral outrage at something we know fuck all about, such as Owen’s specialist subject – Leave voters. See, it’s not the Mail that terrifies Owen: it’s the people who read it:
‘This was a national uprising not just against Brussels, but political correctness, against the conquests made by the anti-racist movement to feminism to trans-rights’. Showing remarkable insight into people he doesn’t know, Owen was clearly inspired by his yearly investigative trips to council estates in which he comes over all Kate Adie; donning fatigues, perfecting his earnest face and posing for selfies with bulbous-headed simpletons who look like they were moulded from corned-beef and set on fire.
But it’s their shameful objection to political correctness that really riles Owen, so much so he’s happy to generalise millions of people he’s never met to put the shits up anyone who naively believes they live in a liberal democracy: ‘The gloves were off, they decided. You’ve had your party, liberal do-gooders, now it’s over and you will pay’ he mocked. Because if there’s one thing Owen truly ‘gets’ it’s retribution, especially as every other column he writes is about getting revenge on some fucker.
Luckily Owen long ago realised that the only people who complain about political correctness are fat ’70s comedians annoyed that they’re not allowed to make jokes about puffs anymore. Because despite what the right-wing press claim, it doesn’t take a degree in Modern Art or Gender Studies to see that PC is a force for good, though it undoubtedly helps. This may be news to the child victims of grooming gangs in Rochdale and Rotherham, for whom PC was a force for allowing grown men to have sex with them. But look closer and it’s clear the widespread abuse of teenagers and subsequent cover-ups made a mockery of the idea that PC inhibits freedom. If anything, the brave decision by councillors to ignore what was happening encouraged freedom, in particular the freedom of Muslim men to rape kids.
Indeed, if these marginalised minorities hadn’t been allowed to explore their sexuality they may well have turned to terrorism. All of which makes you wonder how right-wingers have the nerve to accuse liberals of wanting to create a nanny state. It’s clear who the real libertarians are, and it’s not the ones spitting feathers because a few dozen Muslims exercised their freedom to sexually assault girls from care homes.
Of course, from George Galloway to the IRA, the fact that Owen has spent his career defending some of the most un-PC people in history in no way renders his words as hollow as his claim that hate crime has ‘surged’. As his two-year silence over Venezuela demonstrates, when you know you’re right you don’t need inconveniences like proof to back up your point: the wholesomeness of your ideology is more than enough. Which explains why he reacts to every Islamist attack by predicting a spike in Islamophobic attacks that never arrives and focusing on the hypothetical hurt feelings of Muslims rather than the actual hurt feelings of the victims.
He usually then issues a dire warning about the EDL’s masterplan to brainwash the British public by holding sparsely attended rallies in rain-swept carparks. Because while the racists and neo-cons stoke up the non-existent danger of Islamist ‘terrorism’ Owen knows the real threat comes from a tiny street movement so riddled with knuckle-draggers its own founding member left. But make no mistake: the far-right are on the rise, the EDL’s post-Brexit growth so rapid their next demo is predicted to be so popular they’ve hired a burger van. As Jeff Goldberg said in Jurassic World: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
All of which should give you a clue about Owen’s biggest fear (or should I say fourth biggest, after black dogs, Frankenstein and getting sand in his eyes). Because what really terrifies Owen is The Real World, that ominous wasteland that exists outside of Twitter, Facebook and N1. And who can blame him? In The Real World most Brexiters aren’t snarling racists, the majority of Remain voters accepted the referendum result and 99% of women neither give two fucks about The Daily Mail nor need Owen Jones to tell them they should be outraged about it. But who wants to live in a world like that? Far more satisfying to reside in The Imaginary World where the streets teem with violent bigots and millions are deeply offended by a lame pun about a politicians’ legs. Owen’s made himself a comfortable life in this made-up safe haven and he’s going nowhere.
Unfortunately, Owen has a lot more to fear than Leave voters, Nicola Sturgeon’s thighs and the thought of his mam putting red sauce ON his fish-fingers rather than NEXT to them. Because what should really worry him is what will happen in 2020 after Saint Jezza becomes St Prezza. And yes, I know he’ll be Prime Minister and not President. But once he’s abolished the Royal Family – and when I say ‘abolished’ I mean ‘shot’ – we’ll be a republic so we’ll have a President, like what America does. I think. Either way, when it comes to Owen Jones, well-intentioned articles criticising the Mail won’t be enough to forgive his betrayal of the Dear Leader.
Until then, the best Owen can hope is that his previous good form is taken into account and JC shows a bit of leniency by only hanging him once. But make no mistake, OJ: if you think Brexit, The Daily Mail and Theresa May’s legs are terrifying just wait ’til St Jezza takes the iron throne.
You ain’t seen nothing yet.