to join the long list of lefties who have set their sights on enemy number one: Nick Clegg. And there was I thinking comedians valued originality.You can read the whole Mitchell piece here.
On top of its tedious lack of creativity, the column is also hopelessly misinformed.
It is feature of modern Britain that we take the political pronouncements terribly seriously. Biting the hand that briefly fed me, I commented on this on the New Statesman in my first New Statesman column:
if you open it today you find that every comedian in the country has a column. And Julian Clary has a big one.
It wasn’t like that in the seventies. The contents page didn‘t read:
Freddie "Parrot-Face" Davies on the future of the Common Market;
Dickie Henderson on the Palestine Question
And coming next week:
Mike and Bernie Winters debate the Bullock Report on Industrial Democracy.Though it has to be admitted that one reason for the reverence towards comedians was the weakness of the opposition parties during the Blair years. For a time Rory Bremner and then Armando Iannucci really were among the government's more telling critics.
As to David Mitchell, I have never taken his political views seriously since I caught one of his appearances as compere of Have I Got News for You. It was the week that Damian Green was arrested over Whitehall leaks and Mitchell implied that he found this funny and pleasing.
When challenged over his attitude by Ian Hislop, Mitchell justified himself by pointing out that Green was a Conservative MP.
I don't believe for a moment that Mitchell really think Conservative MPs should be arrested. What he was doing was affecting the left-wing views that are obligatory in the arts world and doing it unconvincingly because those views do not come naturally to him.
And why should they? Mitchell's education was prep school, public school and Cambridge. His parents were both university lecturers. Why should we expect him to have left-wing views?
I suggest that the real David Mitchell is a far more subtle and interesting person than he allows himself to appear in today's Observer. He can be found in a piece about the Wimbledon tennis tournament he wrote for the Guardian at about the same time that Green's arrest was in the headlines:
And "unthinking adherence" is fundamentally what is both old-fashioned and inspiring about it. Their mission statement, if they were unpleasant enough to have one, would just be: "This is quite simply what we do." It's an example of the English common law approach, Burkean conservatism as opposed to a French revolutionary "start from scratch" strategy: valuing things that have evolved and are fit for purpose in the knowledge that we probably wouldn't be able to make them again.A good rule for all writers - including bloggers - is to say what you really believe, not what you think you ought to believe.
I'm glad to live in a fairly questioning culture and age, but it can be tiring - and it's so relaxing to spend a day in a place where the only question they ask themselves is whether they've maintained their standards, not where those standards came from.