Back in September I suggested that "whataboutery is pretty much all that enthusiasts for Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party have to offer".Outrageous that Corbyn goes to a Stop the War dinner - he should go to dinners held by arms dealers and offshore bankers like a proper MP.— Mark Steel (@mrmarksteel) December 11, 2015
Certainly that trope is alive and well amongst them, judging by the number of times this has been retweeted into my timeline.
The truth, of course, is that it is perfectly possible to believe Corbyn is wrong to hang out with apologists for Putin and Assad and to believe it is wrong for MPs to allows themselves to be wined and dined by arms dealers and offshore bankers.
Still, whataboutery does represent a new departure for Mark Steel. In the past he has relied solely upon polytoynbeeism:
Mark Steel has based a whole stand up and journalistic career on this trick. His every column or routine runs in essence: "So the Tories say X do they? I expect they say Y and Z too!" And everyone laughs.
They laugh because this technique is a form of political group grooming. It reminds you how generous and sensible you and your allies are, and how cruel and stupid your opponents are.But then Steel had to broaden his range when he left the SWP in 2008 (but was kept on by Radio 4 even so). For, as Harry's Blog pointed out at the time:
Given that Mark Steel's comedy routine consists of reciting the editorials from last week's Socialist Worker in a "blokey" voice, I wonder what he'll do for material in the future.So well done Mark. Maybe your comic repertoire will be so broad one day that you will be able to come out against fascists and semi-fascists like Assad and Putin.