Politics Magazine

Paxman, Nick Clegg and Hypocrisy

Posted on the 08 November 2013 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

When Russell Brand called for a “socialist revolution”, I was rather annoyed. The celebrity, who does not enjoy an entirely spotless reputation, has little about his lifestyle and actions that strikes me as socialist. I won’t go into painstaking detail, but your typical socialist (particularly not the revolutionary socialist he claims to be) is not a misogynistic multimillionaire. Socialist millionaires spend a lot of time using their money fairly and feeling faintly guilty. Nevertheless, it was Brand’s open admission that he is a non-voter that was most controversial.

Jeremy Paxman, the famously bold presenter of the BBC’s Newsnight programme, attacked Brand, saying

“If you can’t be arsed to vote,
why should we be arsed to listen to your
political point of view?”

A very good, if strongly worded, point. One should always vote in any election, for public apathy always kills democracy off very gradually but effectively. But unfortunately, Paxman was speaking from a glasshouse, as he later conceded to the Radio Times magazine:

The whole greenbench pantomime in Westminster looks a remote and self important echo chamber. But it is all we have. By the time the polls had closed [in 2010] and it was too late to take part, I was feeling really uncomfortable: the person who chooses not to vote – cannot even be bothered to write ‘none of the above’ on a ballot paper – disqualifies himself from passing any comment at all.

Paxman regrets having not voted in the last general election, saying that although he found the major parties’ offers “unappetising” (which I can understand: 2010 was a hard year in politics), that was no excuse for neglecting his moral obligation to vote. Frankly, I knew it all along: with that new beard of his, he would be a non-voter, wouldn’t he?

Anyhow, who would be the first to criticize this act of brazen hypocrisy? Step forward… Nick Clegg. The Deputy Prime Minister used his weekly programme on LBC radio to berate Paxman, adding the unique argument that his £1,000,000 salary exists only because of the political proccess. Clegg’s willingness to condemn the scariest journalist in politics might have been encouraged by Paxman’s claim that the Lib Dems’ tuition fee pledge was “the biggest lie in recent political history” or by Clegg’s eagerness to distract the media from his claiming of energy bills on Parliamentary expenses whilst the rest of us endure huge price rises.

Unfortunately, it is the apathy of the disheartened ‘radicals’ and the “unappetised” sceptical voters that allows the likes of Mr Clegg to feel able to attack others for misusing democratic privileges. So remember: if you don’t vote, it’s only you who will be paying the energy bill for the Deputy Prime Minister’s second home.

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