Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Burchill versus Monbiot

I'm not really a fan of the Today programme. Too much heat, not enough light. Burchill versus Monbiot this morning was a case in point. Take one controversialist self-publicist and one self-righteous humourless green, add a healthy dose of class prejudice and stand back.

I've always found Julie Burchill a bit tiresome, and it worries me that the older she gets, the more Bristolian she sounds, despite having left the place decades ago. Does this fate await every exile? Are my declining years to be spent sounding more and more like a member of the Wurzels?

Monbiot, meanwhile, is someone I can claim to have had a minor run in with. Many years ago I invited him to come and speak to a student society. He sounded faintly bored with both me and my request, and dismissively palmed me off on an acquaintance of his, who is nowadays given over to propagating the wildest of fantasies.

So it was mildly diverting to hear these two thrash around the thesis that greenies are posh and preachy. Most commentators seem to think that George won, and he was so enraged he immediately went home and penned a piece for the Guardian.

The sad thing is that George went a very long way to proving Julie right. On the issue of the environment, he's of course absolutely correct, but he's so desperate to be seen to be absolutely correct that he's found himself arguing with someone who is adopting a controversial position for the sake of a controversial position.

In tilting at this particular windmill George was wasting his time (and the BBC was wasting mine, but that's another story) but you got the sense that if someone, anyone, is going to disagree with him, then he isn't going to let it go.

And, sadly, in doing so, he gave credence to Burchill's contention that greens are just posh people who like bossing their inferiors around.

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