Ad hominem, ad infinitum

14 Jul

In his death throes, Boris turned yesterday’s PMQs into even more of a pantomime as he unleashed his Inbetweeners-style silly verbals on Keir Starmer. Serious questions were batted away with a brio of non sequitur and ad hominem. Answering questions truthfully and succinctly has become redundant; Punch and Judy is all.

I confess that I giggled like a naughty schoolboy at BoJo’s snide taunt of Starmer. ’Captain Crasherooney Snoozefest,’ he jibed. Pure panto but politics it ain’t. Or is this the level we expect? It’s not wit, it is farce; not incisive, merely evasive.

Social media encourages half-wits to slag off others without engaging in discussion respectfully. Adopt a point of view (perhaps unquestioningly), stick to it – and viciously attack anyone who demurs. The result? The majority retreat to silence and the more extreme minority fill the space. Moderation and compromise become even more abstract nouns. Too often the more genuine concerns of minorities are hijacked by the sound and fury of those with questionable credentials.

As the runners and riders for the great office enter the starting stalls, I note that the so-called culture wars are moving on to the agenda of one or two. How important a wokery debate will be as the principals enter the home straight is anyone’s guess. It could be a clever tactic for an outsider to champion social moderation. Local pub chatter is regularly of the ’FFSake, really?’ variety on all manner of ’vital’ issues from biological men competing in women’s sport to plural pronouns to pulling down statues.

I sit on the sidelines somewhat. One of the quiet majority who don’t know what to say. I don’t like to offend – or be offensive. I fact check as best I can which is sometimes difficult. I am an avid listener to More or Less on radio 4, one of the best fact checking programmes or podcasts around.

Of course, the views of a moderate, white, 70 year old retired teacher are of little interest to most but we do our children a disservice if we don’t encourage them to seek out truth, test their views and attitudes and enter into discussion and debate vigorously and respectfully. That teachers and lecturers have a fear of being ’cancelled’ is a real danger in these febrile times.

Boris Johnson clearly learned early that being a witty clown and treating your opponent as a figure of fun would win him, if not friends, then supporters. Charisma? I don’t think so. Keir Starmer might wish for a greater spark but he doesn’t need to copy much else from the Johnson oeuvre. Let’s hope that the next Prime Minister is genuinely ’Right Honourable’.


8 Responses to “Ad hominem, ad infinitum”

  1. Diana Riddick July 14, 2022 at 12:31 pm #

    A bit like being back in the staff room.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. John Trotman July 14, 2022 at 12:47 pm #

    On point as usual, Sorro. The clown act to the end. And the amazing thing is that so many who ought to be wise enough to do otherwise are still ready to support him. Rees-Mogg’s faux sophistication and appearance of constitutional knowledge being shown quite so starkly to be fakeries through his ongoing support are just one startling example of this phenomenon.
    And I got one am a fully paid up member of the ‘Listen to ageing wise schoolmasters, you silly fools!’ club, asuno.

    • simplysorro July 15, 2022 at 10:42 am #

      Thanks Trots. I must stop banging on about the moral decay of those who govern…but I live in hope that short term isn’t populism will wither on the vine and someone with moral compass and the good sense to plan for the long term will surface from the swamp.

    • simplysorro July 15, 2022 at 10:48 am #

      Thanks Trots. I must stop whingeing. I live in hope that someone with moral compass, intelligence and a distrust of short termism will surface from the swamp.

  3. Jane Shannon July 15, 2022 at 8:08 am #

    Spot on Sorro – really sick of the clowns on all sides

  4. Susan Barnard July 15, 2022 at 10:25 am #

    Great post Paul. So right. Regards Sue in sunny Devon.

  5. bikerpaul68 September 12, 2022 at 2:50 pm #

    I’ve just discovered your blog thanks to Gav’s latest book. Sorry that your hopes for the UK’s next Prime Minister haven’t been fulfilled. All the best from another ex-KGS boy, Paul (Bailey)

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