Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Aaronovitch and his poor opinion column

The Olympics are many things but not an indicator of national prosperity. Otherwise Kenya and Cuba would have replaced Canada in the G8 a long time ago

Every government has its own guard dogs and The Times' David Aaronovitch is one of those doing the job for New Labour. One of the last living examples of Cold-war politicking, he's more factional than an Evertonian getting all worked up as he hears talks of Liverpool's success. He may no longer have anything in common with his own communist past, but he'd bend over backwards to stand by the word 'Labour', even when the only difference with the word 'Tory' is merely the word himself.

Recently Aaronovitch was at pains to deny quibbles such as the knife-crime surge, Labour's infighting or the dumbing down of society. Now, as he wallows in delight at Britain's superb Olympic performance, he's surpassed himself with a new pro-Labour argument. For Aaronovitch, a good Olympic result is "an indicator of national health". Britain under Labour is doing better than we think and all those medals are simply direct evidence. "If things are so bad - he writes- why are they so good?", adding that "if Gordon Brown is to get it in the neck for every ill, real and imagined, why should he not get some credit for this?"

Which begs the question: is it possible that such clever, celebrated columnists can display such a disarming level of one-dimensional thinking and self-denial? How much wool over your eyes have you got if you fail to detect what is, essentially, a dishonest argument? Not to mention that is based on absolute bollocks. One that, by comparison, would make Dr Pangloss pale into insignificance. Stand by New Labour, do a Titanic orchestra and deny that the ship is sinking, but just don't feed your readers bullshit.

Because otherwise, if we follow the Aaronovitch-pensiero, we'll have to conclude that Cuba (who outdid Britain in the medal tally charts for several consecutive Olympics until Sydney 2000) at the height of Castro's grip on power was a much healthier nation than the UK?
Or that Switzerland, Sweden and Canada are much poorer and inefficient than not only Russia, but also Jamaica, Kenya and Ethiopia?

But then I remember the height of the Cold War and the pro-Soviet regimes brandishing their outstanding Olympic achievements as an indicator of political, social and economic superiority. The USSR, East Germany, Bulgaria and Hungary were all falling apart but they were still routinely humiliating Britain, France and others Western nations at the Olympics.
It makes sense. It's Aaronovitch's own past coming back to haunt him and old habits die hard.

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