Know who your friends are

Unusually for George Monbiot on both counts, his latest column advocates a sort of negative campaigning, and exhibits a fair amount of muddled thinking. Although Labour voters flocking to the Liberal Democrats, in protest against illiberal Labour policies, might be seen to be a natural process in keeping with both parties’ stances, he’d rather the protest vote go to the smaller parties. The central idea is that they would look more like protest votes, but wouldn’t give the Lib Dems a boost ahead of their time. Poor Charles Kennedy just isn’t ready to be the next opposition, so please vote Plaid Cymru instead.

From someone who is generally acknowledged as a master of rhetorical clarity, this is rather muddled thinking. Perhaps it’s the company he’s keeping. Among his list of “those [he] admire[s]” are Richard Dawkins and Anita Roddick. Dawkins, as we all know, is the bile-filled publicity buffoon who, knowing apparently little about philosophy or theology, nonetheless wages a loud, offensive war against any religion while putting scientism up on a pedestal that it doesn’t a priori deserve. He gives a bad name to any atheist with a brain by spouting the sort of ay-i’m-stedyng-meeja-tee half-bakery that any decent academic in the field avoids, whatever their religious persuasion: firstly out of education, then out of practice, then out of sheer embarrassment at being caught saying it.

Roddick, on the other hand, seems more like the sort of strident Wolf-lite that one would like to have on one’s right-on side. But, the mediocre treatment of her employees aside (just one of many layers of hypocrisy in the whole Body Shop enterprise) there’s more to Roddick than the cult of her own personality, frequently fuelled by the Big Issue (founding members J Bird and, er, G Roddick). Like Dawkins, Roddick’s religious persuasions make for interesting discussion, as the Cult Information Centre’s links suggest.

Does Monbiot know? I suppose that, given he advocates voting for George Galloway’s party, he’s not too concerned about the friends of his friends. Shame.

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