There are some things in life of which I am slightly proud, even though I really shouldn’t be. Being asked if my tan is fake is one (though it most certainly isn’t).*
Another thing I can now add to that list is receiving my first abuse on Twitter. If you already follow me, or have been reading the torrent of tweets in the sidebar you will know that @shawgreen kindly tweeted that I am apparently “still putting the prat into Pritchard.” Sadly it wasn’t particularly good abuse, but beggars can’t be choosers. Maybe it will come in handy if I decide I ever need a strapline for this blog.
Although one could argue that I should have had better things to do with my time than respond, I was sat on a bus at the time. So I really didn’t. The first thing I did was to note that “nonsensical 'insults' with nothing useful to say are the sad hallmarks of a self-righteous 'socialist'” but then I decided that I should try and be constructive and enter in to a discussion about the issue at stake.
Which was, in this case, my comment about Mervyn King. I’d had half an ear to the Andrew Marr Show a few moments earlier and had tweeted my ponderings, wondering why old Mervyn wasn’t allowed to enjoy himself like everyone else. Apparently he’d been seen indulging himself with VIP Hospitality at Wimbledon, and this had generated fierce criticism.
I have to admit that I wasn’t fully au fait with the story, but I personally don’t begrudge him enjoying that perk. My question to @shawgreen was whether he’d also begrudge Wayne Rooney indulging himself, because it strikes me that there is a bit of a culture these days of criticising some folk and turning a blind eye to others.
I’ve often wondered why bankers, chief executives and city slickers get slated for their “obscene” salaries by the same people who will then cheer on Mr Rooney (and support his £250,000 a week salary for kicking a ball around). According to @shawgreen, it’s because the likes of Mr Rooney “provide joy,” but I remain unconvinced. Feel free to use the comment form to persuade me otherwise.
Anyway, the discussion got particularly interesting when I was accused of invoking “a class snobbery issue” and valuing “pinstripes over team colours. Mental toil over physical.”
I don’t know what it is about some folk who champion the socialist banner, but this is not the first time that I have seen accusations of introducing class snobbery when it didn’t actually exist before.
Let’s be clear about this – I was the one questioning the lack of consistency in the criticism of the likes of Mervyn King, whilst turning a blind eye to others. Ironically, @shawgreen was the one who was making a distinction by being selective in his criticism.
So now we have reached the crux about what annoyed me in yesterday’s Twitter discussion – although it is perhaps unfair to single out @shawgreen when I’ve seen plenty of his type before.
I don’t doubt that there are genuine socialists out there, with genuine principles, and a genuine desire to practise what they preach. And I’m not getting at you with my little rant. But all too often those voices are drowned out by the hypocrites. By the self-righteous who absolve themselves of all responsibility by blaming someone richer than them. By the inconsistent who make sweeping generalisations about “Tories” and “bankers,” but not about footballers, or who find it acceptable to criticise Christianity but unacceptable to criticise Islam. By those who belong to the Henry Ford School of Tolerance (“you can have any view you like, so long as it’s mine”).
As an advocate of freedom of speech, I’m perfectly happy if you want to be critical of bankers (let’s face it, there are good reasons) or to criticise the Christian faith (or any other belief, for that matter). But if you’re going to champion a cause then please give yourself some credibility by having some solid principles. No-one is perfect, but charity begins at home…
*I’m not orange, in case you were worried. I think I’m just very tanned for someone who’s only been away for a few days.