Colin Brazier: What were the BBC thinking asking an old-loony left-winger to pontificate at a moment of national crisis?
This is Susan Michie, as in take the mickie
Consider the case of two old comrades. Both have spent years on the hard left. Both believe in things the rest of us find doolally. Neither should be taken seriously. And yet, while one is ignored and has to resort to ever-more bizarre stunts to get his voice heard, the other is feted, her opinions broadcast to millions at moments of national crisis. She’s treated like the Oracle of Delphi. He’s treated like the village idiot.
HE is Piers Corbyn, the man who pulls-off the seemingly impossible task of making his brother Jeremy look middle-of-the-road.
“Wearing a mask is like trying to keep a fart in your trousers.”
As catchy protest songs go, it’s not exactly Bob Dylan.
But however, bonkers, it’s no dottier than what we heard from another old leftie this weekend.
This is Susan Michie, as in take the mickie. Whereas Corbyn seems less committed to the Marxist cause, she has been – for the past 43 years – an active member of the Communist Party of Britain.
On Saturday evening Professor Michie was the first expert invited by the BBC to pass instant judgement on the Prime Minister’s televised announcement.
Why was she the wrong person to ask? For one thing, she sits on SAGE, not as a scientist, but as a psychologist. What people wanted to hear at the weekend was whether the NEW variant warrants a return to the OLD lockdown. Is it deadly? How deadly? Today several scientists say that, though it will take a fortnight for clarity to emerge, it may be that the omicron variant is weak, part of covid’s virological evolution into a less serious disease, like the cold.
But Michie belongs to a school of thought that says any risk posed by covid is too great. She’s spoken at events organised by the Zero Covid Campaign, which might more accurately be called the Furlough Forever campaign.
You’d think as a communist sympathiser, she might think twice before speaking approvingly of communist China’s covid record. But, clearly, having secured her seat on the SAGE committee, she won’t be deterred.
Last year, for instance, she posted this extraordinary tweet, laying bare where her sympathies lie.
“China”, she said “has a socialist collective system…not an individualistic, consumer-oriented, profit-driven society badly damaged by 20 years of failed neo-liberal economic policies.” What history-defying drivel.
She rounded off with the words ‘#LearnLessons.’ Well, of course, the China she praises has learned lessons, hasn’t it.
After murdering millions of its own people, it’s learned that it’s better they don’t do anything disruptive, like vote or ridicule the communist party.
Even today, there were reports of how thin-skinned party apparatchiks remain. If you live in Chinese controlled Hong Kong, for instance, you will no longer be able to see an episode of The Simpsons where they visit Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the site of the deadly 1989 crackdown against democracy campaigners.
In the show a sign can be seen which reads “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened”. Well, if you were hoping to see that in Hong Kong, forget it. The episode has been purged.
People who speak highly of the regime in Beijing should not be invited to sit in judgement after our democratically-chosen Prime Minister announces a major change in Covid policy.
Imagine the outcry if, when the PM finished telling the nation that they were facing lockdown again, the face of Piers Corbyn had filled millions of TV screens. It’s unthinkable. So what were the BBC thinking, asking another old-loony left-winger to pontificate at a moment of national crisis?