Name Calling

Thomas Jones

‘You know what people say about you,’ Jeremy Paxman said to Ed Miliband on Thursday. ‘They see you as a North London geek.’

‘Who cares?’ Miliband replied. Then he asked: ‘Who does?’

Paxman dodged the question.

‘I have to be frank, I suppose I am a one-nation Tory, yes,’ Paxman said at the Chalke Valley History Festival shortly after he left the BBC last year. Disraeli, the originator of one-nation Conservatism as well as Britain's only Jewish prime minister (Miliband would be the second), was born in Bloomsbury and went to school in Walthamstow. What would Paxman have called him?


  • 30 March 2015 at 10:07pm
    Simon Wood says:
    "Mr Disraeli, would I be right in saying that whereas Mr Gladstone is a sanctimonious CEO, you are more of an effete Creative Director?"

  • 31 March 2015 at 9:34am
    Rikkeh says:
    Interesting that neither Disraeli nor Miliband actually practised the Jewish religion while Members of Parliament. Miliband will at least (correct me if I'm wrong, learned LRB crowd) be the first athiest PM if elected (although by no means the first Oxford humanities graduate in his 40s).

    Paxman's comment begs the question of where One Nation Tories are actually at home today? With Cameron & Co's divide and rule (both on national and class lines), are Paxo and his ilk more at home with Labour?

    • 3 April 2015 at 8:37pm
      David Martin says: @ Rikkeh
      Wikipedia (if not 100% conclusive: "In the mid-1980s [James] Callaghan told an interviewer that he was an atheist.[citation needed]".

    • 8 April 2015 at 2:31pm
      Rikkeh says: @ David Martin
      Ironically, the only way we'll get definitive confirmation from Callaghan on his atheism now is if he turns out to have been wrong.

  • 31 March 2015 at 10:06am
    Joshua K says:
    Let's not kid ourselves: Paxman is just a straightforward Tory. Throughout his time hosting Newsnight, if any guest made even a mildly left-wing remark he would start rolling his eyes. For me, the low point was a show he hosted at some point in the mid-noughties, with neoliberalism was at its unchallenged zenith, asking 'whatever happened to ideology'? A dyed-in-the-wool rightwinger to set alongside James Harding, Andrew Neill, Nick Robinson, et al.

    • 31 March 2015 at 10:51am
      Alan Benfield says: @ Joshua K
      Quite so: for right-wingers, 'ideology' is only ever 'left-wing'. 'Right-wing ideology' is to them an oxymoron: right-wing ideas are only ever self-evident and reasonable (however swivel-eyed they might be)

  • 31 March 2015 at 9:40pm
    Simon Wood says:
    Answer the question.

    • 1 April 2015 at 9:30am
      sol_adelman says: @ Simon Wood
      But the partiality of our news filters is a much more interesting one.

      For example: How many people know that the BBC's Director of News and Current Affairs is a fanatical 'shrink-the-state' right winger? The answer, of course, is: 'A lot less than would know if he were a fanatical (or even moderate) leftwinger'.

  • 2 April 2015 at 10:25am
    jeremyjh says:
    In any case, 'geek' isn't quite the derogatory term it used to be. It evokes knowledge and intelligence, both good skills in a potential leader (if they're actually there).

  • 2 April 2015 at 11:20am
    Simon Wood says:
    Is it not correct to say that some people would say that the answers here are typical of readers of the North London Review of Books - tangential and recessively parenthetical, indeed, not so much fractured as exponentially fractal?

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