Each week we’ll be asking a carefully selected guest (who is definitely not the first person we can find who’ll agree to do it) to predict the outcome of the next round of Arsehole Premier League matches.
This week, creator of There’s No Time Like The Present, Thunder Brother: Soap Division and Book of Lists Paul Rainey guides you through the weekend’s fixtures.
Michael Gove vs Philip Hammond
When Michael Gove first started to penetrate my awareness, he took the form of a wooden spoon with a face drawn onto it, hooked into a coat hanger with an oversized suit hanging off it. I imagined him to be the creation of a giant toddler, Boris Johnson probably, meant as an imaginary friend but now, somehow, real. These days, he looks to me like a Pop Funko toy. I love it when he attempts to be all serious and statesman like because all I can see is a wobble-headed Muppet floating into view. I’ve set up a Just Giving page to buy Gove some lip-seal as his lips always look chapped to me. It’s probably from all those rim-jobs he’s been giving Rupert Murdoch. In comparison, Philip Hammond is a bit of a non-entity to me. I mean, he’s undoubtedly an arsehole because he’s a Conservative MP and the current Chancellor of the Exchequer continuing to oversee the government’s bullshit policy of austerity, but is he a bigger arsehole than Gove? I don’t think so.
Theresa May vs Liam Fox
Well done to Theresa May for sending out the message to all young British girls that they too can one day be Prime Minister like wot she is. Just so long as your predecessor is a complete incompetent who resigns enabling you to acquire the role without a general election and public consent. Three years ago, one of the questions at a Curry Quiz Night I take part in regularly was “who is the current Home Secretary?” and none of my team could remember Theresa May’s name. Now look at her! Girls, you too could one day lounge around the house on your day off in a pair of leather trousers that costs what your mother currently earns every month!
My favourite Theresa May moment is when, during a speech at a Conservative Party Conference one year, she said the phrase “you couldn’t make it up!” whilst sharing an anecdote that was completely made up. This to me sums up modern politics; you don’t need actual proof to justify your actions. In fact, fronting out a lie is seen as an attribute by your supporters.
Liam Fox is definitely an arsehole but his excessive claiming of expenses, taking his friends along with him on ministerial trips and voting against gay marriage just seems like standard Conservative MP arseholery to me. May, now Prime Minister, continuing the unfounded policy of austerity and directing public money, ultimately, into the bank accounts of the super-rich (but not her husband’s) makes her the winner of this game.
Kelvin MacKenzie vs Katie Hopkins
I was surprised to learn from an article I read once about Katie Hopkins that she drops dead seven or eight times a day. Every two to three hours her heart stops and whoever is nearest has to defibrillate her back to life. The implication from the piece being that she is making hay while the suns shines for her family’s future or, more accurately, using this as justification for writing hate-speech for cash. She once did a television show where she put on lots of weight to demonstrate how easy it is to lose afterwards. She managed to lose the weight but her skin, like her personality, has no elasticity and now hangs off her making her look like a melting, wax-person.
MacKenzie, on the other hand, invented the hate-medium from which Hopkins now profits. He’s like all geese, waddling along a newly laid footpath by a picturesque lake, covering it with shit as he goes, honking and exposing his gullet at passers-by. When presented with a news headline, most people might initially think cynically about those involved but when given the facts and the opportunity to consider things properly, they come to a reasonable and fair conclusion. MacKenzie, however, takes great pride in avoiding deeper thought and not only gives into his dark impulses but wants everyone else to as well. To him, thinking is for the privileged and unrealistic for the rest of us. He’s like a giant man-baby, living in and loving the cloud of his own guffs.
When he last worked for The Daily Mail, he wrote a column mocking William Shatner for wearing a wig. William fucking Shatner. He wrote, “I’ve written some awful, awful things in my time… but at least I don’t wear a wig”. Therefore, Mackenzie is without doubt, the winner of this game.
Piers Morgan vs Louise Mensch
It’s a common misconception about Louise Mensch that it was not being asked to join her friends, including the boy that she loved, along to see a Red Wedge gig in 1985 that set her on the path to chick-lit and then, later, the Conservative Party. It was, in fact, being dumped by a regular, normal and reasonable person that turned her to despising all regular, normal and reasonable people. Today, she lives at the top of Trump Tower with her crap, rock-star husband, spreading her poison via the internet. I have one thing to thank Mensch for and that’s helping me to understand how the Alt-right operate on and completely ruin social media.
Meanwhile, Piers Morgan is definitely a doofus, a clod and a buffoon, but an arsehole? I’m not so sure that he’s even that good. For every dumb thing that he says about The Women’s March or Ewan McGregor he seems to counter with something provocative about gun law said at redneck America. My money’s on the narcissist and wind-up merchant Morgan winning this game but I will be voting for Mensch myself.
Nigel Farage vs Melanie Phillips
There’s a scientific theory gaining popular traction that our universe is a computer-generated hologram designed to show what would have happened had Nigel Farage not died in that plane crash in 2010. I don’t know what I can say about the swivel eyed sociopath that hasn’t already been said. Every time he appears on BBC UKIP Time, Loose Nazis or Piers Morgan’s Bigot Stories I shout at the world, “I don’t understand!” If charisma is measured by the desire I feel to drop an engine-block onto his head, then yes, he’s very charismatic. And if your party is disproportionately concerned about immigration over other issues such as health, defence, transport, education and employment, then there is a good chance that it is racist, I’m afraid.
This game is an easy win for Farage as I suspect that most people, like me, don’t know who Melanie Phillips is. The popular press in this country covers the entire political spectrum if you think that the spectrum starts at the far right and ends somewhere in the middle. I stopped buying The Guardian regularly after twenty-nine years last year when I realised that it is a Lib Dem paper. On the rare occasions that I buy it now it is for the TV Guide and certainly not for its commentary and punditry.
Iain Duncan Smith vs Richard Littlejohn
They say that Iain Duncan Smith has a reputation amongst his peers for being a bit stupid but he never seemed any more stupid than your standard Tory MP to me. Every time the BBC News announces that unemployment is down I think of the tens of thousands of poor bastards previously on incapacity benefit who have now had to declare themselves as self-employed in the desperate hope for a miracle source of income that never arrives, leading to their premature deaths. We should all remember the role that Smith has played in this. Meanwhile, in Japanese, the name Richard Littlejohn literally translates as Penis Small Penis. Another no-contest. Smith should romp this.
Paul Dacre vs Rupert Murdoch
I grew up in a Daily Mail house. That period during my adolescence, when I realised that adulthood wasn’t as joyless and as pious as the paper had led me to believe, was a revelation to me. In those days, the Peanuts comic-strip appeared every day; Charles Schulz’s monumental fifty yearlong celebration of humanity and the human condition. But Charles Schulz died in the year 2000 and with him went The Daily Mail’s only redeeming quality.
If you ever feel the need to be depressed, try visiting your local Waitrose on a Saturday morning and watching the trucks tipping bundles of The Daily Mail into the gaping maws of middleclass shoppers. You might think that the average age of their readers must now be in the mid-sixties and, therefore, it won’t be long before the paper can no longer sustain itself but it’s already making the leap to online like those super-rich bastards in the film 2012 abandoning the dying planet Earth. Of course, Dacre doesn’t edit the Sunday edition but life is too short for me to examine the nuances between these two cancers in our society; for the sake of argument, I’m holding Dacre responsible for the lot.
Documentaries may tell you that Murdoch is, at his core, a newspaperman, which is true, apart from all the TV networks, movie studies and other publications he also owns. His interests in newspapers begins and ends with him using them as a means for corrupting democracy and directing even more money into his bank account. You may tell yourself that print media is dying and The Sun’s days are numbered but removing the online paywall for it was a declaration that the paper is an asset to him in other ways. If he needs to, he will give The Sun away for as long as it continues to exert its odious influence over the public discourse in this country. You may think that, at 85, Murdoch isn’t long for this world and his influence will soon end, but his disorder has already been passed onto his inheritors who will be harder to identify and who have already devised even more ingenious ways of ruining all our lives. Undoubtedly, Dacre, Farage and Gove are all arseholes but they are but the applications running on Murdoch’s operating system.
Toby Young vs Rebekah Brooks
My only real issue with Toby Young is that he is bald with glasses which is my look. I’m okay with strangers shouting “Harry Hill” at me in a pub but I’m not so keen on “Greg Wallace” or “Toby Young”. Otherwise, whenever he enters my consciousness, it’s for joyful reasons. For example, actress Kirsten Dunst banning from the set of his own film, How To Lose And Alienate People. Or the column he wrote for The Spectator one time about how most of his friends didn’t turn up for his stag weekend in Spain, including his best man, despite paying for a lot of it. Hilarious.
Brooks having a punching bag in her office while she was editor of The Sun is good but it doesn’t compare to those little nuggets from Young. (Apparently, she would beat the stuffing out of it every time she heard news that she didn’t like. “The! Page! Three! Girl’s! Tits! Aren’t! Big! Enough!” and “Tomorrow’s! Striker! Strip! Is! Late! Again!”) Her special relationship with Murdoch and for being one of his inheritors that I referred to earlier makes her the biggest arsehole here.
Tony Blair vs Boris Johnson
I remember when I appreciated for the first time the full horror of Boris Johnson. He was a guest on The One Show, promoting his new biography of Winston Churchill. He was asked what he admired most about the wartime leader and he replied that it was the difficult decisions he had made that affected the lives and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. I realised that this is what he wants for himself. He wants to be the leader that is remembered for making the difficult (but, actually, not for him) decisions over whether people live or die in a war that he is prepared to concoct if he has to.
Tony Blair has actually done this. He has actually concocted the case for war. He, like me, watched a million people march against the invasion of Iraq on the news but unlike me thought “so what” and proceeded anyway. This makes him, by far, the biggest arsehole. However, keep your eye on Boris. There’s still hope for him triggering the complete and utter annihilation of all life on Earth yet.
Mike Ashley vs Jeremy Hunt
Sports Direct may have dumped their zero-hours contracts last year but there still remains doubt about the company’s intent towards their employees’ quality of work-life. While staff navigate themselves around the shops overstuffed with running shoes and football shirts (mainly size XXL, ironically) working for the bare minimum, they can at least console themselves with the thought that, if they should fall seriously ill, they have a free healthcare system that they can call upon.
Not if the Conservative government and Jeremy Hunt get their way! Hunt, who no longer has the hairstyle of a twelve-year-old boy, but only because every twelve-year-old boy has cut off their hair-flick to avoid the shameful association. Hunt, who is continuing the work started by Andrew Lansley of selling off The National Health Service to the likes of Richard Branson so that he can buy more private islands to set fire to. Hunt, who has affected a glassy-eyed, naïve persona but is, in fact, following the Conservative masterplan for profiting from the healthcare of your friends and family with deadly efficiency. Once your mum is paying £500 for an eye test and your Dad £20, 000 for a rectal examination, Hunt will have left politics for an overpaid seat on the board of Virgin Healthcare or equivalent. Arsehole!