Friday 15 July 2011
Julie Burchill: Diversity? It's just a mask for low wages
I'm not just saying this because I tried out as a scriptwriter and got rejected by them last year (EastEnders too!) but the current crisis in Coronation Street – more than two million viewers lost over the past year – is easy to understand. It's partly plotlines so drawn out that the actors seem to be stuck in a series of slo-mo revolving doors. It's partly more murders in one Manchester street on a Monday than there are in Midsomer in a month. But it's mostly that you often feel as if you've walked into a local council workshop on diversity.
This is particularly unexpected and unwelcome in a drama which was always character rather than plot-driven, let alone pamphlet-driven as has recently become the case. Yes, anyone who's not brain-dead understands that homosexual partnerships are just as valid as heterosexual ones, and come with a much better record collection. No problem. I think that everyone watching got a lump in their throat – or somewhere– when the teenage lesbians first declared their love. But it's not just about being gay anymore. It's about being LGBT. It's about being PC, which is leading it to become DOA, FFS. It's about watching busybody quota-filling pen-pushers take over a national treasure. Invasion of the Corrie Snatchers!
The last straw was the astoundingly condescending episode this week when Audrey, the gobby hairdressing grandma, was taken to a transvestite bar by her potential cross-dressing love interest. Aud is never one to suffer fools gladly, especially when she catches them trying on her thongs. Yet we had to watch this eternally-spirited woman sit there and receive a lecture on the wonders of being married to a wig-snatcher from the wife of one of them while displaying all the inquiring mind of a hypnotised sloth at an Iranian anti-Israel rally.
The excellent feminist writer Julie Bindel has highlighted the insensitivity and entitlement of men who pull on a frock and expect to be accepted by women as sisters in suffering: Black and White Minstrelism in miniskirts. In the case of married cross-dressers, it's our old retro mate Men Doing As They Wish And Women Putting Up With It – if that's progress, I'm Widow Twankey. Yet the one-sided, patronising, more enlightened-than-thou way the case was presented was so smug and hectoring that it would have seemed more at home on Question Time than on the nation's favourite soap.
Diversity is the opposite of a nickname: you have to choose it for yourself if it's going to stick. Imposed from above, it does nothing but create bad feeling and jobs for halfwits. It's been a disaster for left-wing politics in this country, enabling big business to bus in swathes of slave labour from Eastern Europe and then accuse the indigenous workers whose wages were going down the Swanee of being racist if they didn't just knuckle under and accept it. (A Big Lie deliciously exposed by the recent findings that more Asian Britons than whites believe that immigration should either be stopped permanently or halted until unemployment falls.) Commonwealth immigration gave us brother Bill Morris and Mrs Desai's Grunwick strikers: EU economic migration has given us cheap labour and crowing bosses. And we are still meant to celebrate diversity as though it was a jazz-handy dance troupe come to hoof all our worries away!
Writing to this newspaper's letters page earlier this month, Graham Wright from the Vale of Glamorgan put it far better than I ever could, with my cushy job and spiteful nature, replying to Sean O'Grady's claim that the more immigrants we have, the better, even with millions unemployed. "While the skills and training of Britons could certainly do with some improvement, the main barrier to our getting jobs are the low wages and poor conditions of service that employers are increasingly offering. Employers often favour migrant workers for their so-called 'work ethic'.
"We used to have this kind of 'work ethic' in Britain. During the industrial revolution it was commonplace. We haven't lost it; we fought our way out of it, largely through the efforts of the trade union movement. We are right to demand the kind of meaningful life outside of work that such long hours make impossible."
There's a reason why the CBI has always been against immigration controls: it's called driving down wages, stupid! And how amusing to see those who consider themselves sworn enemies of capitalism supporting the right of business to trample over hard-won union gains in the name of the Brotherhood of Man. If only we could switch off these suck-ups and their cross-dressing CBI sweethearts as we have the diversity-dictators of Coronation Street. But I get the feeling this one is going to run and run.
The policing of pleasure, the indulgence of addiction
Salt is an addiction (says a new Australian/American survey). Cigarettes may soon be available only on prescription (in Iceland, but give it time.) Babies should exercise and pensioners shouldn't booze, say our home-grown buzzkills. Strange that while ethnic and cultural diversity (we called it divide and rule in my day, but never mind) is endlessly pandered to in modern Britain, the difference between those who want to live long and healthy lives and those who want short and fun ones has never been less respected.
I find it hilarious that the state hands out methadone to junkies with no worries, but is obsessed with policing the behaviour of those who have the backbone to handle pleasure without pathologising it and whining "Ooh, poor little me, I'm an addict, GIVE ME FREE DRUGS!" I was recently in a chemist's trying to buy some Benylin cough mixture to treat a summer cold. When I answered "Drowsy, please!" to the query of whether I wanted the drowsy (fun) or the non-drowsy (un-fun) kind, you'd have thought I'd asked for a kilo of raw opium! And while I was answering 20 questions about my putative Benylin-binge, there was a junkie next to me knocking back his little cup of state-sponsored knockout drops! As my role model Richard Littlejohn would say, you couldn't make it up.
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