Mary Beard described the debate Greece versus Rome with Boris Johnson as “just a bit of fun”; is that the excuse for a lefty stitchup these days? A battle is being fought for the soul of the UK. Under those circumstances, nothing involving a leading politician is a “bit of fun”.Mary Beard is one of the few celebrity figures to come out in favour of Jeremy Corbyn. (Charlotte Church, Russell Brand, and actress Donna Phoenix are other famous names). It is hard to believe that she is unaware that Boris, who has rocketed to a 9 point lead over George Osborne, is, as the likely next leader of the Tory party, Corbyn’s opponent.In politics, political stitchups are rife. This one ticked all the boxes. Did it not strike the audience as strange that the mediator, who is supposed to be impartial, was rabid lefty Andrew Marr? The interviewer involved in all sorts of skullduggery against the Tories and the Prime Minister, during GE15? The man who was involved in a monster stitchup against Boris when he and Ed Miliband colluded on the Marr Show to talk right through the Mayor, trying to take him down with carefully scripted sneers?
If you made a list of the worst possible choices for mediator from the Tory point of view, Marr would be at the top, that alone raised a huge red flag. His snide asides, couched as compliments, spoke for themselves. If anyone could be trusted to rig the vote, we were looking at him.
Secondly, the hall was packed with Mary Beard students, who raised another red flag when she arrived with their huge cheer. I was sitting to the side of the speakers, in a solid phalanx of students, all of whom continually declared their devotion to Mary, saying she must win at any cost.
When I raised this concern with Mary on twitter, she reminded me of the vote taken before the debate, which favoured Greece. In any stitchup, the people involved are savvy enough to vote for the other side first to conceal their perfidy. Or Marr could have played ball. This vote was wide open to corruption.
Finally, it was the speeches of the two debaters that convinced me this was a stitchup. Boris was oustandingly the best. Even Mary admits he was rhetorically brilliant, but it wasn’t just that. He was poetic, dazzlingly original, witty, and his speech had a clear and logical line of argument.
It was so lovely, when having told us that the Greeks invented jokes, Boris quipped “Hop on hop off Hoplites!”. He quoted phrases like “Gods who look like horses”. “My tongue freezes. I turn the colour of dead grass”.
Mary’s speech was jerky and disjointed, and she spent an inordinate amount of time whipping up the student cohorts, and making personal digs. It is hard to understand why it is such a virtue that the Romans were “realistic”. Realism can be harsh, brutal and degrading, all those adjectives can be applied to the Romans. No doubt Roman poets brilliantly depicted that realism, but I doubt that was much consolation for the populace.
And as a comment on the Spectator pointed out “That cosmopolitan Rome of hers didn’t last more than a couple of hundred years, where the previous “restricted” civilisation had chalked up several centuries.” As Boris pithily pointed out: “The Romans were bastards, maniacs, sadists and perverts”. The only good thing about the Romans was their building, in fairness they did invent concrete but the secret was lost when Rome fell.
Boris’s killer argument, and why he beat Mary Beard was exactly that. The Romans were cruel and twisted sadists. Greek civilisation could also be barbaric, but was nothing like as bad. Mary’s dishonest riposte was “Oh that didn’t matter! The people lived their lives unaffected by the vicious behaviour of their leaders!”. (not her exact words, but the gist).
This is an absolute lie. Under Hitler, every latent sadist, nutcase, rapist and murderer crawled out from the woodwork, their revolting tendencies triumphantly confirmed and encouraged by the German leadership and their followers. According to a programme on Ancient Rome on PBS America, the outstanding quality of the Roman people was blood lust.
This was not a level playing field, as black cab drivers are fond of remarking. The Romans were realistic and just like us! I’m not feeling it.
This week, Prof. Anthony Glees said that now universities are dominated by left wing hate mobs.
Right wing speakers are stitched up and shouted down. Free speech is being stifled. It all fits……