Polly Toynbee, Counter-Revolutionary 218

It is amusing that Polly Toynbee attacks Russell Brand on the grounds there is a real difference between Labour and the Conservatives, on the day Ed Balls argues immigrants must be kept out by amending the EU treaties – in the same paper!

I have never been a great fan of Russell Brand’s media persona, and for a revolutionary to be shacked up with Jemima Khan’s millions is perhaps some kind of extended exercise in post-modern irony as performance art. But Brand’s perception that the neo-con political parties are all the same is absolutely correct, and his is almost the only voice the media will broadcast saying it. When I have been saying precisely the same thing for a decade it is not news. News, apparently, lies not in what is said, but whether or not it is a celebrity who says it.

Not voting is a perfectly reasonable choice. I would prefer that people voted Green, or independent, or SNP in Scotland or Plaid Cymru in Wales. But Brand’s option of not voting is also valid – the entire system of corporations, media and politicians is designed to block real change.

Polly Toynbee is a very rich woman compared to the rest of us, with a great deal of inherited wealth and a Guardian salary well into six figures, for writing a constant stream of tribal pro-Labour drivel. She quotes with approval John Lydon’s observation:

it’s clear, if you’ve got a pile of money in the bank, you vote for people with piles of money in the bank

Which is absolutely true, and why Polly Toynbee votes Labour. Another irony which flies over the head of the humourless old moneybag-toting harridan.

Toynbee is delighted to discover that the rambling Lydon is not really a revolutionary. The rest of the world had known it was only a money-spinning pose for forty years, and he is pretty right wing.
Extraordinary that Toynbee points out the strangeness of treating Russell Brand as a political guru, and then sets up John Lydon instead. The silly old bat really, really doesn’t get irony, does she? Or is Polly Toynbee in fact herself some kind of monumental performance art installation, designed on every level to project the futility and hypocrisy of New Labour?

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218 thoughts on “Polly Toynbee, Counter-Revolutionary

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  • Joseph Kurtz

    I like Russell Brands newd broadcasts and he shares something in common with U and I Craig. Also we have to join together with people of good will who are generally on the right side – ie our side with the 85 % [not 99% as 14% are high paid functionaries for the 1% – even though thet are are relatives and we love them etc] IT is not about whose analysis is 100% Jesus things are so bad we have to take any small victory we can get.

    But yes that does include lesser evilism especially in Australia where preferences matter. Labour in Aust is slightly less disquisting and slightly less nasty to the poor. Also red-green in Sweden wont change much but bettwer that right etc. But in Ist pass the post well minor parties really up against it.

    Keep up the good work Craig et al.

  • lucythediclonius

    It was Sid Vicious who had an altercation with Freddie Mercury (unless it was another incident ).It would be out of character though plausible for John .

  • Daniel

    The role Toynbee plays for the Guardian within the establishment is to create the illusion that is ideological difference between the major political parties. In May 2005, even after the invasion of Iraq, the editors of the Guardian wrote:

    “We believe that Mr Blair should be re-elected to lead Labour into a third term this week.”

    The Guardian-Blair view has a long, violent history stretching back many hundreds of years. In the nineteenth century, English civil servant Herman Merivale offered guidelines for government administrators interested in the control of native customs:

    “It will be necessary, in short, that the colonial authorities should act upon the assumption that they have the right in virtue of the relative position of civilised and Christian men to savages, to enforce abstinence from immoral and degrading practices, to compel outward conformity to the law of what we regard as better instructed reason.” (John Bodley, Victims of Progress, Mayfield Publishing, 1982, p.105)

    In 2000, Polly Toynbee updated the doctrine in an article titled, “The West really is the best”:

    “In our political and social culture we have a democratic way of life which we know, without any doubt at all, is far better than any other in the history of humanity. Even if we don’t like to admit it, we are all missionaries and believers that our own way is the best when it comes to the things that really matter.” (The Observer, March 5, 2000).

  • Robert Crawford


    The media will broadcast what celebs have to say because they know no one takes them seriously. They are seen as, “just entertainment”, with no substance or knowledge.
    Whereas, you know the facts, just like all the other whistle blowers, and they don’t like the truth exposing the opposite to what they have been saying.
    I cannot “go” Russell Brand either. When I discovered he was on our side I was surprised, and felt he was more of a hindrance, than a help.

    I feel the same way with Tommy Sheridan. I don’t like to be addressed as “brothers and sisters”. Too commi for my liking.
    What about this “Judicial Review” by Ms Wolfe? Is anyone going to start it?

    Every SNP MSP and local councillor should resign in protest and then London would have to impose English Rule on Scotland again, which would make Scotland ungovernable and teach the Nos a lesson they would not forget, and, would probably resist English Rule as unacceptable. Afterwards, they would be only too glad to have the SNP back running the country, “fairly”.

  • DoNNyDarKo

    Russell Brand observes the irregularities in our system pretty well.It’s maybe Jemimah Khan at the moment,but its really any woman that comes into his orbit.He likes beautiful women and the circles he moves in most of them have money too.He is aware of how hollow he often sounds because of his riches and fame,but he makes up for it in my eyes by being the voice of the many who cannot be heard. He was on the Keiser Report with Alec Baldwin the other night highlighting where the rot is.Good show if you get the time to watch it.
    As long as your vote cannot change anything,why bother.We have 4 parties committed to keeping the gravy train going for them that have enough already.Its the truth that each vote they get legitimises them as politicians.To hell with them.
    John Lydon and “Rotten’s” creator McClaren have always been honest about their rebellion.It was about fame and money. That’s where the “Great Rock’n’roll Swindle”laid it all bare for the world to see.How else could a kid with rotten teeth that couldnt sing get famous ?
    And Polly Toynbee = MSM = Keep the illusion going and demonise any danger to the system.
    Problem demonising someone like Russell Brand is that he’S come clean about all of his vices and dirty thoughts.Can’t be anything left to crucify him with.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Great post Craig, almost every line a gem. I agree with Robert Cawford: entertainers being essentially trivial are allowed to criticise the system, whereas a former ambassador with the attendant gravitas and authority is not allowed.

    Another thing that bothers me about Russel Brand is the way he looks so much like Jesus, or at least the traditional western idealised image of him. Is he being set up to offer us an alternative route to salvation?

  • craig Post author


    Yes, you are right. Apologies. Amended. Wish I had seen it. Mercury’s image rather belies the fact that he was actually a large and physically very powerful man.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    “entertainers being essentially trivial are allowed to criticise the system, whereas a former ambassador with the attendant gravitas and authority is not allowed.”

    You may well be right about entertainers, but I’d like to ask you a question about the second part of the above quote.

    Are you claiming the qualities of gravitas and authority specifically for Craig or did you intend your observation to have broader validity, ie, does every former ambassador have gravitas and authority which flow from the fact that he was once an ambassador (“attendant”)?

  • Daniel


    Implicit in your valid contribution, relates to how people like Toynbee perpetuate false illusions by creating disingenuous parameters for debate. That’s the role of the vast majority of Guardian journalists and commentators. Owen Jones has mastered the role better than Toynbee as medialens highlight so well.

  • A Prole

    I often think that Brand is just a professional windbag, but perhaps the more the idea of revolution is mentioned, the more people will think about it. The worst that can happen is that he raises the political consciousness of West Ham supporters.

    What is clear is that any revolution will be Jacobin, not proletarian in nature. I think it is this that worries Polly Toytown and her friends. The state is ready to put down a general insurrection, but has less idea how to deal with the calculated resistance of an intelligent popular opposition.

    The obvious place to start is Scotland.

  • Clark

    This seems pretty much what we should expect from the corporate media; it is a victim of its own ‘success’, and such incestuousness is an effect of scale. Each corporate media outlet competes for as much viewer attention as possible; viewers are won by presenting speakers who are already well known to the public. Thus, a consistent pressure is created where fewer and fewer ‘media figures’ (be them ‘celebrities’ or ‘political commentators’) are presented to greater and greater audiences. The same pressure operates upon the ‘media figures’ themselves; why quote someone with an interesting and informative viewpoint when quoting, say, Jonny Rotten is such a reliable attention-grabber?

    I wish I could think of some way of reversing these trends.

  • YouKnowMyName

    The last time I was at a cocktail party with Ed, we did touch on finance/EU. Ed’s dad was a brilliant British professor AND EU mandarin in one of European Union Directorate General research function before he retired to Norfolk and returned to running his animal charity. Ed therefore knows/gets Brussels from insider knowledge!
    The same can be said for the next CON leader, who not only grew up in Brussels and attended one of the EU’s international Schools – but *his* dad also worked directly for the mother EU Institution!

    As you imply Craig there’s NOT such a real difference between Labour and the Conservatives

  • Ishmael

    Yes. Johnny’s confused, to put it kindly. Didn’t even educate himself about anarchism before totally misrepresenting it’s historical precepts in his song. And he still doesn’t seem very clear about it.

  • Mary ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪ ₪

    Toynbee is a director of Brighton Dome and Festival Ltd and of the Social Mobility Foundation.

    A new director has just been appointed to the latter. A pal of Brown’s and the late chairman of the failed Lloyds Bank, Sir Victor Blank. The list includes the ghastly Hazel Blears. Also Terry Leahy and Stephen Dorrell.


    I see Cameron took him on as a business ambassador. Lloyds shareholders not so happy about him.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Clark (11h21)

    Interesting post but not quite sure about what you say at the end:

    “why quote someone with an interesting and informative viewpoint when quoting, say, Jonny Rotten is such a reliable attention-grabber?”

    That seems to be saying that people with interesting and informative viewpoints and people like Johnny Rotten are two separate species at the two ends of a spectrum. But there is no reason why Rotten (or Brand) should not have interesting thoughts on issues, and you do not need to be an expert (I take it that this is what you mean when you say “informative”) to be able to see through to the nub or core of a question – common sense, intuition or a good moral compass are often enough.

  • Anotherlurker

    Sir Malcolm Rifkind contribution to the Palestine debate was particularly galling especially coming after his virtuoso al-Ghouta false flag attempt to con MPs on the floor of the Commons not so long ago. The man is even more shameless than the resident troll here, but it may be just in a tribesman’s DNA as Wendy Sherman pointed out.

  • Robert Crawford

    Don’t hate the Media, become the Media.

    This is what Stephen Paton said on all his terrific You Tube postings to help the Yes Vote. (Production Attic). Check him out (Scottish talent).

    The other thing is Clark, we give the media it’s oxygen by commenting on them, and buying newspapers.

    “What you think about is what you bring about”. So, if you are thinking about their anti-independence, you will bring about a negative outcome. (as we have experienced).
    If you are single minded, and keep your eye on the target to the exclusion of everything else, you will hit your desired target.
    This is how the BBC evaluates their effectiveness, by counting your responses.

    Ignore them all, they can’t stand being ignored. They then don’t know what to use as a “trigger” to be effective against you. It is alright to hear what is said, or, to read what is said, if you fire back at them by allowing it to get to you, they have won!

    Give them the cold shoulder. Forget the hot tongue. That way you are not giving your energy to them. Keep your energy for your own self, it works, by not harassing yourself.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    “F off Habbabkuk. I have had enough of you lately.”

    There is no need to adopt that high-handed tone, Mary. I was just expressing astonishment that someone who regularly castigates the MSM for being trivial, corrupt and part of the establishment conspiracy to enslave us all should be quoting from them – and on such a deeply personal and at the same time trivial matter as whether Ms Khan and Mr Brand are still “together” or not.


  • Phil

    “Didn’t even educate himself about anarchism before totally misrepresenting it’s historical precepts ”

    Although disputed I tend to believe it was McClaren who wrote the sex pistols lyrics and he had a fair understanding of anarchism, especially the spectacle. Anarchism, although able to be considered at greater depth, is essentially very simple to grasp.

  • Pete

    Disagree with you on this one, Craig. Russell Brand is an entirely negative, non-constructive voice. “Don’t vote it only encourages them” is all very well, but what does he suggest people do instead??? He has no constructive suggestions whatsoever. All those 55+ year old baby-boomers who stopped Scotland getting its independence and who will ensure that all the British nations get at least another 5 years of Cameron, will go on voting. Russell Brand only influences young people- the very people who need to get politically active, who are the backbone of any revolutionary change.

    Of course that doesn’t mean they should vote for the mainstream parties. But there are other parties. Russell Brand would presumably have discouraged young people from voting in the Scottish Referendum, would he not?

    Anyway, how could he possibly be trusted with his wealth, his residence in the USA, and his association with Jemima Khan, and through her, with the Goldsmiths and Rothschilds??? Do you think they would not have checked him out, and satisfied themselves that he was harmless, or even beneficial, to their schemes???

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    A gem from “Anotherlurker”:

    “The man is even more shameless than the resident troll here, but it may be just in a tribesman’s DNA as Wendy Sherman pointed out.”

    Did Wendy Sherman (who she, by the way?) also point out that Jews had hooked noses and were good at business?

    Another lurker, another Jew-hater.

    This blog certainly seems to attract them! 🙂

  • Phil

    Toynbee is also the head of the board of the Dome in Brighton where staff are in a struggle to get a living wage.

  • Phil

    No time for Brand? No time for Sheriden? Jesus what an narrow reformist crowd you applaud.

    I don’t recognize the difference between Craig and Brand being touted here. They both sell themselves on their reputation built from complicity with rotten systems. I like both of them but actually agree more with Brand. At least he doesn’t cling to the system encouraging others to vote for another shit party.

  • Phil

    “Russell Brand smells the same as Charlie Vietch”

    Really? I don’t see tha5t at all. In what way?

  • Sofia

    Whether it’s Uncle Craigs wonderful wordsimithery, “…humourless old moneybag-toting harridan…some kind of monumental performance art installation, designed on every level to project the futility and hypocrisy of New Labour…”

    or Russel Brand’s ability to make people look and laugh at the absurd mandated narratives and then tell others about the show with a smile,

    Can you imagine how many people must have refered someone else to Toynbee’s words compared to Brand’s or Craig Murray’s.


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