There are many good reasons for not reading The Spectator. The best is probably the way the articles start out with a reasonable premise, eg. there are too many people living in poverty in the UK in 2004, then somehow argue their way to an entirely unreasonable conclusion, eg. income tax is the root of all evil and should be abolished, and the poor should be shot and stuffed to make novelty draught excluders.
However, if you're the editor of the Spectator, surely you have at least a contractual obligation to read its reactionary claptrap? Apparently not, if you're Boris Johnson, who this week was in all sorts of trouble after an editorial claimed that Liverpudlians had overreacted to the death of Ken Bigley and (just for good measure) refuse to acknowledge that local footie fans had contributed to the Hillsborough disaster. (In fact a report cleared them of any responsibility.)
So why are Liverpudlians so crap? They're 'hooked on grief', enjoy assuming 'victim status' and suffer from a 'flawed psychological state'. Yeah, pull yourselves together, you Scouse pansies. Can't you handle the odd stadium disaster and beheading, eh, soft lads?
In recent years, The Spectator has traded on its 'controversial' (read: right wing, retrograde, stupid, etc.) commentary, not least from its arsehole columnist Taki, who seems to think he is cleverly outwitting the PC brigade, when in fact he just spouts offensive, ill-informed generalisations. After the shooting of two black teenage sisters in Birmingham, he wrote that 'only a moron would not surmise that what politically correct newspapers refer to as 'disaffected young people' are black thugs, sons of black thugs and grandsons of black thugs.'
Nice. It's worth noting that Taki's critics are not just lefties, the Commission for Racial Equality and all sane people. Taki's ramblings about Israel prompted noted pinko Conrad Black to write: 'In both its venomous character and its unfathomable absurdity, this farrago of lies is almost worthy of Goebbels or the authors of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'
With this sort of track record, what the fuck was Boris thinking when one of his writers decided to make a bizarre attack on a whole city because someone who once lived there has been hacked to death in Iraq?
It could be that the Spectator, like the Daily Mail, believes it says things that other people don't dare say. In reality, the reason other people aren't saying these things is because they're bollocks.
Whatever your views on collective grief, it's a bit weird to conflate the Hillsborough disaster with the death of Ken Bigley. Granted, a lot of crap is talked about Liverpool and its strong sense of community (let's not forget Ken Bigley was an effectively an ex-pat working for - dare we say it - tax-free money) but you can't condemn an entire city because of the drivel Carla Lane and other professional scouses come out with.
However, Boris said he stood by the view that Liverpool had a 'mawkish' culture. Even if this argument holds water, its target is still totally wrong. The death of Diana proved that a large part of the UK population in general is horribly mawkish. A mentally unstable Sloane Ranger dies on another jolly to Paris? Quick, get out the Franklin Mint catalogue - only a hand-painted 'Princess of Hearts' musical thimble set can ease our pain!
(And for that matter, does anyone remember the decommissioning of the Ark Royal? We're a pretty mawkish lot if we can shed a tear over an obsolete aircraft carrier being cut up for scrap. It's like having a minute's silence every time you bin an empty milk carton.)
Unfortunately for Boris, this whole stupid business has undermined any credibility he might have had as a serious politician, largely by reinforcing many people's opinion that Westminster is just a surrogate public school debating society for overgrown Billy Bunters and Flashmans. And if so, what better school magazine could there be than The Spectator?
In next week's Spectator: Boris explains how you can get the village girls to do it for Woodbines, apparently.