Simon Says… What He Was Signed Up To Say

The first offering from Simon Schama’s much-trailed ten-week stint on Radio 4’s A Point of View is pretty much as expected – Labour spin from a Labour supporter. According to Schama the narrowing polls prove that “we” the electorate really want bad tempered tough guy Gordon Brown as our leader, in defiance of those nasty anti-Brown newspapers and their politically-motivated narrative about the PM as a bully. (Remind me – where was Andrew Rawnsley’s book serialised? Oh yes, those renowned Tory rags The Observer and The Guardian.) In his attempt to convince us that Gordon’s the man we desire Schama gives much of his essay over to an embarrassingly unfunny imagined phone call between Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell (whose name he misspells). Schama’s services don’t come cheap; if this dire effort is a foretaste of what’s to come I think a BBC Trust inquiry could be in order. There’s not much that BBC bosses enjoy more than throwing bundles of cash at their favourite historian in return for his reliably left-of-centre take on events, but even some of them must be concerned at the quality of this opening piece.

And what’s with Schama referring to himself in the third person? He did in it one of the two oft-repeated trails for the programme (the other had him enthusing about Labour closing the gap in the polls), and he does it again in an interview for the Radio 4 blog. It’s an affectation that’s ridiculous in ego-inflated punch-drunk boxers, never mind fucking historians.

Update. Forgot to add, Schama does get one thing correct – suck up to your opponents and likely they’ll spit in your eye. Last week, in one of those depressingly common celeb-obsessed announcements that all political parties love, the Tories promised to involve big-name historians in their proposed overhaul of the national curriculum. One of those historians? Simon Schama.

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7 Responses to Simon Says… What He Was Signed Up To Say

  1. Craig says:

    He takes over from Lisa Jardine, a card-carrying member of the Labour Party.


    • D B says:

      At least Clive James challenged some of the bien pensant “wisdom” of the chattering classes.


  2. John Horne Tooke says:

    Its not suprising that the “conservatives” consult a labour luvvie. They consult Dyke on the BBCs future and Schama on history. The “conservatives” are past redeption, the years of BBC left wing bias has rubbed off on them that they now even believe that they were the “nasty party” in the 80s and 90s. With the help of Schama they will be able to see the error of their free market ways and embrace socialism.


  3. George R says:

    The BBC, in its full ‘Vote Labour’ propaganda mode, signs up Schama for his 10 week, slow drawling rant.

    Multi-millionaire, American Schama, is a full-on Obama advocate, and a subscriber to the BBC’s unarticulated, outmoded ‘multiculturalism’, which seems to involve supporting mass, unlimited immigration to Britain,

    and uncritical support for all things Islamic! 

     Schama rates himself an expert in all things. For example in one of his many previous BBC TV series, he ventured into the world of art, and turned the British painter, Turner, into an anti-slavery campaigner;

    a campaigner against slavery involving Britain, not Islam, of course.


  4. hippiepooter says:

    DB, from time to time DV does remind us of the need to avoid ‘language’.


  5. John Anderson says:

    I have been on a short holiday, returned last night,  caught the Simon Schama piece when I turned the radio on this morning.

    I wish I hadn’t woken up so early,  it was all so bloody predictable.

    And he will get much worse as the election approaches.


  6. Millie Tant says:

    I found that telephone nonsense just very tedious to read – thank God I didn’t have to actually hear Schama declaiming. The rest of it was rambling and as for the ending, it did seem to be nothing more than an embarrassing self-indulging wallow in some sort of personal worship of men on horses.

    From that interview it appears that he would like to compare himself with Alistair Cooke but although he (Cooke) meandered through history like Frank Muir and Dennis Norden constructing one of their long-winded tortured puns, his subject was always American politics and history and not himself. He was steeped in it, reeked of it and always fascinating, never boring to listen to, despite his style.