‘My Hero…George Bernard Shaw’…By Polly Toynbee



Polly Toynbee is a long time fan of the BBC and defends it relentlessly whilst being a long time not such a fan of the Daily Mail’s editor Paul Dacre (2008): 

The feeding frenzy against the BBC, spurred on by Dacre and Murdoch, grows ever more threatening. It matters because politicians are afraid of both men. More sinister than the trip to Deripaska’s yacht was the less publicised visit by David Cameron to Murdoch’s yacht on that same holiday. Obligingly, Cameron wrote a piece in the Sun last week joining in the anti-BBC hue and cry.


Here she tells us that Dacre, and Murdoch, have an evil legacy for Britain:

Delicate Guardian readers may find it hard deciding whether Max Mosley or Paul Dacre is the more unsavoury character. But there’s no doubt which of them does most harm: Dacre – along with Rupert Murdoch in his different way – probably does more damage to the nation’s happiness and wellbeing than any other single person, stirring up hatred, anger, fear, paranoia and cynicism with his daily images of a nation going to hell in a downward spiral of crime and depravity.


She of course has no problem with the Marxist ideology of Ralph Miliband and thinks it ourageous that such an ideology should be called an ‘evil legacy’.

But then she is also a long time fan of George Bernard Shaw….so you might understand how Polly thinks….if not let’s take a peek under the bonnet:


Polly ‘“Everything in the State, nothing outside the State,” Toynbee defends Ed Miliband and attacks the Mail as  ‘Bully, coward, hypocrite, shameless, remorseless, ruthless, malignant – add your epithets for the Mail here.’


 Toynbee is, in contrast, very approving of the writings of George Bernard Shaw:

What makes Shaw so likeable and readable is the odd blend of soaring idealism and no-nonsense realism


Shame about this newspaper article:

In 1927 Shaw published in the London Daily News a letter titled :

Bernard Shaw on Mussolini: A Defence.”


or how about this:

 “The Nazi movement is in many respects one which has my warmest sympathy.”


or what of his liking for Oswald Mosley:

He was well-disposed toward Oswald Mosley, Britain’s home-grown fascist demagogue, declaring Mosley “the only striking personality in British politics.”

or inconveniently for Lefty Polly:

Bernard Shaw, who, for some years at any rate, declared Communism and Fascism to be much the same thing, and was in favour of both of them.


Or how about his  ‘admiration for the “great Communist experiment” which as it “spreads over the whole world” would prevent the “collapse and failure” of civilization.’  after his visit to the Soviet Union in 1931.


Polly quotes, approvingly, his ‘idealism’:

 I like George Bernard Shaw’s acerbic remark in his great socialist tract:

“The blunt truth is that ill-used people are worse than well-used people.” He adds: “I hate the poor and look forward eagerly to their extermination. I pity the rich a little, but am equally bent on their extermination.”

All classes are “each more odious than the other: they have no right to live”.


She tells us that:

The problem, Shaw says, is that the poor are kept ignorant, and without “trained minds capable of public affairs”, so they cannot see how “the evils of the system are great national evils”.

Shaw’s clarity of argument and caustic wit prod and question the weary old reasons why markets are immutable, the world must always be as it is and nothing can ever change. All it would take, he says, is enough people who want to change it. All writers can do is keep making the case for something better.


Fascinating how the mind of Polly Toynbee works…..how exterminating the Poor and the Rich is an  ‘ideal’ to be considered…..interesting also that the ‘Capitalist system’ is Evil, Paul Dacre is evil…….but we can’t call Marxism Evil.



What else is there about Polly’s hero that we ought to know?:

Playwright George Bernard Shaw hailed Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini as the world’s great “progressive” leaders because they “did things,” unlike the leaders of those “putrefying corpses” called parliamentary democracies.



aaaahhh but the Left cry, that’s so unfair picking something from someone’s past to pillory them now (Daily Mail support for the Blackshirts in 1934 aside of course):

The problem with the right-wing use of Shaw to pillory moderate socialists and nonsocialist liberal progressives is not only that very few of the latter held such views, but that this kind of cherry picking is ahistorical. It doesn’t seek to understand how such now unacceptable opinions gained currency, or who held them and why. It is what Pascal Bruckner calls the sin of anachronism, which he contrasts to real history, which “forbids us to judge preceding centuries from the point of view of the present.”


But of course Toynbee is cherry picking the bits she approves of in Shaw’s writng and ignoring the rest, just as the Left cherry picks the Mail’s history without context or understanding.


Maybe the BBC remember’s this:

Late in 1929, Shaw among other public figures had been asked by the BBC to give a talk in a series called Points of View. He chose “Democracy” as his subject and turned the term upside down by declaring, “Who can blame Signor Mussolini for describing it as a putrefying corpse?”.



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37 Responses to ‘My Hero…George Bernard Shaw’…By Polly Toynbee

  1. Span Ows says:

    all that and Eugenics…the Left: evil, lying, violent hypocrites…plus ca change.


  2. graphene fedora says:

    No doubt Polly is as selective with Shaw’s fascistic/eugenicist ramblings as she is with some of her grandfather’s writings:
    ‘It will be seen that when we classify mankind by colour the only one of the primary races which has not made a creative contribution to any one of our twenty-one civilisations is the Black race.’
    Arnold Toynbee: economic historian.
    Skeletons, closets. Oh, Polly.


  3. Ron Todd says:

    The lefts version of free speech and a free press is everybody having the freedom to agree with them, even when or especially when they contradict themselves make no logical sense or just spout garbage.


  4. Mark II says:

    People like Toynbee and Miliband feel that the world would be a better place if they were in charge and of course the only system that would allow such useless individuals as themselves to prevail is marxism.


    • Ian Hills says:

      I can just see them implementing Shaw’s “liquidation” programme from his last book (“Everybody’s Political What’s What”), where everyone the elite doesn’t approve of is “painlessly” put to sleep.


  5. Beness says:

    But the likes of Toynbee get to be in charge. They have a voice you see. She has not much readership from the Guardian but she has got herself a cushy little sideline on the BBC.
    She is the very thing she claims to hate. She is were she is for who she is and not on merit.


    • pah says:

      But Poor Polly had such an impoverished childhood and had to work in a chip shop, doncha’ kno’.

      Well, that’s her story. Obviously her father was not a home economics expert either.


  6. Maurice says:

    Non BBC this one.

    I do think it possible for her to be a fan of Shaw’s writing and not agree with all his views. Maybe if Alan gets that, we’ll see an end to the repetitve posts on this subject.


    • Span Ows says:

      I think the bias lies in the fact that she is on BBC comment speed-dial. In the same way as it is perfectly OK to allude to Ed Miliband’s father’s views it is also OK to allude to the views of one of the BBC’s key political commentator guests.


    • Guest Who says:

      ‘Non BBC this one’
      If you say so. Not repetitively, at all (that uni-directional ‘tell it often’ enough thing working a blinder. Not).
      Which, luckily, you can here.
      But Polly, and the BBC, appear to have a cunning plan to sort even that.


    • F*** the Beeb says:

      You’re not an effective troll, Maurice. If you want to play devil’s advocate, you need something of equal weight and substance to what you’re contradicting. Calling Alan and David names and just saying “it’s not biased” isn’t going to work. Even Albaman tries to back himself up with links to other sources (albeit either heavily-selective or flat-out incorrect ones), you’re too lazy to even do that.

      Since you’re probably too critically-incapable to understand all that, I’ll stoop to your fatuous level – you’re an unthinking bellend.


    • pah says:

      It is certainly true that one kind like a work of art and not like the artist. I rather like Wagner’s music but I doubt I’d have enjoyed the man’s company.

      As to the relevance of this; well, Polly goes much further than liking GBS’ work she praises him as a person and an intellectual. That goes way beyond a liking of ‘Pygmalion’ and, considering his views, is very dodgy, to say the least.


    • johnnythefish says:

      ‘I do think it possible for her to be a fan of Shaw’s writing and not agree with all his views. ‘

      She seemed to be admiring his beliefs, as opposed to his prose in Pygmalion.


  7. Jeff says:

    GBS visited Russia during Stalin’s most ghastly period and knew the extent of the widespread murder. It was every bit as horrendous as Nazi Germany. Untold millions lost their lives but Shaw thought that such horrors were a necessary evil; a sort of political “collateral damage.” Having witnessed these atrocities at close quarters the old fraud returned to his luxurious house in London and told the world that Russia was a socialist utopia.
    Yes George, just as long as you don’t have to live there.


    • Doublethinker says:

      Yes indeed , he was a very useful idiot to Stalin and co and was blessed with the great ability not to see what he didn’t want to see. You can see why Polly regards him as a great writer after all she is also blessed with an ability not to see the obvious, to disregard the misery of millions, to wish for the triumph of an elite over democracy. In other words she has many of the essential qualities necessary to be a left wing intellectual. Mr R Miliband had these to.
      It is no surprise therefore that the BBC give her a platform because they too have all of these blind spots , this extraordinary ability to invert the truth, the contempt for ordinary people whilst at the same time purporting to defend their rights, the wish to control want ordinary people hear and see and even think. In the end they just don’t want a democracy they want to be in a small elite that has control.


  8. Frank Words says:

    Seems to have been the week for dredging up the past. Publications doing profiles (or hatch jobs) on long dead individuals. The BBC for one seem to disapprove (probably because the target is the father of the Labour leader).

    Yet I remember some years ago (back in the mid 1990s so I regret I cannot recall the date) when the Radio Times promoted a particular Radio 4 week day documentary. It was about Churchill. What particularly astonished me was how Churchill was described in the column listed “Programme of the Day” (or some such).

    “These days Churchill is chiefly remembered for his drunkenness and xenophobia”.


    I recall it because it caused me to write my first complaint to the BBC/Radio Times. I pointed out that Churchill is chiefly remembered as a great war leader. I didn’t get a reply.

    At the time I thought it showed the lefts hatred of Churchill and their wish to destroy his reputation. It seems that line is currently on ice (but no doubt will return).

    The current Mail/Miliband spat reminded me of that incident. The BBC are not above character assassination through gross misrepresentation.


    • therealguyfaux says:

      Mostly Churchill is known nowadays as a dog who sells insurance, if you really wanna know the truth.

      And the sad thing is, too many don’t understand why you would want to name a bulldog “Churchill.”


  9. Guest Who says:

    The BBC often likes to play with numbers.
    And one I have seen crop up in this latest bun fight with the publication whose name dare not be spoken is Mr. Dacre’s salary.
    This is an interesting one, not simply because it’s a private sector outfit and could do what it likes so long as legal.
    I wonder if any enterprising BBC hack might like to look into the profits of the Mail as a % of the editor’s wedge.
    Then do a comparison with a man of the people as, say, The Graun’s Mr. Rushbridger?
    On a bucks per rating alone, which is the more champagne of tribal political supporters?
    Then there’s readership.
    Again an interesting one in terms of ‘speaking to the nation’.
    Maybe the BBC can explain why the likes of Pol tax our airwaves with Owen, Kevin, Sir Michael, etc… all the time… when they seem to talk to, and about… not very much the majority of the country cares much on at all.


  10. Wild says:

    “In 1933, in a preface to On The Rocks, Bernard Shaw derided the principle of the sanctity of human life as an absurdity to any good socialist, calling for extermination to be put ‘on a scientific basis’ and adding that to kill off the acquisitive classes is ‘quite reasonable and very necessary’ since no punishment will ever cure them of their capitalistic instincts….Shaw believed that a socialist state was right to kill anyone not useful to it. ‘Appeal to the chemists’ he wrote soon after in the Listener ‘to discover a humane gas that will kill instantly and painlessly’… It might be useful for war after all, and if war does not come ‘we shall find a use for it at home’…We ought to tackle the Jewish question, he wrote to Beatrice Webb on the 6th February 1938….’by admitting the right of States to make eugenic experiments by weeding out any strains they think are undesirable’.

    The Lost Literature of Socialism George Watson (1998) pp.87-8


    • johnnythefish says:

      Just what Polly has in mind for climate change deniers, Daily Mail readers, UKIP voters and public school-educated politicans (but only if they’re on the Right).

      Beginning to see where she’s coming from now….


      • Jack says:

        Ah so that’s where luvie Richard Curtis got his idea for portraying the killing of children who disagreed with climate change. You have to admit on this issue at least the Left are very consistent.


  11. ComfortablyDumb says:

    Toynbee preaches on the BBC about the ‘vile’ press. What a hypocrite. Her obituary to Waugh after his death was absolute poison. But then that’s the left for you. Campbell was on the bbc pontificating about the evil Mail. No one at the BBC had either the guts or inclination to suggest that David Kelly, were he still alive, would have a thing or two to say about Campbell.


  12. chrisH says:

    I for one am quite pleased that history is finally making a return to public debate.
    Can`t understand the likes of Toynbee or Miliband unless you`re able to take tiffin with them at Hampstead High Tea…workers playtime on the Home Service and good old Uncle Joes show trials for that frisson of worldwide workers solidarity.
    This lot of course were paid for by the likes of Attlee and Reith using our money-the workers money…for their work was far more important. Hence their unchallenged sinecures, access to the top of academe and media…and those delightful options on dachas by by the Black Sea…or a Tuscan villa if Eurocommunism was less of a threat to your sensibilities,
    And Maurice…Polly gets to go on the BBC as she feels like it…so her views ARE well regarded(and dare I say always reinforced?) by the BBC.


    • F*** the Beeb says:

      Don’t feed the troll. I strongly suspect Maurice, Conspiracy Theory Central, and The Men In White Coats are the same person since ‘their’ typeset and turn of phrase is almost identical in its regurgitation across all of ‘their’ posts.


  13. Richard Pinder says:

    The growing trend for ever more censorship in the left-wing media is not reflected in the Express, Mail or Telegraph, and the left-wing morons do not like it.


  14. Nibor says:

    George Bernard Shaw was one of the few playrights not banned by the Nazis .


  15. Rufus McDufus says:

    Is this typical of her writing? What utter garbage! What’s Max Mosley got to do with it? He’s on her (Hacked Off’s) side! What’s Mr Mosley ever done that would upset Polly?


  16. Maurice says:

    Still nothing to do with the BBC, which is what this site is supposed to be about.


    • Guest Who says:

      Best thing is to accept a full refund and take your custom elsewhere.
      Interestingly, it is only with the BBC that this option is not available.


  17. Rueful Red says:

    Polly’s done remarkably well given that she failed the 11-plus. She also failed to get a degree from Oxford. I don’t think having a celebrity communist for a father can have helped either….. oh, hang on a minute.

    Coming soon on the BBC: “Polly Toynbee: The Years of Struggle”.


    • Jack says:

      She is just another example of what privilege can do for you. The aristocracy of the Left is a wonder to behold.


    • Mustapha Sheikup al-Beebi says:

      “My Struggle against 20 years of truth, intelligence and courage in the Daily Mail” by Polly Toynbee [also known as “My Struggle”, translated from the original German, available from Cant and Goebbels books, priced £29.95]


  18. chrisH says:

    And another GBS play on the BBC last night(Radio 3; 10.15pm or so).
    Any old Nazis and eugenicists from the right still getting THEIR plays on the Beeb…or do they all have to be International Socialists, not mere National types?


  19. Scrappydoo says:

    What all these metrosexual, marxist, communists, socialists, have not grasped is that without capitalism they would not have their , Champagne, Coffe Bars, Blackberries, Ipads, Smart Phones, 32″ flat screen TV’s. etc. . They would have the BBC, Trabants (after a 10 year wait), and empty shelves in state run food shops.


  20. Amounderness Lad says:

    My favourite story about GBS is that one occasion somebody accidentally mispronounced his name as Shawm. Shaw was highly indignant and indignantly pointed out his name was “Shaw” and not only that but “Shawm” was not even a word. His much put upon wife corrected his, “Oh yes there is, a Shawm is an ancient Wind Instrument.”

    The old bag of wind, Toynbee, obviously does her best to ape the verbose, gullible old fool.


  21. David Ashton says:

    Of course, you don’t have to be for or against everything Shaw ever said, wrote or did, any more than his able opponents Chesterton and Belloc. He wrote several good and some important plays, and much sense in their prologues. He was taken in by Stalin’s Russia (not alone there). A man so kind in personal life that he reportedly answered every letter from fans or opponents, he used the word “extermination” too often in his comments, though probably with sterilization rather than gas-chambers in mind. As for eugenics he was something of an individual maverick on this still widely misunderstood and misrepesented “fad” of intellectuals of all kinds from the 1920s to the 1950s, and was reprimanded publicly by Galton himself on this score. I still find some of his economic analysis of the export-trade quite valid today, but I am not a Marxist. The big problem in politics is “terminological” abuse (in both senses) – “far right”, “fascist”, “extremist”, etc. As Ezra Pound (!) advised, “Examine ideas but ONE AT A TIME.”