In an age of lines to take, media trained celebrities, keeping on-message and identikit politicians, those people with an opinion at odds with the norm standout like a union leader who votes Conservative. Our culture of conformity has enabled some, who are willing to stick their head above the parapet, to carve out handsome and lucrative careers based on what they say rather than for any meaningful achievements. One of these people is Jeremy Clarkson. He has developed a loyal following which means he enjoys a substantial salary from the commercial arm of the BBC, for which he supplies a steady supply of books and DVDs.
This was the reason he was appearing on the BBC One Show; to promote his latest book which came out last week. The book, entitled ‘Round The Bend’, is described as “funny, globe-trotting, irreverent and sometimes downright rude” so is there any wonder that his views, expressed about those who went out on strike, matched the latter part of this description? He wilfully over-stepped the mark in a manner which makes him, and the BBC, piles of money every Christmas. He did as we expect of him: he provided an opinion that stood out and gained him huge publicity.
The reaction from Unison, the public sector union also over-stepped the mark. With a shrillness that guaranteed Clarkson’s views would be heard again and again, the union’s spokespeople hit the airwaves claiming they were taking legal action and that Clarkson’s views were “extremist” and an “incitement to violence”. Over 48 hours later we are yet to hear what Unison’s legal counsel has advised their client.
To say that people who had been out on strike should be shot was insensitive, but also deliberately contrary, in an age when the slightest criticism of a public sector worker is the death sentence to a political career. This time of year there are scores of comedians, musicians and mouthy show offs like Clarkson doing the chat-show circuit to sell their latest stocking fillers. Most of them fail to inspire or stand-out. Clarkson’s appearance on the One Show may not have been inspiring but it certainly stood-out. The whole country is now very aware he has a new book on sale so the bottom line is, that Clarkson did his job, his long track record of making outlandish remarks to correspond with the release of his latest book or DVD continues. For this reason, Jeremy Clarkson is my communicator of the week.