As a Remainer and Europhile who has enjoyed reading TNE from the first issue, I have to reluctantly say that I am appalled by your demonisation of Suella Braverman in your Shit List 2023 (TNE #361). She does not deserve to be on the top of a rogues’ gallery that includes Russell Brand and Boris Johnson, not to mention several other unsavoury characters.
Suella’s husband is of Jewish heritage, and she herself is a practising Buddhist. Most of us are at odds with the policies she is promoting and many of her over-zealous remarks. Nevertheless, she is a high achiever who holds herself to exacting standards in her role of home secretary, and in public life. She does not deserve to be on this list at all.
Suella Braverman was a worthy “winner” of your Shit List. Incompetent, cruel, bound to dogma and always ready with an “other” to blame her own failing upon, she epitomises why the party she belongs to will soon be out of power for a generation.
No Julia Hartley-Brewer, Mark Francois, Jeremy Corbyn, Kate Hoey, Ben Habib, Priti Patel, Andrew Neil, Neil Oliver or the entire DUP! Britain really is shafted when you have 50 worse than these tulips.
I’m sure I’m not the first, or the last, but why no listing on your shit list for Kwasi Kwarteng? For spaffing £30bn through economic and political incompetence, top 10 surely?
The Shit List is alone worth my subscription! Keep up the good work.
What is the point of the Shit List? It’s simply an incitement to derision, loathing and smugness. Quite a few of the individuals are complete nonentities, while there are far more noticeable absentees. I wonder why Dr David Starkey, for example, failed to make the roll call. Not to mention a whole cohort of Russian oligarchs.
Some parts of the Shit List made me laugh to tears! Brilliant!
TNE has been refreshing in its calling out of genuinely harmful “influencers” overlooked by much of the media. I was surprised therefore that in The Shit List 2023, Roger Waters came in at number 9 (above Farage, Osborne, Mone) because a former producer and bandmate suggested he had been antisemitic. Also because he has “taken to dressing in what look like Nazi uniforms”.
Playing a part and satire (the Nazi-like uniform with the hammers has been around since 1979 when it was part of The Wall) and calling out war-mongering (on all sides) has been standard stuff from Waters for years. There is a lot about Waters’s views that I personally disagree with, but there is also a lot I do. He has added intelligence to discourse and debate. This inclusion appears spiteful and unnecessary.
Considering people like David Frost and Dominic Cummings weren’t even on the list, given the damage both of these men have done to British political life, with neither having been elected to positions of power either, it seems somewhat bizarre to include Roger Waters with such execrable company.
Mimicking the red tops is a dumb idea at best and one that to me has no place in something like TNE. The Shit List was a crap article, to be flushed away.
I’m sure some regular readers will be turned off by the Shit List. I found it funny and cathartic – a good antidote to all the shit!
Missing from Shit List 2023 was Gavin Williamson MP who, last month, was required to apologise for breaching the House of Commons’ bullying and harassment policy and, last year, was awarded a knighthood – criticised as undeserved, given his poor ministerial record.
Max Hastings referred to the practice of rewarding failure in his book, Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45, when recounting Montgomery’s plan to surge through Holland by seizing the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem. One inept general received a knighthood.
It was remarked that the British had a habit of distributing gongs after a defeat to relieve the burden of guilt on those responsible.
The reasons for the failure of the operation are similar to those that have dogged recent Tory governments: confused strategic policies, indifferent leadership and lack of drive, initiative and judgment. No wonder the Tories are sliding to defeat.
What the shits said about the shit list:
Calvin Robinson (#2 as part of GB News staff):
“I cannot believe we were trumped by Suella Braverman. Must try harder next year to win #1.”
Lee Anderson (#4):
“I made another list. To think an old teacher said I would never amount to anything. Well old teacher, “How do you like them apples?”
Nick Timothy (#37):
“Award-winning journalism from the people who think they’re civilised, serious and superior.”
Julia Hartley-Brewer (Unplaced):
“Genuinely gutted not to have made it on to the New European’s The Shit List 2023, but they have nevertheless saved me time compiling the guestlist for my next party, so thanks for that, guys!”
I enjoyed reading Matthew D’Ancona’s “Israel cannot act alone again” (TNE #361), but there is much to disagree with here. Yes, “internationalism… involves moral commitment, tough decisions and imagination”. However, none of these qualities are discernible in the militaristic action that Israel is unleashing on the civilians of Gaza.
On the contrary, Israel’s current policy is clearly shaped to deploy the same military actions that it has adopted over the decades, only of greatly increased severity. This process now being employed in Gaza, which is intended to correct the current situation, is precisely the one that has brought us inexorably to this present climactic conflict.
One need not be surprised at the Israeli government’s attitude; a call for revenge is always the first response when a person, or a nation, undergoes a wounding attack (particularly when it is also to its pride). But it is always the wrong response.
Winter Hill, Berkshire
I have never written to a newspaper. Ever. The Germansplaining in TNE #361 (“No more both-sideism”) changed that. It was a basic lesson in biased one-sideism from the author.
The barbaric Hamas murders of Israelis still have context. They cannot only be “unspeakably evil”, however wicked the acts were. Bad supporters of just outcomes no more invalidate them than the support of good people for bad things makes them less vile.
And there can be no justification for Tanit Koch’s open-ended conclusion that states “the challenge for our society will now be to see it through”. See what through? The destruction of Gaza while trying to eliminate Hamas? The real challenge surely is for all who want peace in the region to end the stalemate and find a just political solution.
I visited Palestine/Israel some years ago, and was appalled then as I still am at the injustice of the situation. Israel has acted as a colonial power, ousting the native peoples and using them for labour in an apartheid system. I spoke to elderly Jewish people who had been helped when they first came to Palestine and were ashamed and embarrassed at what has happened since.
Of course, there is outrage at what Hamas did, but for many Israelis it will have been no great surprise, given the way in which Gaza has been treated and the daily humiliations of those who have to get in and out for work and money.
I know you won’t publish this, but need to express how I feel about your bias.
A failure at 11
Re: “When education is broken…” (TNE #361). I would like to wholeheartedly endorse the remarks from Patience Wheatcroft concerning the lifelong effects that the grammar school system has on pupils who failed their 11-plus.
In the early 1960s in Eastbourne I failed my 11-plus and went to a secondary modern school. Despite their best efforts, the teachers could barely mask their acceptance of having to deal with “failures” and of course as pupils we were acutely aware that we were very much second-class pupils. We were branded it on the badges on our school blazers and caps for all to see.
At home I particularly felt I had let my (middle-class) parents down because my elder brother had passed his 11-plus and was able to actively participate in the school orchestra, classical plays, Latin classes, school trips and rugby. With the teachers wearing gowns, the place was really modelled on a minor public school.
Despite passing my O-levels and going on to university via A-levels from a local technical college, the path towards achievement was much more difficult and the feeling of failure never really leaves you throughout your life.
Now, a lifetime lived, having started and run a successful business employing more than 100 staff for many years, I find it ironic that the opposite attitude engendered by passing the 11-plus – one of entitled success – so infected my brother, it seems, it has led to a point where in his 70s I bail him out from his impoverished state.
James Ball’s suggestion (“A theory that needs protesting”, TNE #361) that activists believe that as long as you mobilise 3.5% of the population you can ignore the rest is a bit of a straw man.
From my research on the 1980s peace movement I recognise that some activists had this minority focus, but most saw the need to engage the wider public. The movement may have actively mobilised 2-3%, but it regularly saw majorities supporting its aim of stopping cruise missiles being installed at Greenham Common. It lost in 1983, but by 1988 they were gone.
In contrast, the pro-European movement in 2018-19 may actually have passed the 3.5% test, but it barely achieved majority support at the time – even though it would were things rerun today. Ball is right that it’s more complicated than the percentage.
Axe to grind
The cutting down of the sycamore at Hadrian’s Wall (“The gap at the heart of the Tory Party”, TNE #361) is indicative of the Brexiteer mindset of “I don’t want it, therefore I will deprive *everyone* of it, just because I can.”
Re: “Last flight of the Concorde” (TNE #361). The plane was years ahead of its time, and there is still nothing near it. It was assassinated by a very envious US government which we (as always) capitulated to.