Posted by Thersites on  UTC 2018-05-27 10:12

In our Scrapbook last week we linked to an article by the Mail journalist, Robert Hardman. He reported from Felixstowe on the operation of a modern container port handling goods from all over the world. His article was interesting, informative and covered the main points concisely: good journalism in other words.

It is clear that Hardman did not visit a selection of UK ports, did not interview hundreds of other people involved in the field and did not turn in a twenty-thousand word essay on trade and borders. He took sides in the debate about the effect of Brexit on trade and borders, but in a dialectical position against the ceaseless gloom coming from Remainers.

We knew that Hardman's piece would ultimately attract the attention of Richard North, the self declared know-it-all on all matters Brexit.

The principle behind the writings on North's blog is that, apart from two or three people such as Sir Ivan Rogers and Christopher Booker, everyone else who writes or speaks on this subject is at best an idiot, but usually much worse. We have discussed North's olympian disdain on several occasions on Figures of Speech, the last time in November last year. Since then, nothing has changed.

It took a week before Hardman's piece got a response from North. It has seemed on several occasions in the past that anyone who can present ideas clearly and concisely in the mainstream media presents a particular challenge to the great guru's authority. Consequently, both barrels are discharged, de haut en bas, in response. No quarter is given, no prisoners are taken.

His intemperate response to Hardman, Brexit: a license to print rubbish, is completely characteristic of the viciousness that has made him ostracised and marginalised since well before the Brexit referendum. In that campaign he, believing himself to be the only one who knew what he was talking about, was so angry at every other Leaver for not agreeing with him on every point that he ended up giving aid and comfort to the Remainer enemy.

North opens the present piece by insulting Hardman and his newspaper. How dare this popinjay write about things that only the great Richard North understands?

There is perhaps one thing more stupid than a Daily Mail journalist in general, and that is a Daily Mail journalist writing about Brexit and customs procedures for imported goods. Such a person is Robert Hardman, who recently spent a little time at Felixtowe[sic] Port looking at the systems there, demonstrating that a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing.

Instead of all this bile, North could just respond that Hardman's account was interesting but 'missed out on a few details' or 'was good as far as it went'… We might say to North: 'Well if you know better, you write a thousand words that will interest a Daily Mail reader'.

But doing that, however, would give North no chance to vent his temper. After letting off a bit of steam in the first paragraph he goes on to take issue with the limitations of Hardman's single visit to Felixstowe and his lack of a panoptic view of the situation – quite legitimately, apart from the insulting tone he does it in:

As Harman[sic] gets stuck into his story, he asserts that… Going on in similar vein, he writes… You can read the rest for yourself, if you so wish… No[sic] content with that, he tells us… Despite this, on the basis of his flawed example, Hardman would have us believe… That is the level of debate we're getting in this country…

North is an angry man, a rejected man, bubbling over with hatred. He makes some interesting points in his response to Hardman's piece, but the reader needs to be wearing a hazmat suit in order to get to them. The conclusion of North's critique is as offensive as the opening was: the spittle-flecked anger of the embittered:

The worst of it is that there will be thousands of gullible little Muppets who today[sic] read this tosh in their Daily Mail and believe every word. One can see this already from the online comments. "Some desperate remainers trying to downplay what they know to be true, Brexit would be easy but for remainers wanting to remain and the EU not wanting other COUNTRIES to leave", says one.

I can't be bothered quoting from the knuckledraggers who infest North's own comment section – all rational opposition and disagreement having been banned long ago. He concludes his piece with a burst of characteristic hysteria:

To proffer such nonsense in such a politically-charged atmosphere is the equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded auditorium. It is plain irresponsible and people are going to get hurt as a result. But hey! We have a "free" press in this country – a license[sic] to print rubbish.

It is clear that Richard North is going to be in that padded cell for some time yet. It's a pity, because he clearly knows a lot, but his inability to focus and above all his vituperative rage against the world mean that, unfortunately, this well-informed person will continue to make no contribution at all to the debate. We are not trying to victmise North: we just wish he would take his meds or do some Buddhist meditation before he touches his keyboard.

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