Stephen Pollard, Idiot

Also great fun, of course, over the last few days, has been the saga of Stephen Pollard and YouGov. Pollard wrote a characteristically irritating post about how YouGov wasn’t very good, in his opinion, which prompted a damning response from one of the chaps who works there in the comments box (reproduced here).

A little later, Pollard announced that “Some of you will notice that a post which was here earlier today about YouGov, the pollsters, has disappeared. I’m afraid that, for reasons which I can’t go in to, I have had to pull it.” This is mysterious, for the title of the original post was “Pollard Speaks, YouGov Quakes”, which makes it highly unlikely that Pollard pulled the post after YouGov pointed out that it was libellous, Pollard not being the kind of guy to quake in the face of any kind of legal threat.

All of this then left regular readers puzzled, first as to why Pollard continued to leave the offending post up on his site here, despite having told the world that he had pulled it, and second as to why he went on to insist that he’d won some famous victory over YouGov (“Game, set and match”), even though, quite patently, he hadn’t.

Idiot.

(For more discussion, see Anthony Wells’ blog here, and for a good point well made try here.)

Widmerpool Award?

I mentioned yesterday that right-wing hack Stephen Pollard was going to win next year’s Widmerpool Award, which celebrates, among other things, pomposity, self-importance and lack of self-awareness. But now Crooked Timber’s Chris Bertram emails me to suggest that there may be physical as well temperamental affinities between Anthony Powell’s immortal creation Kenneth Widmerpool and Pollard.

Well, are there? You decide.

The pics on the left are images of Kenneth Widmerpool at different stages of the life-cycle, taken from the Channel Four adaptation of A Dance to the Music of Time (and lifted from the excellent anthonypowell.org.uk website). The pics on the right are images of Stephen Pollard, lifted from here, here and here.

I’ve cropped and resized these images to carve out irrelevant detail, and presented them here in low resolution to save on bandwidth, but I haven’t otherwise buggered around with the photos, the originals of which you can find by clicking on each of them.

In other news, Pollard fessed up to pulling numbers out of his arse, and insists that all he ever meant to do with his ridiculous claim that the EU kills a person every 13 seconds was encourage other people to produce a more credible estimate. Ho hum.

There He Goes Again

Stephen Pollard, a dead cert for next year’s Widmerpool award, has taken to quoting himself as an authority in his latest piece in the Times, referring to “a recent paper by the Centre for the New Europe”, without revealing his co-authorship of said paper:

“A recent paper by the Centre for the New Europe calculated that one person dies every 13 seconds somewhere in the world – mainly in Africa – because of the EU’s protectionism…”

That’s comic enough, but it also gives me an excuse to link back to a post of a bit over a year ago, in which I read that wretched paper and pointed out just how stupidly stupid this claim really was.

Stephen Pollard is an Ignorant Git

Daniel Davies has noticed, too, which will certainly help the evolution of the relevant google page.

I’ll just note here that his comments box [and scroll down] is also haunted by another ignorant git. There’s a chap called Andrew Ian Dodge who posts nonsense on some of the blogs I read from time to time, such as at Harry’s Place, whom I first noticed when he wandered into my comments box to make an obviously false allegation, and who really outdoes himself this time with this piece of illiterate rubbish:

Yeah never really understood why the left does not give a damn about the Kurds. They get slaughtered (with WMDs no less) and the left actively campaigns against saving them (rather than say staying neutral). While on the other hand, black Africans get killed and we have to rush in and save them.

Thinking back to the time of Halabja, I can remember Kurds protesting, I can remember far-left Trotskyist groups protesting, I can even remember an early-day motion signed by a bunch of mostly left-wing Labour MPs protesting.And I can remember a Tory government in general and David Mellor MP in particular doing their best to ensure that this little atrocity didn’t disrupt the profitable relationship that the British state enjoyed with the Baathists, and very little interest from the back benches of the Conservative Party (or indeed, from the front bench of the Opposition) in what was going on.

I wonder, by contrast, what Andrew Ian Dodge can remember of that time that I have been managing to forget?

(I suspect that the key to understanding Andrew Ian Dodge lies in deciphering this page, which Matthew Turner pointed me towards once upon a time. But I can’t manage to get beyond the first few sentences. Apparently he has a blog with a stupid name over here, though I can’t say I’ve ever read it.)

Is Stephen Pollard An Illiterate Git Or Am I?

Pollard writes today in the Sunday Telegraph (as recorded on his blog) that “There is only one story which really gets some commentators’ wickers up and that is that the Blairs have chosen to holiday in homes belonging to Sir Cliff Richard, Prince Girolamo Strozzi and Silvio Berlusconi.”

The claim of substance that he makes in the sentence is obviously false, as so often in Pollard’s writing, but that’s not what bothers me here. Rather it’s the word “wickers”. There’s a phrase “to get on [someone’s] wick” [see OED, “wick”, 2.a.], and this could be a clumsy attempt to render that thought. And I read also that “wicker” as a verb can be used instead of “whicker”, which means to whinny, or “To utter a half-suppressed laugh; to snigger, titter”, which might work in a slightly different context, but not really here, as he’s not really writing about journalists who mock the Blairs.

And Google doesn’t really help either: the main uses of the words “wicker up” seem to be found in furniture catalogues, but again, I don’t think that that’s the metaphor that Pollard’s using.

So is this some horse-racing jargon that Pollard has in his vocabulary to which I’m happily not privy, or is he a master of linguistic invention to whom I should defer?

Or is he illiterate, or am I?

Stephen Pollard…

… is an Ignorant Git: We’re used by now to pieces of Pollardiana in which he spouts nonsense on subjects about which he appears to know nothing whatsoever. His lunatic sneerings about Glastonbury are probably the most celebrated recent example.

Now he turns his attention to Lance Armstrong’s victory in the Tour de France and comments that part of the reason competitive cycling is so boring is “because the team element is missing.”

That’s pretty much the equivalent of saying that football is boring because the ball isn’t spherical.

(Are the only people more stupid and ignorant than Pollard the editors who pay him for his dross?)

The Silence of the Shams

Given the amount of criticism swimming around directed at Donald Rumsfeld, don’t you think it’s time we had a rousing defence of his recent conduct from his unofficial cheerleader-in-chief Stephen Pollard?A search of his blog reveals that he’s been unusually reticent on the subject in the last couple of months.

Perhaps he’s feeling like an idiot.

But who knows what, if anything, really goes on inside the Pollard brain?

Self-Parody Alert!

Well, there are two today. And they’re from the usual suspects. First, Stephen Pollard explains why he’s not going to be soiling himself with the Guardian any more. Second, Melanie Phillips takes issue with Jonathan Freedland’s piece in today’s Guardian. This is a more complicated effort. I’ll just note that in her second sentence she mischaracterises Freedland’s use of the “McCarthyite” label, and that she never engages with his main claim about rightist views of the Spanish elections, which is their implication “that when terrorists strike political choice must end”. The rest of the post is the usual hyperbolical nonsense.Oh, except that Stephen Pollard has said that this is a “withering response” to Freedland.

So there must have been something in there that I missed.

Pollard:

I wander over to right-wing hack Stephen Pollard’s blog, and there I find a badly-written post called “The EU kills one person every 13 seconds“.

It’s advertising a think-tank report which he’s co-written against EU trade rules, and in his post he restates the claim and makes it slightly more precise: “EU protectionism kills one person in the third world every thirteen seconds”.

Curious as to how these figures were calculated, I follow the link to the press release put out by an outfit Pollard works for called the Centre for the New Europe, and there, in a summary of “Key Findings”, I read that “6,600 people die every day in the world because of the trading rules of the EU. That is 275 people every hour”, and then, with a bullet point all of its own, that, “In other words, one person dies every 13 seconds somewhere in the world – mainly in Africa – because the European Union does not act on trade as it talks.”

Still curious, I download and skim-read the report, and about two thirds of the way through a pop presentation of the case for free trade attached to some rude remarks about the EU I find this:

The Human Cost of Protectionism

24,000 people die every day from starvation, or from causes directly related to malnutrition. Let us make a reasonable assumption – erring on the side of caution – that 20,000 of these people do not die from the purely local causes of civil war and crop failure.

In a world of potential abundance that could be made actual by more open trading rules, the European Union accounts for a third of trade protection. Thus – given the earlier assumption – 6,600 people die every day in the world because of the trading rules of the EU. That is 275 people every hour of the day.

In other words, one person dies every 13 seconds somewhere in the world – mainly in Africa – because the European Union does not act on trade as it talks. (p.10)

And, er, that’s it. That’s the sum total of the pathbreaking reasoning and demographic analysis employed to produce this conclusion. It seems to be slightly more respectably generated that the figures about global child abuse which Michael Jackson tosses around whenever he’s given the chance, but not much.”These are questionable, if not unreasonable figures…”, the writers recognise in the sentence that follows on from the chunk quoted above, but they don’t go on to question them. And, regrettably for the credibility of the report, this flash of self-awareness fails to percolate through to the trumpeting of “key findings” in the press release, nor to one of the co-authors’ own breathless blogging of his own achievements.

EU agricultural subsidies produce grim results. There’s no disagreement there between people like me and people like Pollard. (Lots of others, though).

But there’s a part of me which likes to think that so-called think tanks are supposed to raise the level of public debate, sponsor interesting research papers and produce real “findings”, rather than churning out tabloid-esque shock headlines which turn out to be underpinned by little more than tabloid-esque arguments.

Another part of me wonders whether the entire output of the Centre for the New Europe is as silly as this, or whether it’s just this report, or just the stuff that Pollard works on; but having spent the time reading one of their efforts this morning, I’m not sure I can be bothered to invest the energy to find out.