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David Moore: What Would James Do?

This is an article by David Moore. David has recently returned to Northern Ireland after 20 years in the Middle East, where he was involved in multiple startups and lectured in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

It’s not difficult – if not altogether pleasant – to imagine James O’Brien’s routine just before he goes to bed at night. You can see him, blue-striped pyjamas, top tucked into the bottoms, clambering into bed, his LBC headphones still on, asking: ‘Now, James, what would you like to say?’ In response, he will read – aloud, naturally – a few pages from his best-selling pamphlet. And, sated by his own wisdom, he’ll lay his head on his pillow, checking before he closes his eyes that a small notebook and pencil are on his bedside locker. Because James knows that his best tweets are composed at night. He knows pearls of wisdom will come to him in the darkness and that they must be scribbled down, no matter what the hour, before they are forgotten. In the morning, he’ll piece his notes together, draft and redraft and then throughout the day, release his ‘impromptu’ tweets to his legion of adoring fans.

Now, don’t laugh, but I have recently discovered that it’s not only his fans who should be digesting O’Brien’s tweets. Every one of us should be taking the time to read them. Because within those carefully crafted 240 characters, lies wisdom, within every tweet, a pathway to truth. Allow me to explain.

In evangelical churches in America, it’s not uncommon for Sunday School children to be given colourful bracelets inscribed with the letters ‘WWJD’. When faced with a situation where they are unsure of the right thing to do, the children are encouraged to look at the bracelet, ask ‘What would Jesus do?’ and act accordingly. It’s rather a quaint way of reminding children of what is right and what is wrong.

O’Brien’s Twitter feed is my WWJD bracelet. If ever I’m unsure what side of an argument to take, I ask a similar question: ‘What would James do?’ But unlike the American Sunday School children encouraged to ask the question and do exactly what they believe Jesus would have done, I ask the question about James and take precisely the opposite stance. And I’ve discovered that as a strategy, it’s absolutely failsafe.

Ever since he brought out his book, an enjoyable pastime for many has been to highlight just how often a man who had the chutzpah to call his book How To Be Right had been shown to be hopelessly wrong. On Nissan, he was wrong. On Darren Grimes, he was wrong. On Frank Lampard, he was wrong. On Arkadiusz Jóźwik, he was wrong. On regulatory alignment in the Good Friday Agreement, he was wrong. On the shipping of meat from Australia to the UK, he was wrong. On the recent election, he was wrong. And most famously, on paedophile Carl Beech, he was horribly, dangerously, irresponsibly wrong.

But while it is fun to laugh at James O’Brien and his unerring ability to be wrong, there’s a much more serious side to the lies that he peddles. We are told repeatedly how divided we are as a country. But this is a division that is stoked and encouraged by the likes of O’Brien himself. A self-appointed voice of liberal progressives, he, just like his chums A. C. Grayling, Alistair Campbell, Jessica Simor, Ian Dunt and Jolyon Maugham, won’t accept opposing views. If you disagree with him, not only are you wrong, you’re morally bankrupt to boot.

Take this weekend for example. The protests right across the UK, ostensibly about the murder of an unarmed black man in America, surprised no one when they turned ugly. London witnessed a complete breakdown in law and order with 27 police officers injured, despite an incredible claim from the BBC that the protests had been ‘largely peaceful’. The protests continued on Sunday with attacks on war memorials, Union flags and Churchill statues – events largely unreported by our mainstream media.

Events down in Bristol, however, were given almost wall-to-wall coverage. Because there, we had the ‘good’ kind of agitation. A statue of former slave owner Edward Colston was torn down, rolled through the streets and dumped in the city’s harbour, to cheers from the assembled mob. But while many cheered, there were just as many across the country, including the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who were left uncomfortable at the way the police in Bristol had capitulated. It was a discomfort that O’Brien took little time to exploit:

‘How you feel about that statue is how you feel about slavery. Don’t let anyone pretend otherwise.’

A tweet wrong and objectionable on so many levels. There’s not a man, woman or child in the UK who looks back on slavery with anything other than disgust. How you feel about ‘that statue’ says absolutely nothing about how you feel about slavery.

While there may be arguments for the removal of a statue erected in the memory of a renowned slaver, the erasing of history, no matter how distasteful we find that history to be, is a dangerous and slippery path. We mocked the Taliban, revelling as they did in removing historical artefacts with which they disagreed. The truth is very few heroes of British history share the values we cherish today. Most of them will have done things uncontroversial at the time, but disagreeable to us now. But we examine history not lazily to shame its participants, but rather to learn from it. To be cautious about the removal of a statue is to be cautious about the expunging of history and says nothing at all about how we feel about slavery.

And even if we do agree that the statue should come down, allowing a rabid and feral mob to make this decision is to admit we no longer live in a country where law and order matter. This is not how such decisions should be made. On Sunday, many questioned the ‘how’, if not the ‘why’ of the statue coming down. Indeed, a YouGov survey today showed that 53% of Britons support its removal, but only 13% approve of the way it was done. This suggests a preference for democracy over mob rule and says nothing at all about how we feel about slavery.

He knows all of this, but division is his stock-in-trade.

For anyone following O’Brien’s feed over the last 12 weeks, his interventions at the weekend will have come as no surprise. Since the outbreak of the virus, his LBC phone-in and his twitter feed have been awash with anti-government bile. You could be forgiven for thinking that in a time of national crisis, old enmities might be set aside, that ‘the common good’ might trump time-honoured rivalries. But not O’Brien. Not only has he refused to do this, but he has actively and openly wished for our government to fail. And if you wish for your government to fail on Covid-19, it necessarily requires that more people must lose their lives.

It explains the relish with which he announces the latest numbers. ‘The worst in Europe!’, ‘The second worst in the world!’, ‘The carnage in our care homes!’ He knows that the numbers are not yet comparable with countries whose method of counting deaths are different to our own. He knows that attempting to measure rates at this stage in a pandemic is premature. He knows that both population size and density are factors. He knows our care homes have not been hit as a hard as many in Europe. He knows that the UK is not New Zealand.

He knows all of this, but division is his stock-in-trade.

Brexit is, of course, how he made his name. In the four years following the vote, O’Brien dedicated every waking hour to ensuring that the wounds from a fractious campaign be opened further still. The country had voted and the time for debate was over. The time had come, no matter how you voted, to work together to make sure that Brexit was a success. But again, not for O’Brien. He was in Barnier’s camp, not Britain’s. He backed Juncker, not Johnson. He wanted the EU to hold the upper hand so that his prediction of a broken economy could come to pass. He wants Brexit to fail. And if Brexit is to fail, it necessarily requires people to lose their livelihood. But that they might, remains of less importance to O’Brien than being able to remind us all that he’d told us so.

And just as he suggested that if you didn’t agree with a statue being torn down you somehow supported slavery, his mantra over the four years was that if you voted Brexit, you were not only stupid, but racist. That you didn’t like ‘brown’ people or Polish people. And yet he knows that the UK has consistently been shown as one of the least racist countries in Europe. It’s demonstrable, as O’Brien himself might say.

He knows all of this, but division is his stock-in-trade.

The truth is, O’Brien is part of the problem. If you want to understand something of the current divisions in our country, studying his perennially miserable Twitter account is a perfect place to start. He preaches inclusion, but only ever moves to exclude. He preaches tolerance, but brands those who disagree with him fascists and Nazis. He preaches progressiveness, but his rhetoric sets the country back years. He preaches love, but only ever offers hate. In short, he encapsulates everything that is wrong with the modern-day ‘progressive’ left.

Anyone who has any interest in playing a part in building a more united, hopeful, successful Britain should always remember to ask themselves: ‘What would James do?’ And then, without hesitation, do precisely the opposite.

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9 thoughts on “David Moore: What Would James Do?

  1. @David

    But unlike the American Sunday School children encouraged to ask the question and do exactly what they believe Jesus would have done, I ask the question about James and take precisely the opposite stance. And I’ve discovered that as a strategy, it’s absolutely failsafe

    Very good. I apply same filter to BBC, C4 and, sadly, Conservative Gov’t

    Despite voting in a Tory government with a massive majority just months ago, Britain feels like a left-wing dictatorship teetering on the brink of anarchy

    We are told repeatedly how divided we are as a country. But this is a division that is stoked and encouraged by the likes of O’Brien himself

    Spot on. You’re not alone with this observation

  2. —cont

    a statue erected in the memory of a renowned slaver

    Careful, you’re agreeing with the vandals & thugs. The statue was erected in memory of the very generous philanthropy of Edward Colston

    We mocked the Taliban, revelling as they did in removing historical artefacts with which they disagreed

    Mocked? Castigated them and ISIS for their horrifying, ignorant, primitive behaviour

    ‘A nation that forgets its past has no future’: Confronted by the Nazi threat, Churchill led this country through its darkest hour

    Instead of a peaceful protest today to highlight racial injustices in law, education and employment, this campaign has been hijacked by the stentorian and aggressive Left. Intolerant of anything that fails to conform to their ascetic purview, these modern-day puritans are hell-bent on a Taliban-esque cultural cleansing.

    First, sculptures. Then, BBC comedies. What next? Book burnings?

    Unfortunately, these Left-wing agitators are spurred on by the egregious failure of the authorities last week to tackle wanton destruction. Too few police or senior politicians (with the impressive and honourable exception of Home Secretary Priti Patel) had the backbone to condemn the disorder unequivocally

    Agree with end summary, what I’ve been saying for years and more than ever with C19.

    Left want:
    Sweden to fail – more must die
    Chloroquine to fail – more must die

    Brexit to fail – more must lose jobs, die

    But then, as we know from Russia, China…Venezuela deaths don’t matter in pursuit of socialism

    Many thanks for an excellent article

  3. “There’s not a man, woman or child in the UK who looks back on slavery with anything other than disgust.”

    How to say this politely? Many of the people who burnish their Politically Correct credentials by forcefully expressing their disgust with long-extinct (except in Africa) slavery are wearing sneakers and clothes made by children and other oppressed workers living in poverty … but living far away.

    Those expressing their disgust with slavery play with their phones which require elements dug from the Earth by miners & process workers who suffer horribly for it … but those unfortunate people are also far away and out of sight.

    It is highly probable that more enlightened future human beings will look back on today’s people who are so proud of their disgust at slavery and wonder — How could they be so hypocritical? Getting holier-than-thou about what long-dead people did, while doing nothing — NOTHING — to rectify the situation where they personally took advantage of far-away people in desperate situations. Morally, how was that any different from themselves being slave-owners?

  4. There’s not a man, woman or child in the UK who looks back on slavery with anything other than disgust.”
    That may not be true for anyone that really believes in the Bible. The Bible condones slavery and even tells you how to buy slaves, treat them and punish them. You can beat them (with a thumb-thickness stick – the same as for your recalcitrant woman) but thou shalt not beat them so seriously that they die after 6 days.
    If you don’t believe in this then you are cherry-picking the Bible and it’s no good saying that “I only go by the New Testament” as somewhere in there Jesus say that he has not come to change a “jot or tittle” of the Old Testament. In other words it is NOT replaced by new gospels.
    I know this will set up cognitive dissonance but try dealing with it rather than pretending it’s all “nice” things.
    Reading the entire Bible, Old & New, is a good start if you really say you are a Christian. You might then realise that this book is not something to run or judge your life by. And BTW if you think there are ten commandments then read your Bible and you’ll count at least 165!

  5. I think Reagan got it spot on many years ago’

    “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

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