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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Alan Bennett Live; Britishness; Alan Bennett's Diaries; Tolerance and Arrogance

A full house at the Electric Palace in Bridport, for "Alan Bennett Live".

(Adam Low’s documentary, Alan Bennett’s Diaries, follows the writer around the UK and to New York over the course of a year).

Clip One  -  The Smart State Clip - A Trailer

In the live Q and A with Sue Macgregor after the end of the documentary, Alan Bennett was asked about "Britishness". For him, Britishness, or an important part of being English, is about tolerance and inclusiveness - and about being ready to offer refuge to others. He said that he felt ashamed about Brexit and current attitudes, such as refusing to be a refuge, as Britain and the British have always been.

I have heard less sympathetic people suggest on occasion that another less appealing aspect of Britishness is arrogance.

Could it be - certainly not in the case of Alan Bennett - that there is a kind of arrogance in laying claim to the quality of tolerance?

We can never be sure about the perceptions of others. There was an example of possible arrogance on BBC Radio 4 this morning, on the Today programme at around 7.10am, in the questioning style of the interviewer/presenter. Take a listen on BBC iPlayer, the Today programme  of 17th November.

0710 - "Donald Trump has usually preferred the coverage of Breitbart News – a politically conservative website which is said to espouse the views of the “alt-right”. He’s hired the website’s executive chairman Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. Joel Pollak is senior editor at large of the publication"
It wasn't a question of who was right or wrong, the interviewer or the interviewee (Joel B. Pollak), or whether the tough line of questioning could be construed as defamatory, but whether that style of hard talk and questioning has more than a touch of arrogance. Either way, there is a growing risk that the media and journalists are facing a strong counter-attack. Interviewees are ceasing to be intimidated by journalistic slurs and innuendo, legitimate or otherwise.

See also


Daniel Tatarsky tweet: @BBCr4today @joelpollak wipes the floor with another ill-prepared interviewer.

Today Presenters

Another example, from The Guardian - Manfred Weber warns UK not to meddle in bloc’s post-Brexit business as he criticises Boris Johnson’s ‘unbelievable arrogance’

Johnson labelled arrogant and Davis scorned, The Times

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