Tag Archives: Katie Hopkins

Why I stopped listening to LBC

LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation) does pretty well for itself these days. The UK’s most popular speech radio station has cashed in on the glut of wannabe politicos, who’ve relished in the social media boom to believe they’re more important than they actually are.

If you regularly muse on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr (okay, nobody serious uses Tumblr) you’re guilty of said self-obsession – I know I am. I wish I wasn’t such a narcissist.

One of the most ignored “isms” on the rise, narcissism isn’t shunned because there’s a lot of capital to be made from it. Narcissists tend not to be the smartest eggs but they do fancy themselves, which plays right into LBC’s hands.

LBC loves a narcissist, even more so if they’re an unintelligent one with a big ego, as they can bring in their own big ego host to slap them down, knowing they’ll “win” an argument purely on their debating savvy acquired from hours of droning behind a microphone.

Now, I should point out that it’s not ubiquitous and there are some long-term regular callers who sound thoroughly decent, but they are becoming few and far between.

When you ring into LBC – as I regrettably did on three occasions to talk about the electoral system, the European Union and fat people – you get pre-screened to see whether you’re up to the task. Qualifications, however, seem not to include being smart or having anything original to add to the conversation.

I’m a bit outlandish, a rabble-rouser – you have to be unique, controversial or simply an arse to write for a living nowadays (a combination of all three helps – so I, unwittingly, fit the bill perfectly.

“You simply must hear what this caller had to say about the EU,” their clickbait professional will tweet out. Having a broad Somerset accent would have only added to the circus-like theatre. While none of my calls ever received an ego-satisfying “OMG LISTEN TO THIS” tweet, LBC is usually good for a couple a show. Let’s have a gander at their recent ones:

On 30 January, Iain Dale – who, in fairness, hosts an enjoyable weekday show between 4pm and 7pm – was put up against a fact-free Floridian Trump supporter.

Indeed, Dale himself said that the caller didn’t know what they were talking about. Surely this would have been apparent during pre-screening and they would have recognised this and denied them a spot on air. But no, Sherri from Clearwater, FL, was the perfect low-information Trump fan that they could exploit for, well, not knowing very much.

And then they struck the motherlode – Sherri cut the call. Crazy radio moment: tick. Trump advocate looking like an idiot: tick. Viral material: tick.

If LBC aren’t parading a wacky caller, they’re chucking out bait masquerading as a question to get one on the line.

James O’Brien’s “unmissable reaction” to something – usually Trump or Brexit – will be tweeted, or a deliberately wild quote from new and newish LBC provocateurs, Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins, will be posted. Follow their Twitter feed for a fortnight if you suspect me to be nit-picking.

Don’t get me wrong, radio is better than the telly in the UK as you can say more and get away with more – it’s what makes Fox News and MSNBC appealing to conservative and liberal Americans. Opinionated news and bashful debate is much more attractive than beige reporting which you probably think is biased against you anyway.

That’s why LBC is fun for a bit. If you’re a politics addict – and right now, how could you not be? – the station is mighty enjoyable, at first. But after a few weeks or months you see the flaw: there’s not a lot else to do it.

Listening to LBC’s “debates” will do nothing to improve your knowledge of a topic. With hosts firmly on the Left, staunchly on the Right and a few floating in the centre, there’s not an overall bias issue, just a quality one.

You’ll either be subject to a few minutes of caller-presenter love-in, or a deliberately aggressive battle between two hotheads which is remembered more for insults than substance.

There’s nothing surprising about absurdity on LBC, it’s a stock trait. And once you’ve clocked that they don’t only welcome it, but pre-plan the chaos, the novelty erodes and so does the will to listen.

At least that’s what happened with me.

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I don’t like One Direction, does that mean I can have them arrested?

I don’t like One Direction. I find their wrecking of music offensive. Obviously, I am right, and everyone else is wrong. So therefore, since One Direction are offensive, and I don’t like them, they should be arrested shouldn’t they? I mean, they are offensive, in this tolerant society that isn’t acceptable, surely?

Oh hang on, of course, that’s right… I’m not a fascist!

I may mock, but this sort of behaviour has engulfed Twitter in Ebola-like proportions. Fittingly, that brings me on to Katie Hopkins, who has “offended” a bunch of Scots, or “Jocks” as she referred to them. Since when was ‘Jocks’ offensive anyway? Remember the legendary, and now sadly deceased darts player, John Wilson? Or Jocky, as everyone referred to him.

I digress. After stripping the Twitter hyperbole down, and tranquilising the lynch mobs, it appears Mrs Hopkins tweeted a joke – yes, only a joke – about “Little sweaty jocks, sending us Ebola”.

Funny? Not overly. Reason for prosecution? Apparently.

Sensing an opportunity, the Scots – 45% still whining that the rest were duped into voting against independence – have took it upon themselves to get her arrested, and charged. Under what law, I’m not too sure. But a petition to get her nicked for “vile and racist tweets” has been signed over 21,000 times  at the time of writing.

It’s all getting quite Orwellian up in Scotland. I mean 1984, not Animal Farm. Well, I guess it could be both. Communism, of course. I’ll refrain from labeling them animals, it might be considered offensive!

The police are now reportedly “examining” Mrs Hopkins’ tweets with their aim being to “establish any potential criminality”. They have also promised that “anyone found to be responsible will be robustly dealt with”. Good luck with that.

Is there no real policing to do? Only last week a man was arrested for making a joke about the tragic Glasgow bin lorry crash. It was a heinous thing to do but punishing people for what they say is a violation of freedom. No more real criminals to catch? Perhaps we should have your budget slashed then. After all, we’re paying for you.

That so many seem to endorse a police state and are more than happy to relinquish their liberty to pursue witch hunts is worrying – even more so when you consider how many across the world battle oppression.The lynch mobs do not realise the full impact of their crusades and what they are condoning through these petty petitions.

Interesting is it not, that people regularly attack Mrs Hopkins yet steer clear from Muslim hate preacher Anjem Choudary. Is that because they are accepting of his right to freedom or because they are too scared to do anything about it? Answers, I have none. You can be the judge.

My big fear is eventually the powers that be will look to make an example of someone for their social media actions, using that incident to warn others against expressing themselves over the internet. When people are unaware of what rights they possess, it is striking how easy they can be taken away. Britain’s membership of the European Union should tell you that.

It’s difficult to hold much sympathy though. Our freedom isn’t being snatched, we are willingly let it go. And as we enter 2015 – a year marking the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – it’s about time we fought back.