Essential reading for the committed cynic

September 30, 2009

Must-read stuff! Private EyeIf you want to stay informed about the UK’s political shenanigans, then Private Eye is essential reading.

The magazine is published fortnightly, and gives more details on the goings-on in and around British politics than anything else you can buy (it’s £1.50 well-spent). It also has the distinction of being Britain’s most-sued publication; not that surprising if you know how truly appalling UK libel laws are. Were you try and set up a similar publication today, nobody would offer any financial backing because of the outrageous risks involved.

The magazine’s editor, Ian Hislop, has become almost blasé about that. In one high-profile case brought by that pillar of society Robert Maxwell, his remark to reporters outside the court upon losing was, “I’ve just given a fat cheque to a fat Czech“. As some might remember, that unctuous media mogul who was born Ján Ludvík Hoch, once owned, and was chairman of, Oxford United Football Club. Perennially absent from the team’s matches, the fans had their own little chant for the man who saved their club from bankruptcy: “He’s fat. He’s round. He’s never at the ground. It’s Cap’n Bob, Cap’n Bob“.

Rupert Murdoch, better known to Eye readers as The Dirty Digger,saw his arch-rival, Maxwell, subsequently vanish – supposedly falling off his yacht in the middle of the ocean. The body was never found, and the timing of the disappearance was spookily convenient; there was a huge scandal surrounding the fact that he had robbed the pension funds of his newspapers to prop up his business empire.

Ian Hislop – on the other hand – is, allegedly, still alive and doing rather well. He’s instantly recognisable to most people in the UK as one of the team captains on the popular satirical show, Have I Got News For You.

And to close, let me explain the joke in the above magazine cover for non-UK readers. Question Time is a popular topical debate programme on the BBC. Sometime in the coming month, it expected that the leader of the British National Party will appear on the show. The BNP are the inheritors of Oswald Mosley’s legacy, and successors to the British Union of Facists. The speech bubble is a play on host David Dimbleby‘s manner when selecting members of the audience to put questions to the panel. As a comment below suggests I add, the actual origin of the show’s name comes from a long-running tradition of the British House of Commons, Prime Minister’s Questions.

Advertisements