The Guardian Man of the Year: the vote’s in

Since few of my British readers read that paper, and some overseas readers may not know what it is, The Guardian is the leftmost of our broadsheets, though its supremacy is being contested by The Independent and increasingly The Times.

The Guardian also prides itself on its cultural excellence and sophisticated readership, a claim its poll was supposed to reinforce. Instead, it has blown it to smithereens – yet again.

But I shan’t keep you in suspense any longer. Positions 2-8 are occupied by Marco Weber and Sini Saarela with 314 votes, Pope Francis (153), Jack Monroe (144), Waris Dirie (69), Satoshi Nakamoto (33), Kanye West (28), Andy Murray (22) and Elon Musk (11).

I pride myself on knowing who Pope Francis and Andy Murray are – and even more on not having a clue about who the others might possibly be.

But Wikipedia says that Weber and Saarela are Greenpeace activists; Jack Monroe is a propagandist of cheap food for the poor and, the name notwithstanding, actually a woman, though a lesbian; Waris Dirie is a Somali human-rights activist; Nakamoto has come up with the idea of electronic money; West is an American hip hop artist, whatever that means; and Musk is a software billionaire.

Obviously the poll was taken before Mandela’s death and subsequent canonisation/deification, otherwise he would have topped the list. As it is, the winner and undisputed Guardian champion, weighing in at 1,145 votes (more than the other eight combined) is… go on, make a guess. Give up?

Edward Snowden, Putin’s new friend, Russia’s new resident and America’s chronic pain in the neck. You know, the chap wanted for espionage.

One can see conflicting pieties clashing all over this list. Greenpeace, cheap food, human rights all seem to fit it neatly in the profile of a typical Guardian reader. But then problems start.

For example, Waris Dirie campaigns not for human rights in general, but specifically for those of women who are being circumcised in Somalia. Thereby she brands herself as an opponent of multiculturalism, and surely Guardian readers must be appalled.

They must have some pecking order of pieties, in which multiculturalism is trumped by women’s rights. Come on, fellows, don’t let your Uncle Tony (Blair) down. You can’t slaughter your sacred cow yet, not when it’s still producing its poisoned milk.

You like couscous, cultural diversity and destroying traditional England? Well then, you must accept female circumcision, the stoning of adulterers, the odd blown-up bus, forced marriage, jihad and the murder of apostates. Cultures don’t come piecemeal, you get all for the price of one. So you must rethink Waris Dirie; find someone who sticks up for safer human rights.

And the Pope? How did that come about? Yes, I know he has been making Marxist noises, which is a perfect qualification. But on the available evidence he still remains a Christian, and that’s simply not good enough.

And not just The Guardian kind of Christian either, one preaching that Christ was a sort of Che Guevara of Galilee. No, Pope Frances believes in things like the Incarnation and the Resurrection, something no one associated with The Guardian believes, except perhaps that Polish bloke who drives the delivery van.

So if I were you I’d wait until His Holiness treads the path paved by some of our bishops and declares that all that dated nonsense no longer applies: Jesus must be worshipped for his morality, not his divinity. Then you can vote for Francis. Until then, may I suggest A.C. Grayling?

Kanye West does tick a few boxes, especially the race one. But doesn’t The Guardian aspire to be the flag-bearer of high culture? How does hip hop, whatever that is, advance this aspiration?

I’d replace Kanye with Danny Barenboim: he’s a classical musician, if not a very good one, and he’s about to end the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He also likes to play Wagner, if not yet Horst Wessel, in Israel, to show how art can triumph over parochial resentments. Vote for Danny, and you tick the race box too – along with others: multi-culti, liberal, high culture. Worth considering, that.

It goes downhill from there. Nakamoto and Musk are both about money. Wealth! Filthy lucre! The source of all evil! From there it’s but a hop, skip and jump to the admiration of capitalism, and this simply won’t do.

Are you out of your mind, chaps? Guardian readers must have money, the more the better, this goes without saying. But this must be accompanied by attacks on capitalism, not accolades for its practitioners. Such attacks a) prove PC credentials, which is de rigueur for Guardian readers, and b) if successful, may stop readers of the less fashionable newspapers from acquiring money.

Reconsider, that’s the upshot. And we haven’t yet talked about your winner yet.

True, Snowden gave America a black eye, which is good. He also tossed morals aside for cheap publicity, which is even better. But then he had to go and become Putin’s friend, which is ambivalent.

On the one hand, Putin is heir to the fine Soviet tradition of equality for all at the price of concentration camps for many. And the camps may not even have existed, as The Manchester Guardian, as it was then, explained to its readers. So far so good.

But Putin has also banned homosexual propaganda in schools. That was a selfless act, of course, considering that he himself is reputed to favour boys. But in spite of such praiseworthy private predilections, in public he has come out as a homophobe. Now tell me who your friends are, and all that. Putin is Snowden’s friend, so what does this make Snowden? Also a homophobe, and that’s worse than being a concentration camp overseer.

Don’t you feel for Guardian readers? Every day they have to meet new challenges, resolve new conflicts. Careful with those dilemmas, chaps, they just might gore you with their horns.


P.S. Nelson Mandela is still dead.



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