Matt Zarb-Cousin is a beautiful snowflake

6th February, 2012 8:47 pm

Snowflakes are unique. Each is completely beautiful in its own way.

Then they fall to the ground and they all look the same. They conform. They sell out. Those unscrupulous, spineless, yellow-bellied Judas Iscariots. They are the Lib Dems of the weather world. This weekend, it wasn’t the roads that were treacherous, or the “conditions”, it was the pathetic, compliant snowflakes themselves.

I suppose, perhaps, it’s because of some sort of societal pressure. “Don’t think about staying unique forever,” young snowflakes are told, “No single snowflake ever made a snowball, or killed a man in a horrific avalanche. Just look what happened to your Uncle Graupel; he said that thing on Twitter about fairtrade bananas and when his time was up, he melted sad and alone, in the sea.”

There it is. A tenuous link between the weather and something that has happened. Each as much a non-story as the other. It’s snowing? That’s not a lead story. A Parliamentary researcher to a Shadow Minister for Justice has made a joke about the Queen being a scrounger? I was honestly so bored I stopped listening before that sentence finished. Not even the Shadow Justice Secretary. Matt Zarb-Cousin works as a researcher for a guy who works as part of a team for the guy whose job is being Not The Justice Secretary.

What Matt did was to make a joke about the Queen, a very wealthy lady who receives her money from the taxpayer, by using the kind of language the reactionary right wing press use to demonise very poor people who receive their money from the taxpayer. The reactionary right wing press then lived up to their name. It seems a shame to explain Matt’s joke, but I’d become a little worried that some people hadn’t “got it”.

Craig Woodhouse, who wrote up the story for the Evening Standard, appears to be one such person. Then again, that’s understandable when you take into account that he is an idiot. I say this, because he clearly doesn’t believe that Matt using his Twitter biography to say that all views are his own – and therefore, not necessarily those of his employer – means that you can’t then use those views as a reflection of his employer’s. A little ironic then, that Woodhouse chooses to use his own Twitter biography to state that he is “tweeting in a personal capacity”. In the unlikely event that Craig Woodhouse ever says something interesting then we can naturally assume it is a reflection of the views of Alexander Lebedev. Woodhouse defended his story on Twitter by pointing out that the Queen’s 60th Jubilee means that it is 60 years since her father died, making Matts commentsinsensitive.

If she finds that insensitive, we better cancel those Diamond Jubilee celebrations pronto. Those fireworks are gonna look pretty bloody macabre now.

It feels like a story that has been proffered by journalists to people as something that could potentially be offensive. When they asked Matt on Twitter whether he still worked for Andy Slaughter, it wasn’t because so many people had been offended by what he’d said; they were trying to bring the comments to a wider audience in order to find people to be offended. Once that happens, you’ve got your story. Paul Waugh, one of the first to comment on it, later tweeted about Network Rail’s directors foregoing their bonuses as a proper story.

Of course, Matt Zarb-Cousin is Not A Story. It’s a shame he must have had a bad day because of it. He didn’t deserve it and it’s a sad indictment of the political age we’re falling into. People in politics shouldn’t be interesting. They can’t anymore. Being unique might be nice at first, but eventually you have to conform, or you won’t get anywhere. Today Matt was strung up on a lamppost (very possibly the one next to Tom Harris), so everyone could see what happens to you when you dare to be different. When you decide to use your Twitter account to have an opinion rather than some boring, empty platitude about doorknocking. When you decide to phrase your views in a funny way so that maybe, just maybe, someone who isn’t interested in politics might be interested in what you have to say. Heaven forfend we actually try and engage with people.

One wonders if Charlie Elphicke, the backbench rent-a-gob no-mark Tory MP who decried Matt’s tweet as “a shameful slur” will ever have anything interesting to say. What I think is really sad, looking at him, another faceless mannequin of the politico production factory in this country, is that he might once have been a snowflake.

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