Stewart Lee and his UKIP routine

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Stewart Lee and his UKIP routine

Postby Gavin » 25 Sep 2015, 12:00

This morning at 8:10 Paul Nuttall of UKIP was interviewed on the Today Programme.

Afterwards, Twitter was alive with left-wingers, most of whom seemed to work for “charities” or had names such as “Death to Capitalism”. Many were linking to a video by the stand-up comedian Stewart Lee:

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They obviously found this video very funny:

Let’s now consider whether it was a fair representation of UKIP’s actual position and therefore whether it was relevant - or even moral - to laugh at what was being said. (Be sure to follow the links to enhance the experience of this.)

Lee begins by deliberately saying UKIP’s name incorrectly, pluralising it. This might seem trivial. In fact (as slave owners and bullies know), denying a party or an individual even their proper name is a subtle way to belittle their very existence, and that's the aim here.

The comedian begins to repeat himself within 16 seconds. This is Lee's style, which he will continue throughout the video. He repeats himself time and time again, apparently to garner laughs. Whether this is funny may be a matter of opinion, but it might also be regarded as poor value for money: as with a Discovery Channel documentary, if you cut out all the repeats, you’d have a lot more time for valid new content. It’s a ploy that seems to work well for Mr Lee, though.

Immediately engaging in ad hominem (mere insult and no real argument at all) against UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage, Lee pulls out a slip of paper and declares that “a character is defined in the Dictionary of Theatre as 'something that gives the illusion of being a person’”. There is such a thing as the Penguin Dictionary of the Theatre. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Lee might have been referring to this, but at a character is defined as "the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing”. Laughter ensued nonetheless.

Lee says that when he was young, a "protest vote” was voting for someone “nice who might not get in, like the Greens”. With this, Lee is saying that UKIP are not “nice", and that the Greens are. But UKIP seem nice enough to 4.5 million UK voters, and indeed seem to have their concerns at heart, while many regard the Greens not as “nice” but as very deluded and indeed dangerous. These points of view don’t matter to Lee. He casually asserts that UKIP are “nasty” and goes on to compare voting for them to “shitting in your hotel bed”. Charming, but still no facts.

Incorrectly pluralising his name again - presumably for comedic effect - Lee declares that “Paul Nuttalls” is the Deputy Leader of "the UKIPs”. (What a stroke of genius this pluralising is - he certainly gets some laughs from it.) His line of ridicule now is to fault Mr Nuttall for saying that highly skilled Bulgarians are "better off using those skills to benefit their own countries than serving tea and coffee in the UK". One would think there was no room for objection to such a common sense remark, but Lee mocks it in juvenile manner, beginning by saying that he (Lee) lives in London and wants cheap tea and coffee.

Repeating the phrase “Paul Nuttalls of the UKIPs from Liverpool” countless times (and being paid all the time for saying it), Lee says to Paul Nuttall: “Stay in Liverpool where you belong”. In as much as he is trying to construct an argument at all and not seeking cheap laughs, Lee is trying to apply Nuttall’s comment to Nuttall himself. In doing so he ignores the fact that Liverpool is actually part of the UK.

Lee drops in the false claim (including another ad hominem) that Mr Nuttall’s main activity is “going on and on about the past in a whiney voice”. Whether this is true or not doesn't matter to Lee, we will see: this routine is not about facts, it is only about mischaracterisation and cheap laughs, wherever they can be had - from ad hominems, straw men, it's all the same to him. There isn't any dignity in what he is doing.

We cut away to some post-modern self-mockery where Lee agrees that he tries to make people confused and frightened, but doesn’t actually say anything funny. The interviewer (apparently Chris Morris) says he is not sure whether this is smug or psychotic. This interview is probably wonderfully clever self parody, but it certainly contains grains of truth as Lee’s routine does come across as very smug. Whether he is actually psychotic, however, is another matter. Two can play at dictionary definitions: psychosis is "a mental disorder characterised by symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, that indicate impaired contact with reality”. While Lee certainly seems to be deluded, he probably isn’t. He is not that innocent. He is deliberately and knowingly misrepresenting UKIP and the concerns of their voters in order to get a laugh the easiest way.

Lee explains that he is speaking in December 2013, and by 2014 if "the UKIPs” are right, we will have been swamped by Bulgarians". According to the Wikipedia, the number of Bulgarian-born people resident in the UK has increased from 5,351 in 2001 to 35,000 in 2010. The Bulgarian government estimates the number as closer to 70,000 or 80,000.

Here is how the Office for National Statistics summarises immigration from Bulgaria and Romania in recent years:


That's right, it rose by 30,000 between 2013 and 2014, and they're only the ones we know about.

Lee says he appreciates that he will now look like “the worst kind of BBC liberal apologist idiot” if we are all now watching him with Bulgarian subtitles. Straw men are free to set up and easy to knock down. Nobody said we’d be watching him with Bulgarian subtitles (though perhaps some are?). Many are concerned however that our own British unemployed should be fit for work in our economy and obliged to work rather than rest on welfare, they are concerned about the undercutting of wages and they are concerned that massive waves of immigration will undermine our social cohesion. They are also concerned that we effectively have no functional border control and that criminals are being allowed in who are murdering people. Lee apparently doesn't care about murder victims or rape victims. No, anyone who calls caution on the idea of unfettered immigration is quite simply a xenophobe.

He now spends some considerable time saying that “the UKIPs” object to Bulgarians because they are skilled. Exaggerating and misrepresenting arguments and positions, he uses comedy of the absurd in order to garner laughs. But the absurdity is entirely of his own making and he is hopefully being laughed at as much as being laughed with. Lee attributes concern over mass immigration to xenophobia, pure and simple. There is nothing else to say about it, according to him. Never mind the feelings of alienation people have when around them nobody is speaking their own language any more or shows any interest in learning it. Never mind English families being unable to feed their children because groups of Polish men have arrived and live six to a room thereby undercutting prices. Never mind the intolerant and backward religion of Islam becoming ever more dominant resulting in predictable scandals such as the Birmingham schools affair and the Rochdale (indeed national) rape gangs atrocity. We could go on and on, of course, but we’ll let Lee continue demonising ordinary English people who find themselves increasingly to be strangers in their own land, surrounded by people who too often show no interest in assimilating, and indeed people who merely extract money from the British economy and send it back “home”.

Lee is a fan of Pakistanis having brought us curry. We’re aware curry is nice, but it may not be as nice as national security and social cohesion, and it might just have been possible for us to have the curry without mass immigration. Perhaps Lee needs to be informed that there is in fact more to a culture than its cuisine. There have for example been more than 137,000 cases of female genital mutilation in the UK but there has not been a single conviction. Don’t expect a video from Lee about this any time soon - rely on others.

Mr Lee compares modern mass immigration with the migration of Huguenots to England from France in the 18th century. Around 50,000 migrated, which was a lot at the time. Of course, England was far less densely populated so could much more easily accommodate such an amount, and evidence is that they integrated well - no beheadings. According to the Wikipedia once again (commonly known to be biased to the left, if anything): “For France, however, the exodus of Huguenots created a brain drain, as many Huguenots had occupied important places in society. The kingdom did not fully recover for years.” Don’t expect Lee to be concerned about that. For him again it is a simple matter of xenophobia. He says “We don’t want lace, we’ve got corderoy”, as if we cannot trade with lace makers from abroad to their own benefit.

Continuing with his history lesson, Lee discusses the Anglo-Saxons. Existing inhabitants of Great Britain were xenophobic to object to their arrival, he implies. One wonders is he feels the same about Native Americans faced with the arrival of Europeans. They were just xenophobic. There were actually very few people in the UK before the Anglo Saxon period and it is arguably the beginning of the country and its majority population as we know it today. The period to which Lee refers continued for 500 years. There were frequent wars and invasions, however, and the period was not idyllic. Never mind the facts when you’re doing comedy. It’s just UKIP and its xenophobia - it’s as simple as that. Lee characterises concerned people as snarling and hateful, when actually they’re often just ordinary people who want to retain some semblance of the society they know in their own country. Why does he not criticise the Saudis or the Indians for wanting the same?

Lee’s main thrust is that those who are concerned about mass immigration are not progressive. How “progressive” is it to be unconcerned about the ever-growing spread of seventh century Islam in Europe? Not very. By adopting the extreme position he does Lee is saying that, for him, all immigration is a wonderful thing and anybody who objects to it in any way is simply xenophobic and worthy of mockery. This is of course a rather nasty and reductive misrepresentation of legitimate concerns. Moving on to the “Beaker folk” and the Neolithic people, Lee continually screws up his face in supposed impersonation of Paul Nuttall (shamelessly attaching all of his straw man arguments to him) and continues.

A left-wing comedy routine would hardly be complete without obscenity, and Lee will of course oblige (though parodying his right-wing xenophobic character). “You finned cunt”, he says with a snarl. Don’t expect any feminists to object to this - he's on the Left.

At this point Lee is becoming so absurd that one does have the impression the audience is laughing as much at him as with him. He adopts a (more) juvenile tone and begins singing a childish song (this is about as far from true wit as one could go), repeating himself all the time as usual. In an incredible display of immaturity for a 45 year-old man (perhaps befitting of the old children’s television programme Rainbow) Lee continues his song, presumably still in the character of his right-winger - this, you see, is “surrealist” comedy. We are now supposed to laugh at the fact that Lee is really not making any sense at all. His arguments have been fully taken to absurd extremes (but we are still supposed associate them in our minds with his target, Paul Nuttall).

Comedy is known for taking arguments to absurd levels. But when this is done at the same time of attributing those positions to real people, this is arguably invidious and wrong. Many will believe the comedian, who is lying - simply see Twitter.

Lee sarcastically says something he has said before: that he is sure Paul Nuttall’s main concern is the prosperity of Bulgaria. Of course, it isn’t, and Paul Nuttall has never said it is. His main concern is the prosperity of the UK. Is there something wrong with that? It was merely a passing remark, and a well founded one, that it may not be in Bulgaria’s interests to have a great many of its most capable people leave the country.

The comedian continues to casually characterise UKIP as homophobic and climate change denying. Far be it from him to ever accuse Muslims of homophobia, or to examine whether there are actually any grounds at all for such “denial”. People just must not have that opinion - nor must they be in favour of people’s right to smoke if that’s what they want to do.

Coming to a close, Mr Lee says he is protected from many of the concerns that turn people against foreigners, because he lives comfortably in Hackney. He mentions that Hackney is culturally diverse, however then adds that those people “are not really in this audience”.

How very true that is! Has he stopped to consider why? Lee is now reversing his position somewhat, then, trying to undo the ludicrous positions he has adopted (and attributed to Paul Nuttall of UKIP) previously. He speaks of the way that Hackney primary schools must now equally celebrate every festival of every culture (instead of merely educating children). Casually grouping “Telegraph readers” and “EDL members” together - as if both are necessarily the same and both are to be condemned outright - Lee jokes that he sent his child to school to celebrate English tradition by dressing her as “a 1970s football hooligan”. That, then, is Lee’s idea of what appreciating English culture and tradition must be.

At this point, Lee is cut off - the video has ended. He has been known to defend his absurd (in every sense) comedy by claiming that if Jeremy Clarkson can say idiotic or tasteless things, then he should be able to as well. This seems a very weak defence for saying things that aren’t true, being obscene and childish and indeed being really quite tedious and boring. What a way to spend a life. And what a way to spend an evening and hard earned money going to see him. Yet this was the response of the Left this morning after Paul Nuttall spoke on the Today Programme. This is really the best they could do - to point to a comedy routine that is nothing but an absurd misrepresentation and exaggeration of UKIP’s concerns. Perhaps, if this is all we’re up against - this and Jeremy Corbyn - the battle of ideas is going to be a lot, lot easier for the right (and the middle of he road), to win after all.
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Re: Stewart Lee and his UKIP routine

Postby Charlie » 25 Sep 2015, 14:20

Nicely put, Gavin.

Stewart Lee is, along with all the polytechnic (cultural) marxists who follow him, mostly a product of late twentieth century popular culture, which, unfortunately, has enfeebled his mind to such an extent that he is utterly clueless about or blind to the challenges facing the West in the 21st century.

Reality, though, will out, and I think that the progressive narrative will continue to fall apart; there is plenty of evidence around to prove that. Furthermore, I think that science will soon render the progressive worldview irrelevant, and that certain thoughtcrimes are likely to become mainstream soon. What do I mean? Well, to give you one example, and I don't want to wander massively off-topic here, Gavin, but Charles Murray, in a recent conversation with Stefan Molyneux (who, to use a cheesy term, seems to have turned more "red-pill" of late, and he's all the better for it) said the following:

[28:45] I think that the listeners need to realize: we are talking about a coming revolution in the social sciences that is going to be profound. E. O. Wilson wrote a wonderful book called "Consilience" in the late 1990s, where he foresaw the conjoining of the social sciences and biology over the course of the 21st century.

Everything he wrote in that book has been vindicated in the years since. The process is going on, and by the end of the 21st century, a great deal of social science is going to be permeated by our understanding of the role of genes in explaining all sorts of things that we have tried to explain without appealing to genes.

Here’s the problem: the reigning orthodoxy throughout the social sciences right now is to cover your eyes, close your ears and refuse to think about the role of genes. Are there a few exceptions? Yeah, but only a few. So you have a reigning orthodoxy, which says "no, no, no, no, there can’t be important genetic explanations for these social problems. It’s bad institutions, it’s inequitable economic systems, it’s this that and the other thing."

They say these kinds of thing frantically. And they attack, frantically, people who try to deny that. Alright, that dominates academia, it dominates the political debate about social issues. Within the course of the next decade, that position is going to be proved, definitively, to be absolutely wrong. How is this reigning intellectual orthodoxy going to make the u-turn it’s going to have to make?

In other words, the (smug) views of the progressive establishment (take a bow, Stewart Lee) will soon become inadmissable.
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Re: Stewart Lee and his UKIP routine

Postby Gavin » 25 Sep 2015, 17:25

Thanks. Yes, I too have been watching a lot of Stefan Molyneux recently and have also noticed he seems to have become a lot more "red pill". There have been some very good videos from him which I have retweeted. It is a pleasure when people like him and Paul Joseph Watson call out the inconsistency and absurdity of the Left's positions.

I agree the tide is changing and you make a very good point about genetics probably being a complete game changer in due course. The wishful thinking of the Left will come crashing down when science proves certain matters which most people perceive from their everyday lives anyway.

The mainstream media are not "on side" yet, but with every news story it is becoming more difficult for them to place the people they would like to as victims and there are more and more people who they cannot have on air as guests because their opinions (quite regardless of - or perhaps I should say specifically because of - their truth value) are not "correct".

We have further to go yet in the decline, it seems, but then prior to collapse a new narrative of unapologetic realism might well prevail.
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