David Thompson


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December 09, 2009


Wm T Sherman

"Toynbee’s Guardian salary, for years a subject of speculation, was eventually revealed as £106,000 - excluding royalties, advances, media fees, etc."

I want me some of that. Where do I sign up?

But no gobbling of left-wing knobs, or the deal's off.

John D

"It seems, then, that Ms Toynbee only dislikes the wrong kind of rich people, which is to say rich people whose politics and backgrounds may differ from her own."

They're the rival elite. That's why she hates them.


Oh no, fat cats!

"Carolyn McCall is chief executive of Guardian Media Group (GMG), which publishes the Guardian, the Observer

Salary: £498,000"



“Salary: £498,000.”

Actually, that’s her reduced salary. McCall had previously received one of those “monster bonuses” that Polly finds so disgusting – an extra £385,000 - which took McCall’s total pay (inc. benefits) to £827,000. However, after much grumbling from the NUJ, Rusbridger is apparently taking a 10% pay cut this year and McCall is making do without her annual bonus. But neither of them is exactly on the bones of their arse.


Rusbridger bought a Fazioli for £30,000??? Bastard!

Chris S

"I didn't ask for the money"

Didn't earn it either.


I keep waiting in vain for those who saw fit to give Milli Vanilli a Grammy to give back their ill-gotten gains...not to mention anyone who's worked in Hollywood for the last five to ten years...


I keep waiting in vain for those who saw fit to give Milli Vanilli a Grammy to give back their ill-gotten gains...not to mention anyone who's worked in Hollywood for the last five to ten years...

(sorry if this reposts, is there some sort of delay?)

Spiny "two old cars" Norman

Anyone else care to wager Polly "Two Villas" Toynbee has a burr under her saddle about "social climbers"?


I sometimes think Toynbee is instinctively disingenuous. She doesn’t seem to register the contradictions of her worldview and what that implies about her motives. In a recent piece she said, “The right attacks anyone on the left born well-heeled or privately educated as a hypocrite - especially women.”


What Polly is careful to omit from the article is any mention of *why* she’s so often called a hypocrite. (Her critics have offered plenty of reasons, so it’s odd that Polly doesn’t engage with any of the evidence presented over the years.) For instance, Toynbee and her offspring are beneficiaries of selective education and some of the most expensive schools in the country, yet she wishes to impose a comprehensive education on everyone else. Other people must not have the choices she and her offspring have - because not having those choices will somehow be good for them. And what other term should be used for a millionaire socialist with a spare Tuscan villa who has the gall to tell her readers, “money doesn’t make us happier”? Such glaring hypocrisy leads to a suspicion that Toynbee’s motives aren’t so much altruistic as an attempt to deflect envy from below and excuse her own privileges. She seems to wear her socialism as a kind of rhetorical chaff. (“Don’t hate me for being rich – look, over there - they have even more! Let’s all hiss at them!”)

sackcloth and ashes

Polly does have a habit of bearing grudges. After all, she was particularly spiteful to Auberon Waugh after his death (when he was in no position to respond), being no doubt upset about how he used to rip the piss out of her when she was alive.

Her original 'article' is here:


Incidentally, Ms Toynbee (who clearly lives in an irony-free zone) is the co-author of a book entitled 'Unjust Rewards'. The puff-piece (sorry, 'review') in the 'Indie' said that it should be 'compulsory reading for anyone on £162,000 and over'. Perhaps she sent free copies to Mr Rusbridger and Ms McCall.

sackcloth and ashes

'One such figure was Polly Toynbee, a hardened campaigner of the 'liberal left', whom Papa had long regarded as the preposterous embodiment of all that is most self-important, humourless and wrong-headed within his own profession. She was stung by the glowing obituaries he received and decided, while his body was still awaiting interment on a mortuary slab in Taunton, to launch an impassioned counterblast in the Guardian. The effect of this could not have been more explosive or more satisfactory. Just as I feared the press was about to wander from the subject, as the bleak prospect of a January burial was all that lay ahead by way of comfort to the grieving, a new fire was ignited: Papa was briefly revivified.

Toynbee's piece cannot be easily summarised because its gist was clouded by too many swipes at her enemies among the living. If her readers were either hoping for or expecting a prize-fight between Ms Toynbee and a dead man they must have been disappointed: all they got was a bewildering melee of emotional ringside scraps. What was it all about? Well, at the root of Ms Toynbee's article could be heard a distant wail of indignation, not so much at Auberon Waugh himself as at his influence. This she termed 'the world of Auberon Waugh', and characterised as 'a coterie of reactionary fogeys ... effete, drunken, snobbish, sneering, racist and sexist'.

Her article caused a nationwide explosion of support for the deceased. 'Never,' wrote the eminent Keith Waterhouse in his Daily Mail column, 'never in a lifetime spent in this black trade have I read a nastier valedictory for a fellow scribe.' 'Polly put the kettle on,' howled the Telegraph's leader writer, while the New Statesman hit back with: 'Polly Toynbee is wrong. The writer she reviled as a 'ghastly man' should be celebrated alongside George Lansbury and Fidel Castro as a hero of the left.'

[The latter quote did actually come from Neil Clark, who is a world-class, dick, but there you go - S&A]

I swung my own fist into the ruckus with a riposte published on the letters page the following day:

"In an earnest piece (Ghastly Man, January 19) Polly Toynbee registered her views on the death of a humorous journalist a few days ago. 'We might let Auberon Waugh rest in peace,' she heaved, 'were it not for the mighty damage his clan has done to British political life, journalism and discourse in the post war years.'

This was illustrated by a drawing of my father's corpse being washed down a lavatory, in much the same way as pee, paper and faecal matter is sluiced on a daily basis. Regular readers, who respect the Comment & Analysis pages, may have thought that the illustration was to be taken equally seriously as Ms Toynbee's high-minded and heartfelt article. Rest assured.

Auberon Waugh's 'clan' does not intend to compound the 'mighty damage' it has already done to this country by disposing of his body in this unhygienic manner. We shall ensure that all health and safety regulations are observed when the great man is buried in Somerset on Wednesday"'.




I like the Telegraph profile of Polly Dearest. Best line: “The public, in reality, is an alien force to her. She has nothing in common with it, doesn’t live among it, and appears baffled by the logic of even giving it a say.”

Exactly. What runs throughout most of Toynbee’s writing is an assumption that she knows best – that she, and those who think like her, should be in charge. Everyone else should basically stop grumbling, pay even more tax and let her get on with improving the species from above. It’s practically a caste thing. But that’s the thing with socialists. They badmouth greed in others while funding their own social preferences with money they didn’t earn.

I also like the observation that Toynbee is totally devoid of “any trace of humour or sense of her own ridiculousness.” There’s a po-faced obliviousness and I think that’s important, psychologically. When presented with evidence that she’s incoherent or hypocritical, she just gets flustered, as if such information were indigestible. There doesn’t seem to be any interval during which she reflects on her own assumptions and motives. She’s so oblivious to her own contradictions that she even gets felled by Richard Littlejohn and reduced to sub-verbal twitching:


sackcloth and ashes

If someone like Richard Littlejohn can make you look like a tit on 'Question Time', you know you've hit rock bottom.


I write quite often that

Socialism = Narcissism + Envy + Projection.


Bloody delicious...


The reason we don't rise up and slaughter them is?

Wm T Sherman

Say, was "limousine liberal" ever a common term in Britain?

Horace Dunn

Over here we tended to use the terms Champagne Socialist, or the more amusing Bollinger Bolshevik.

But these terms don't really seem appropriate for a ghastly, bloodless creature like Toynbee.


She does seem to radiate anti-charisma. You could put her in a room and watch the plants start to wilt and the wallpaper fade.


I always think she'd be perfect for the role of "Diana Moon Glampers" in a film version of "Harrison Bergeron".


Speaking of which...


sackcloth and ashes

Polly's kind is best satirised in the short stories of the Edwardian author Hector Hugh Munro (aka 'Saki'). Her kind is best epitomised by the character of Sophie Chattel-Monkheim ('a socialist by conviction and a Chattel-Monkheim by marriage') in his short story 'The Byzantine Omlette', which is an absolute hoot. David, if you haven't got a copy of Saki's collected works, they are worth purchasing.


I recall reading the short story that "2081" film came from, "Harrison Bergeron". Had to look it up on Wiki and was surprised to see it was by Vonnegut, whom I had read much of back in the day. Funny how I didn't remember him being the author of this as I recalled the story well (but I think I got some of it mixed up with "We"). Written in 1961, is it me or does it seem somewhat at odds with Vonnegut in his later years?



In his later years Vonnegut conformed to the standard role of Disaffected Creative Person – i.e., incoherent, vaguely leftist and anti-American with rumblings of eco-catastrophism. I seem to remember he even compared Bush to Hitler, as was the fashion in those days, and got a big onscreen “thank you” from Michael Moore. In a 2005 interview he described jihadist suicide bombers as “brave people,” adding, “it is sweet and noble - sweet and honourable I guess it is - to die for what you believe in.” Which if nothing else shows a capacity for glib unrealism. And that’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect from Disaffected Creative People. Think, for instance, of Gore Vidal’s descent into moonbattery.

Karen M


"she'd be perfect for the role of "Diana Moon Glampers" in a film version of "Harrison Bergeron"."

British schooling, Polly-style...

"As many as three-quarters of state schools are failing to push their brightest pupils because teachers are reluctant to promote 'elitism', an Ofsted study says today. Many teachers are not convinced of the importance of providing more challenging tasks for their gifted and talented pupils. Bright youngsters told inspectors they were forced to ask for harder work."



"What runs throughout most of Toynbee’s writing is an assumption that she knows best"

Lady Mary in "Porterhouse Blue". 100% accurate parody.

KB Player

It was no doubt nasty of Polly Toynbee to write a diatribe against Waugh before a decent interval. But he really was a shit writer. I'm ready to withdraw this if somone could show me a piece by this so called "humorous journalist" that was actually funny.


"Such glaring hypocrisy leads to a suspicion that Toynbee's motives aren't so much altruistic as an attempt to deflect envy from below and excuse her own privileges. She seems to wear her socialism as a kind of rhetorical chaff. ("Don't hate me for being rich – look, over there - they have even more! Let's all hiss at them!")"

Brilliant. :)


Well, Polly could always give half of her earnings to someone she deems deserving. Half of £106,000 is still - for most of us - a life-changing sum. She could do this every year. Ditto her media fees and publishing income, etc. She could even sell the Tuscan villa, or give it away. These would not be trivial gestures.

But clearly this isn’t what Polly wants. It seems that what she wants is to tell *others* how much of their earnings they should be *compelled* to hand over, regardless of whether they share Polly’s egalitarian pretensions.

sackcloth and ashes

'I'm ready to withdraw this if somone could show me a piece by this so called "humorous journalist" that was actually funny.'

You could try reading the piece in which he explains his inglorious service as a subbie in the Horse Guards, which ended when he shot himself with his own machine-gun. Funny, and self-deprecating, IMHO:


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