Grilled Grayling

When I worked in one of the most deprived areas of Liverpool, some of the residents referred to it as Beirut. Sure there were problems but those who lived there were merely using black humour rather than making any astute political analogy. Similarly, when I was best man at a friend's wedding, I caused a few chortles when using the same, tired analogy about the local nightclub where the condemned pair met.

However, none of the exponents of the cliche were expecting to be a senior member of the next government as Chris Grayling is.

His ridiculous, sensationalist claim that living in Moss Side in Manchester was akin to being a bit part actor in The Wire will hopefully backfire. His grilling by Gordon Burns on BBC NW Tonight showed him to be insensitive at best. His views may play well with the Cheshire set in Altrincham as it creates a sense of self-satisfaction at avoiding the broken Britain down the road, but it has - like Sarah Ferguson's patronising interference into Northern Moor (also in Manchester) - provoked a reaction.

As yesterday's story about the bumptious Brain Sewell shows, proud cities can admit failings but take umbrage at outside hyperbole for effect from outsiders.


michael.braisher said...

Grayling's probably big and bad enough to defend himself but in itself I don't see what's wrong in describing a trouble place as Beirut.

It's no insult to the decent people of such a place, nor is it just joking. I never meant it literally when I said that I didn't want to buy my rented flat in case the area 'turned into Beirut' but I'm still apprehensive about a place going downhill.

At the end of the day it's the knuckledraggers responsible for ruining a place to live. So why shy away from discussing 'Beirut' just on their account as normal people the country over don't want scumbags ruining what should be peaceful areas in which to see your life through.

It's not what you say you should worry about but how you say it.