Giles Fraser: the Rev JC Flannel meets Dave Spart

August 9, 2015 at 6:53 am (Beyond parody, Christianity, Guardian, Islam, islamism, Jim D, plonker, relativism, religion, secularism)

Giles Fraser: smug, banal idiot

If asked to nominate the most annoying commentator presently to be heard and read in the British mainstream media, I think I’d go for Giles Fraser – the Guardian‘s ‘Loose Cannon’ and regular contributor to Radio 4’s ‘Thought For Today’ and ‘The Moral Maze.’ I am, of course, ignoring right-wing scum like Toby Young, Rod Liddle and Katie Hopkins: they’re simply beyond the pale and so don’t really annoy me. Liberals and leftists with whom I’m supposed to be on the same side, are the ones who infuriate me – and none more so than Fraser.

What I object to most about Fraser is not so much his sanctimony (after all he is a priest of some sort), nor yet his evident stupidity. It’s his smugness – his wheedling, self-righteous tone (to be heard on the radio and sensed from his Guardian columns), implying that he’s got something really profound to tell us, when all it is, is a load of half-baked relativist bollocks from someone whose political education stems from a brief passage through the SWP at university. He really is a caricature comes true – or rather two caricatures, both old favourites from Private Eye: the Rev JC Flannel and Dave Spart.

If Fraser has any consistency, its’s his admiration for Islam and – indeed – politicised Islam or Islamism. We’ve had cause to take him up on this before, when he endorsed Lady Warsi’s suggestion that criticism of Islam is the last acceptable  form of racism, but his most recent swooning in the Graun over Islam is perhaps his most preposterous yet – comparing militant, politicised Islam (ie Islamism) with … the Levellers (a movement, you may recall, that was rather keen on democracy). He also doesn’t seem to ‘get’ the point that it is quite possible to encourage violence yourself, whilst remaining personally uninvolved in any acts of violence: for Fraser the concept of non-violent extremism is, by definition, not a matter of concern and he goes on to suggest that to to attack it “is simply an attack on thinking big, thinking differently and arguing passionately.”

Presumably, as a C of E priest (albeit a turbulent one), Fraser has no theological sympathy with Islam. What seems to excite him about it (and he’s not alone amongst Christians and other non-Islamic religious people here) is its militancy, assertiveness, and willingness to engage in politics. How he wishes the dull, inoffensive, middle class C of E would show just a little of Islam’s virility! He spells it out in his piece for the Graun, entitled “I believe in an authority greater than David Cameron’s. Am I an extremist?”:

“And then along comes Islam – and, thankfully, it disrupts this absurd game and refuses to play by the rules. Its practitioners want to talk about God, sex and politics rather than mortgages, school places and the latest Boden catalogue. And good for them.”

To be honest, when I read Fraser’s ridiculous piece I felt annoyance and frustration that such rubbish gets published in a ‘serious’ newspaper. But I couldn’t be arsed to write a reply. Life’s too short to respond to every example to half-baked nonsense spouted by prating prelates. So I’m happy to hand over at this point to the author of a new blog, Exit Pursued By Bear:

Giles Fraser’s recent defence of radical Islam from what he sees as David Cameron’s assault on it – has grown to become the focus of the piece. What’s interesting about this article is that both on its surface, and on every level underlying the surface, it’s nonsense confected with absurdity: a liberal Christian minister writing in defence of the most totalitarian and oppressive interpretations of a faith he doesn’t belong to. Nowhere does Fraser indicate that he finds the views obnoxious, but nevertheless wishes, Voltaire-style, to advocate their right to be expressed. Quite the opposite: he seems enraptured by the audacity of asserting, frankly, medieval ideas as – at the very least – worthy of consideration, and caricaturing those who hold qualms about this type of approach as not just opponents of free speech but the modern-day equivalents of those who would shoot the Levellers. The interesting question then becomes: what explains this monumental myopia on the part of somebody who is clearly well-educated and whose heart, broadly speaking, appears to be in the right place?

Read the full piece here

And has the wretched Fraser even considered where the exciting “refusal to play by the rules” by people who “want to talk about God, sex and politics” can lead in, say, Bangladesh?


  1. Mike Killingworth said,

    Name a man (or woman) of the cloth of whom you wholeheartedly approve – there must be at least one right-wing Israeli rabbi who fills the bill,,,

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Awww Mike, don’t you know that religion is the opiate of the masses and hinders class consciousness? I/We here disapprove of it all, we are not like your chums in the SWP who love the non-white & anti-American religions!
      As for the right-wing rabbis, they can go fuck themselves too.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Agreed, Steven.

  2. Glasgow Working Class said,

    I do not mind listening to clergy as long as they leave out religion. Why go on about something you cannot prove exists. Better than grafting for a living I suppose.

  3. damon said,

    There is someone worse than Giles Fraser.
    Bishop Stephen Lowe is just awful. A wishy-washy liberal of the worst order.
    He’s on the radio tonight on BBC five live at midnight, where he does a newspaper review with the equally terrible right wing American neo-con Charlie Wolf.
    The two of them are so bad that it actually makes for amusing listening sometimes.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Just as well no one pays them any heed. In this country we are free to change the channel/station.

      • damon said,

        Well I’m going to tune in, in a couple of hours.
        It’s the Stephen Nolan show and I can’t work out who is worse, the Bishop, or Charlie Wolf.
        They bicker so much and the Bishop gets nearly apoplectic with Wolf – who is so hawkish and right wing it’s actually funny.

    • Jim Denham said,

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        He may be stupid however his comments like those who say the holocaust did not happen although they know it did must have a mission and motivation…. Not many anti-semetics will admit to it.

  4. Steven Johnston said,

    Thanks Jim…though I did not want to de-rail this thread by taking it off-topic. But let’s just tell the truth, that some on the left are afraid of attacking certain religions for fear of being (bizarrely) labelled as racist.
    I find that if quote what Marx says then you’re fine.

  5. Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Clause Four Moment”. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    […] Jonathan Jones is a hot contender with Giles Fraser nominated by Shiraz for the “most annoying” semi-literate commentator in the mainstream UK […]

  6. Blood, Bombs and Rock and Roll | Max Dunbar said,

    […] with this response to Giles Fraser’s piece last week. I certainly cannot equal the wit of my old Shiraz comrade Jim Denham, who describes Fraser as ‘a caricature comes true – or rather two caricatures, both old […]

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