Simon Heffer is Beaker or Why most right-wing columnists had youths as left-wing firebrands

Spoiler: They realised the cash for racism was more plentiful.

someone on twittter on Twitter: "brendan o'neill but with each post his  forehead gets bigger: a thread… "

If you don’t know who Simon Heffer is then I am hugely envious of your beautiful life. He’s best described as what would have happened if Beaker from The Muppets had been brought up on a diet of right-wing doggerel and pseudo-fascist thinking then sent to ply his trade at The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail. Heffer is a malignant growth on the taint of journalism. And aged 60, he looks unlikely to ever retire.

I raise Heffer because of his Sunday Telegraph column this week in which he becomes 100th right-wing columnist to suggest that we should sacrifice people to his true god — the rapacious demon known as the Economy.

It’s not that I think Heffer is evil, it’s just that I think he would turn up at Satan’s dinner party with a ludicrously expensive bottle of wine and spend the evening complimenting the host on how efficient the roiling furnaces of hell have become.

Like many of the most obscene right-wing hacks in the British media, Heffer started out as a left-winger, but like the rest, he realised that the ladder to a large pension and an almost unshakeable position in the commentariat was made from solidified spittle thrown from the mouths of the monsters who came before him.

These turncoats occupy positions across the media — from Janet Daly at The Telegraph, who was once an underground press firebrand, to the dim David Aaronovitch — a regular victim of the wallet inspector — who has spent his whole career disavowing his youthful left-wing thinking and the Communism of his own parents. It is useful to understand the pasts of these opportunistic creatures because they contain everything you need to know to understand their often illogical antipathy to any left of Benito Mussolini.


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There is also a younger generation, typified by people like Sarah Ditum, for whom exposure to the excesses of the ‘gender-critical’ movement has led to writing almost exclusively to right-wing outlets such as Unherd, The Spectator and, most bogglingly, The Critic, while still believing they are fundamentally of the left.

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The most notorious example of left-turned-right Norma Desmondism is Claire Fox who, elevated to the House of Lords by Boris Johnson, and having essayed hard-right positions for decades, insists she is still of the left. She is joined in that bizarre intellectual positioning by Spiked’s notorious BoN — Brendan O’Neill, whose intellectual dissonance is larger than his forehead. For O’Neill, it is the left that has got small, not his mentality.

It is possible to move further left as you get older. If my trajectory continues as it has, by the time I am 60, I will be in the mountains, carrying an AK-47 and attempting to hunt down the last stragglers from the ruined rump of Priti Patel’s neo-fascist army. I can’t wait. Start running now Brendan, all those medals are going to weigh you down.