This is our truth, tell us yours
Robert Webb has made a massive prick of himself by intervening in politics, citing his own education as evidence of how hard he has worked to get where he is today.
As political interventions go, it’s far funnier than any of his comedy output.
Robert appears exercised by the fact that Jeremy Corbyn didn’t work as hard as him to get where he is today.
Corbyn, of course, got where he is today by being a full time official of NUPE, which, for anyone who remembers NUPE, counts as harder yards than going to Cambridge.
When all’s said and done, Webb is only a comedian with a university degree in English, which is a bit like being a bus driver who’s also a qualified engineer. He may make large amounts of money from various broadcasters, but from where I sit I only have his assertion that he makes funny TV programmes. Comedy is one of those businesses where the fact that someone asserts that they are funny is no guarantee that the audience will laugh.
The idea of Robert’s hard work, getting an English degree while having enough spare time to develop a career in comedy, being harder than sweeping the streets (which is, of course, notoriously easy) is possibly the best joke I can imagine Robert ever coming up with.
Robert Tressell wrote one of the greatest novels about socialism ever, without the benefit of a university education, while working as a painter and decorator. Nye Bevan managed to deliver a National Health Service without ever troubling the matriculation board of Oxford or Cambridge. Ness Edwards notoriously avoided the hard work of a university education by lazily rising to the role of Postmaster General after leaving school of the age of thirteen and opting for a lazy sabbatical underground in a coal mine. Along the way Edwards, without the benefit of a degree, wrote great books, represented his unions’s members, became an MP, served as a minister and changed the lives of the people he served.
Robert Webb has done us all a favour by pointing out that it takes hard work cultivating elite friendships and relationships to get a living from broadcasting in the UK. You have to acknowledge that not everyone is as blessed as the Coren family in their access to broadcasting contracts, and that Webb may feel it was hard work making the right kind of contacts necessary to turn a complete lack of talent into a TV career.
He still comes across, though, as an entitled prick who seems to think that the good luck he has enjoyed is the inevitable product of his hard work. Again Webb may not understand what he has done, but accidentally, he may have defined the dividing line between his own neo-liberalism and a socialism that aspires to treat all work as dignified and worthy of praise.