Magazine article The Spectator

Right, If Incorrect

Magazine article The Spectator

Right, If Incorrect

Article excerpt

HOW TO BE RIGHT by James Delingpole Headline Review, £12.99, pp. 182, ISBN 9780755315901 . £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655

You have to admire boldness in a writer. It's actually a rare commodity these days -- most of us don't have the talent or the temperament or the energy to write exactly the way we feel, or we're too sensible or too ambitious. James Delingpole is an exception.

Week after week, with enviable fearlessness, he writes a television column in which he admits that he really only likes watching documentaries about the second world war on the History Channel. Then, from time to time, he breaks off from writing about the telly to complain about how little money he makes and how unfair it is that he hasn't been given a lucrative column on the Mail or the Telegraph. In journalistic terms this is what Sir Humphrey Appleby would call 'courageous'. Whenever I bump into James, part of me wants to shake him and shout, 'No! You're going about it the wrong way!

You've got to play it cool! If you want your column you've got to pretend that it's the last thing you want, and then you might get it!' But obviously I don't, as I'm far too polite.

Besides, the other part of me admires that reckless candour.

Another route to the overpaid column, though, is the bestselling book. Delingpole has already published three novels without overwhelming success, and apparently there are more on the way. In the meantime arrives this strange little volume, a Christmas book in all but timing, a humorous polemic on right-wingness. James is, of course, fantastically right wing, and likes nothing better than to stick it up the noses of the lefty liberals he despises. Indeed, the book is subtitled 'The Essential Guide to Making Lefty Liberals History', which to me is an irresistible taunt.

Although I may have been writing for The Spectator for nearly 20 years, I would certainly describe myself as a 'lefty liberal'. Good grief, I live in north London, I'm not married to the mother of my children, who go to Steiner schools, and I wouldn't vote Conservative if you paid me (although, admittedly, no one has yet offered). As far as Delingpole is concerned, I am exactly the sort of person who should be reading his book.

So it's curious that I find myself agreeing with so much that he says. …

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