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The Papers: Digby puts the fear on yesterday’s Marxists

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The Papers BBC News

The Papers is a touching show, dedicated every night at 11.30pm to the ebbing number who still know what the papers are, and why.

Quite often hosted by That Guy, who did it last night, and sometimes by That Woman, it serves up the next day’s news (from the papers, which means it will be yesterday’s news in a few minutes) and gives it a gentle poaching.

It might seem insipid, but it has a nagging hook. It’s like Catchphrase. The two-heads-and-a-host format is set up to generate chemistry and frisson between the pair under interrogation. Sideways glances are heavy with meaning.

And it doesn’t come better set up than pairing Digby Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham, former trade minister and cross-bench ‘business is my constituency’ peer, with Guardian writer Dawn Foster. You might as well gently sprinkle itching powder into DJ’s starched collar. A real Bert and Ernie matchup. It’s surprising Dawn’s jumper didn’t set him off right away, but he resisted for a while.

You’ve been hearing a bit less in the media lately from Digby. Probably since he said George Osborne deserved a big pat on the back. But he can’t resist getting out of the boardroom from time to time to tickle the public with some hardline businessism.

This effort wasn’t up to his Foghorn Leghorn CBI period. He tried to stay levelled and even agreed with Dawn on a couple of things. But like a grasping infant on one of those eat-the-sweet-now-or-wait-for-a-reward test, Digby caved and ate the sweet as soon as it was presented.

The sweet was a Labour plan to let customers vote on executive pay. Pretty mental, right? I don’t expect to influence remuneration for the board at Red Stripe or TK Maxx. I’m happy with their products and they can take what they want. I’ve had my fun.

Dawn tried a reasoned explanation, while Digby’s face started to wobble, bubble and crease, like a fleshy volcano.

“We’ve never done the paper review together, and I was very pleased to see how we weren’t falling out,” he said, falling out. 

You don’t need to fall out, said That Guy.

But then Digby said that there was also another article saying Labour were promising everyone free beer on Fridays, and a lot of money on Tuesdays. Which doesn’t add up. With the lot of money, we won’t need the free beer.

Then That Guy had to point out Digby was making it up.

But on he ploughed, making it up. Typical of a Marxist hard-left business-hating party, he said. How do you identify a customer?! You shop for 43 weeks at Tesco, you get Green Shield Stamps and a vote on the bosses’ pay?!? In a digital world you’re going to have a customer in Moscow and Bucharest!

You’d hope so. One in each, at least.

All Labour want is to make everything either compulsory or forbidden, said Digby, distancing himself from his days in the Labour government. Interesting, that, as it went unchallenged.

Then he grumbled about unjustified payoffs being grist to Corbyn’s Marxist mill. It’s a mill now, see? With satanic management, grinding the bosses on its wheels. And anyway there won’t be a business community – they’ll all have gone to another country. Then they’ll end up taxing all the poor because there won’t be anyone to pay the tax!

It was florid Digby, a multipurpose Project Fear template. Then he recanted and said they’re not Marxists today (presumably only on Tuesdays and Fridays). But they are hard left, he added, just in case.

Then they all decided that May would lose her Brexit vote by a three-figure margin. But we all know that probably nothing will happen, everyone will sort of forget about it and we won’t really leave the EU and no one will leave the country. They never do. Look at Gary Numan. Hardly anyone in Britain ever does anything.

Then there was a bit about Baroness Trumpington. I think we all agree on that. And it’s going unchallenged anyway.

(Here’s Digby’s latest. He’s a conundrum.)

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