Some columnists bring their own goods to market. Melanie Phillips may howl at the moon, but the notes are all her own and she can convince others to howl along with her. Other columnists are traded like teenage boys in maximum security prisons as part of the general truck and barter between gangs, in this case gangs of politicians and media executives.
Aaro’s in the second camp. New Labour have put a good many scoops the way of the Times, and the appointment of a columnist generally consulted for an insight on how the government want us to think on any given issue seems like a suitable reward.
However, a loyalist needs a line, and as Aaro rightly says, he’s not getting one to follow. Instead, he’s got to entertain the punters off his own bat. They’re strangers, too. He knew where he stood with Guardian readers. He didn’t like them. But how’s he supposed entertain this bunch of strangers gawping at his byline now? What do Times readers look like? Which way do their knees jerk? What kind of snack opinions do they like to consume?
And so Aaro proceeds around the arena trying to interest the generality by fiddling about with various rhetorical mud pies. Economic growth is good. Europe ain’t all that. How amusing it would be to ban aromatherapy. You’ll never guess what Harold Wilson’s doctor said once. Modernised social democracy is good. It involves sending people to school for a very long time. Will this do?
The thing about Aaro is that malice sharpens his prose, and he’s not been given much opportunity for spite so far. One exception:
the ID card, beloved of the electorate but hated by the professional and criminal classes.
That’s the old Aaro, the man who can smell a stab in the back at a thousand yards. Come on Tony, give your dog a bone.