An Open Letter to LBC’s James O’Brien

BY JAMIE FOSTER

Dear James,

Following the new fashion for writing letters to people unlikely to ever read, understand or be persuaded by them, I address this missive to you. For the benefit of those who may wish to read it and don’t know who you are, I will introduce you.

You are the son of a hugely respected Telegraph journalist who made it to the top of his profession the hard way. His success enabled him to send you to Ampleforth, and his contacts enabled you to write a gossip column for the Daily Express. You are treated as a journalist to the extent that you have a talk show based on current affairs and a regular guest slot on Newsnight. In reality however you are a polemicist.

The premise behind your show, and the station it is aired on, is that you are somehow leading a conversation. To many of us who tune in it sounds more like you are trying to avoid one. You appear to divide your time between preaching to the choir; disparaging anyone who doesn’t agree with you; and patronising those who do. Hillary Clinton, whom you greatly admired, has her ‘basket of deplorables’; you have a ‘box of trolls’.  Your central theme is the proselytisation of your schoolboy politics, which hover at the edges of what is generously called the ‘moderate left’. Your shtick is to claim that all of the problems in life are knowingly created by a fabulously wealthy elite who have conspired to trick people into blaming all of life’s problems on migrants, whilst stealing their money from them.

You have blocked me on Twitter and poured bile on me on your programme for having the temerity to suggest that Bill and Hillary Clinton were not the morally unimpeachable champions of women that your narrative required us to accept they were. Still, that’s water under the bridge (where I and the rest of your nasty ignorant trolls spend our days waiting for the clip clop of your tiny hooves). I am not writing to complain but to contribute.

You see you have inadvertently stumbled across a question that is actually worth answering. In your usual introspection-free manner you have implied that the only possible answer is yours, but I write to suggest an alternative. I do so because it may be one of the most important questions of our time and it has spawned a conversation that is finally worth having.

Your question is why is the Right now saying they want things that the Left have always wanted? Why does Trump promise a better future for workers? Why does he attack the huge corporations who control the wealth of a nation? Why does he want the rich to pay taxes rather than relocate offshore to avoid them?   Or recognise that vast swathes of people have been left behind in the march to global prosperity?

To your ears this all sounds like Socialism. Your answer is immediately clear the second the aspiration has been voiced. If that is what you want, embrace Socialism. Need better lives for workers? Unions will provide. Want more people to share in the wealth? The State will remove prosperity from the greedy and redistribute it to the needy. Your segue from aspiration to solution is so seamless you are able to convince vast swathes of your listeners that the two things are one. That wanting fairness is Socialism, rather than that Socialism is a proposed method of achieving it.

This brilliant sleight of hand has two profound effects. It links the method of Socialism in the minds of the faithful with the good that they seek; and it reinforces the belief that unless you want Socialism you can’t want fairness, or justice, or prosperity for all.  You have built a moral bastion from which you can cast righteous fireballs down on the heads of the unworthy. Unfortunately you have built it on sand.

The truth is when you separate out recognising the problem from proposed solutions, the left/right distinctions largely fall away. Clearly there are those on the extreme ends of the spectrum who don’t have anyone’s best interests at heart. They tend to meet in high streets and fight with each other in the pretence that they are separated by anything more than the colour of their banners. For the rest of us, wanting people to be happy and well-fed is not a surprising desire.

What is surprising is your belief that, despite its history of failure, Socialism is likely to achieve this end. What you fail to take into account is that a massive State absorbs the wealth it confiscates, rather than redistributing it to all. Chavez, Mugabe and Blair were all made massively better off as a result of their respective regimes. The poor they had promised succour to not so much.

The reality is that prosperity has always been reliant on some having more than others. Splitting a large farm into hundreds of small farms may appeal to the dreams of the Left but it doesn’t feed the bellies of the hungry.

I am in no doubt that there is a tiny percentage of the world’s population who are just too rich and too powerful. I am equally sure that the way to resolve that problem is not to create a giant bureaucracy that itself becomes too rich and too powerful.

If you have any interest at all in solutions to the problems that you use to promote yourself to the listening public with, I have a suggestion for you. Instead of labelling and demonising anyone who is concerned at the thought of Britain being the finishing line in an economic running race for the world’s poor, listen to those people’s concerns.

Resist the urge to mock or cajole the minute they say something you don’t like. Don’t lecture, preach or harangue. Talk to them about their lives with respect and empathy. You might just inspire them to copy you. You might just start a real conversation. You might even end up leading it.

Imagine how satisfying that would be.

Yours Truly

Jamie Foster

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57 thoughts on “An Open Letter to LBC’s James O’Brien

  1. I wrote a 3 page letter to James O’Brien calling him out on accepting the unchallenged Palestinian narrative in 2014 & how this promotes antisemitism in the UK which is spiking, to which I received no reply. I then tweeted JOB and he blocked me. I was not rude, I was respectful, but he still silenced me. I concur with everything that you say in your letter which is far more articulate than I ever could say. There is only one person that offers a measured view about Israel and the Jews on LBC and that is Maajid Nawaz. He is a Muslim but knocks spots off JOB’s innate twisted views about Israel which only furthers his (& his listeners’) propaganda and does not lead to discussion, coexistence or peace. Thank you for your letter which I have retweeted :))

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I also like the way he makes out he lives in a working class area . He says on air that he lives in Hounslow. Well he does come under Hounslow borough but lives in the Very affluent Chiswick Area ! . Hypocrite !…

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  3. What is your problem? If you disagree don’t listen, why do you need him to be silenced? Aare you frightened that your arguments are so undermined by his? Are they not robust enough to stand opposition? What is your problem?

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  4. This is a remarkably well-written and reasoned analysis of the ‘no-platform’ phenomena we now see among many so called ‘journalists’ i.e. if you do not fit into my self-righteous world view, you will be given no air time.

    The regrettable thing is, I doubt Mr O’Brien has the capacity to take notice of your letter. But be assured, others have, and they will be able to argue the point more concisely for doing so.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. He is by far the worst presenter on LBC. He loves Jeremy Corbyn and would probably go and live with him if he could. If you watch him on the LBC live player all he does is sit there stroking his beard. You will only get to talk to him if you love labour. He is an odious man. Talk Radio from 10-1 is much better.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Whenever he gets on his moral high horse just remember that he takes money from the BBC. That money is obtained via threats of search warrants, court and fine. The poorest families in the land will be handing money over to the BBC for the likes of him to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I was with you until almost the end Jamie – shame you had to bring “bloody foreigners” into, before that you made some very good points.

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  8. This fool James O’Brien is an obnoxious oik just used by LBC for ratings. Eloquent in a strange way. But far from bright. Common Entrance exemption sort of average type.
    I hear there’s quite a bit in those accounts – HYPOCRISY.
    And quite a bit in his past that needs dragging through the mainstream press.
    Good job Jamie. Seems you have set an avalanche off.
    Bye bye James O’Brien.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Do you mean we’ve only actually had legally enforceable rights for a few years? That was “foisted on us” by the EU? Because that what I was talking about.
    May desperately wants to strip those protective laws away, and she’s pretending that a vote for Brexit was a vote for that.
    It wasn’t.

    As for free movement, if you want to destroy the entire building because you want to smash up one of the cornerstones, well, I think that’s really stupid, but each to their own. It’ll leave us woefully exposed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. James, is everyone’s best mate so long as they are part of his dingly dangly band of sychophants or someone he can patronise and control, empathise with.

    James lives in some kind of fake parallel universe in Chiswick, where one day The Tiger Who Came to Tea will visit his house, eat all his food, drink all his drink in such a nice way and then when Daddy James comes home, he’ll be so matter of fact about it, they’ll go to the cafe for something to eat, so nice.

    James led a campaign of hate against Trump, without any kind of real balance against Clinton.

    James own admissions from time to time, how he gets it so wrong about certain issues goes to show how blinkered he is to reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mr foster, I really enjoyed reading this, and agreed with it almost in its entirety. The only very small point of disagreement was, although you describe his followers/believers as swathes, I believe that there are a lot more people than first realised, that can smell his excrement a mile away. I belive that the non believers in his rhetoric, are greater than even his small mind can envisage. Brexit being a fine example of the great British public, no longer believing they can trust arrogant nepotistic preachers, and indeed see through the nonsense that is spouted. They now realise that these silver spoon dollies, are not to be taken at their word. When this is noted, the great British public are now making some fantastic decisions, and are proving to be very smart indeed. J o b, rip.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Years ago he lived in Ladbroke Grove or somewhere similar (before it was gentrified) and raved on about how he loved living in a multi cultural area amongst the salt of the earth working class people. I thought to myself I wonder if he’ll stay when he has children.

    Low and behold he quickly scurried off to Chiswick as soon as he had kids!

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  13. It isn’t what I want, the laws in question have been there only for about forty years, I want to stop subsidising the European beaurocracy in its power game. Don’t tell me who I am, not everyone has the same opinion as you and we are still all entitled to think for ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So is this the point of this letter then? He’s Remain, and you’re not?

    Leaving the EU is utterly stupid. The “one thing we so desperately want” – an end to free movement – is literally the last thing we will get.

    That we seem ready to, on a split vote, overturn hundreds of years of basic laws and strup ourselves of our human rights, which, I should note, are things that the unelected-by-the-public PM has whinged about and wanted rid of for years, is very worrying.

    The sudden rise of Trump, and what he’s going to do in the USA will, I hope, cure the UK of this “we must have popular rule” thing.

    Bread & circuses only works for so long.

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  15. Why are there some really nasty people on the Left? Because the Far Right has too much competition for “king crazy nasty”.

    People who will be moving into the White House within 2 months that have called for internment & expulsions, rights to be stripped away, and more, so where would you go to to beat Alex Jones or James Bannon?

    On the Left, you can just preach radical wealth redistribution (“Eat the rich”) and bingo. No need for mass murder.

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  16. Anyone see his woeful performance on University Challenge – rabbit caught in the headlights!
    He is not what he seems but hides behind the microphone

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  17. I really would like somebody who can be arsed to interrogate his accounts. The other week he made a flippant comment about putting something through on expenses.
    As someone who regularly takes the micky with expenses, i smiled and realised he’s as bent as one of them bananas Brussels banned.
    Thing is, i can’t be arsed to do it.

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  18. You hit the nail squarely on the head here. Having said that, he does follow Nick Ferrari on LBC, so perhaps one could argue that he is counterbalance. Nevertheless, I too have become adept at spinning the dial at 10:00 to talkRADIO and Julia Hartley-Brewer, who presents a moderate show who will have sensible guests to provide insight. I have tweeted on occasions when James OB becomes unbearable with his strawman arguments and bullying & belittling attitude to callers who have a different point of view, but who do not necessarily have detailed information to hand when he pulls out an obscure question on some minor area of their viewpoint. Unfortunately, the Let’s recent characteristic of branding anyone who has an opposing viewpoint as knuckle-dragging, racist, misogynist, xenophobes, whilst successful in removing their voice, is wearing a little thin.

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  19. Plenty of “poverty” around in socialist and capitalist countries; would love to know what “administering” socialism is; foodbank volunteers “benefit”, if so, how?

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  20. Easy to be ‘fair’ when someone else is picking up the tab.

    When socialists can come up with an effective way to make money (rather than take it), then I’ll listen to your grandiose spending plans and take a view – but not before…

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  21. O’Brien recently said that “You can’t trust anything you hear on Newsnight.”. The BBC have sacked people for less. For one of the presenters to speak of a flagship news programme in such a way is absolutely disgraceful. Complain to the BBC about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I cannot listen to the man.His arrogance is beyond rudeness.He hates Farage because he took him to task. Since then JOB calls Farage at every opportunity.JOB is a jumped up little sweaty man.I wish LBC would get rid of him,then I can tune in at 10 am.

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  23. Quite apposite and appropriate Jamie. I’m clearly in an ‘appy frame of mind today.

    The one thing you can say for James O’Brien is that he appears (there’s that app again) to the untutored eye as quite balanced. The answer is, of course, that he has a chip on both shoulders.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. The real problem is that the poor people who listen to his programme do so in the belief that he is somehow “qualified”, that his thoughts are worthwhile. Educated and wordy, he has a platform for his views. It gives them a sense of power, a sense of worth that he does not deserve.

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  25. Brave. You’ll get shot down for some made-up excuse. But people know you guys and know you’re not racist, not anti semitic, not bigots. That’s why this site is doing so well. Keep it going! Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. O’Brien lacks real life experience. Describes anything that is not the kind of thing discussed by those “who don’t get it” as “nonsense”. Good formula but this letter completely disassembles it. Beautifully done.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I can’t stand his middle class smugness or how condescending he is . He once did a program about how anyone who has moved abroad from Britain is a failure. I couldn’t disagree more . He has come to many things late in life e.g. Being a parent ,learning to drive ,having a dog and yet he immediately becomes an expert in these things !! He bangs on and on about his late father,about how wonderful he was but absolutely fails to see that it was his father who sent him away to private boarding school where the pupils are taught and interfered with (sexually) by Roman Catholic nuns and priests. He says (James obrien) that the peodaphile abuse was common knowledge at the time ,and indeed years later prosecutions have successfully been made ,and people sent to jail .what you have to question is that why o why did his loving father insist that he stay there ??? Simple answer ,because he couldn’t bare him!!! James obriens “parents”. Adopted him ,I think with the best intentions but when he turned into the person he is now they realised they couldn’t stand him and they couldn’t send him back ,so they sent him away. And who could BLAME them . Let’s see if the big mouth hypocrite sends his kids to a boarding school full of peodephiles??
    And I’ve stopped listening to mystery hour because in reality it’s just fifty minutes of listening to the most arrogant of radio presenters trying to answer all of the questions him self !! On one programme he even gave himself seven separate rounds of applause for getting the answer right !!
    Last but not least he invents and reinvents the most annoying and unessaary speech impediments!!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. It’s a pity as he can be fun during the non-political segments but otherwise turns bullyboy at the drop of a hat, which makes me switch to Talk Radio’s Julia Hartley-Brewer. He really believes everyone who votes UKIP or Leave simply has a problem with black people and tries to ‘prove’ this by rubbishing any other reason they might have, such as sovereignty. He ridicules any casual Leaver calling in by demanding details of laws controlled by EU the UK should claw back and they don’t usually have them to hand (except for the bananas one!) – he seems to think this means there are no laws then or they have just been ‘conned by liars’. Pity he never grilled Gove, the ex-Justice Sec, who as we know, was so aghast at all the Brussels directives coming over he campaigned for Leave. That would have been worth a tune in.

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  29. He’s losing the mornings ratings now to Julia Hartley Brewer on talk radio, nobody is in the mood to listen to his lefty rants and put downs, spilt little rich boy..

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Whilst the thrust of the piece is spot on, it does miss something- why has the modern left become the home of some fundamentally nasty people. They betray themselves regularly in their condescension, which over time becomes hardwired to deliver ‘the sneering class’- people with no skin in the game but very amply rewarded for mediocre performances funded by society as a whole. OBrien takes this nastiness ( for he is fundamentally nasty, his mask slips ) and elevates it to near hate preaching, because he’s divisive and corrosive on a scale very few are afforded. Still, LBC is a privately run business, and their aim is to make money…

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  31. Steady Jamie, you’re beginning to align with our Nicola Sturgeon 😉 Welcome to our world. A Fairer society forms the foundation of the Policy building blocks across all Holyrood Parties, yes even the tories up here.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. O’Brien on LBC is targeted at all those cab drivers and unemployed who aren’t at a job where radios are switched off. He plays down to his audience. Probably told to by his producer. I remember when he was on the Wright Stuff on TV. Less impressive. Definitely a radio shock jock type. Not a TV presenter.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Shorter open letter2:

    Dear James O’Brien,

    Where does your Jamaican accent come from?

    Best

    Someone who would have loved the chances you got in life…

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Jamie you should ask him about his tax arrangements and how they fit in with his socialist wet dreams. Or get Frank Lampard to do so! O’Brien is as hypocritical as the rest of the Champagne socialists. Same as Toynbee.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. James O’Brien was born with the gift of eloquence. Good debater. Has an answer for everything. Like George Galloway in many ways. Not a thinker. Perma-wrong. Not someone who has experience of working in the city or finance. People like him who went to the LSE and learnt theory, who had a privileged upbringing amongst boys and girls brighter than him, they will always rebel and use the vehicles of socialism or some other radical method of chipping away at those they knew were better than them. Chip won’t go away. Ever. Like James Schneider getting teased at Winchester about his criminal father. LBC just interested in ratings. Newsnight desperate since Paxman left. Well done to James for finding a niche for his eloquence.

    Liked by 4 people

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