Rupert Murdoch would make a lovely gardener

New Internationalist has a terrific interview with Kate Smurthwaite. I’ll just give you a couple of highlights to make you want to read the whole thing.

If you could banish one person from the earth, who would it be and why?

No-one, that’s too cruel a punishment. Really that’s the death penalty, in a way. I don’t think harsh punishments achieve anything. We should be rehabilitating people. Rupert Murdoch would make a lovely gardener. Jeremy Clarkson could drive a Meals On Wheels van. Katie Hopkins could teach spin classes. [Prime Minister David] Cameron and [Chancellor of the Exchequer George] Osbourne could pick up litter. Although that might lead to a massive rise in people dropping bags of their own faeces as litter.

Rehabilitation; good plan. George Bush could work in a chicken-processing plant. Dick Cheney could pick cotton.

Which is most nerve-wracking: stand-up comedy or appearing on ‘Question Time’?

Neither. I love my job. I’ve been doing stand-up far too long to remember what pre-show nerves feel like and I was buzzing to be on ‘Question Time’. I’ve wanted to do it forever, and even more so when I found out who the other guests would be. I did specially ask to be on with someone from the current cabinet because I don’t want to waste my time with a bigot with no real power like over-exposed [leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel] Farage; I want to be talking to the people who can actually change things. And they turned up [Conservative politician] Ken Clarke for me, which was perfect. Well, I obviously got to him cos now he’s stepped down from the cabinet! Also Lord Oakeshott, who was on with me, has since left the Liberal Democrats. I might be the Buffy of ‘Question Time’!

She loves her job and she’s brilliant at it.

Tell me a bit about your work with Abortion Rights (ARUK

I’m the media spokesperson for AR, or as some of my dear friends like to call me ‘the face of abortion’. There are a lot of women’s rights organizations I’m involved with. The other two big ones would be Eaves Housing – which helps trafficking victims – and Women For Refugee Women – which helps asylum-seeking women, but they’re usually given more sympathetic media coverage. The AR role puts me right in the firing line for cups of coffee and being called a murderer.

Reproductive rights are very basic human rights, if you don’t have control over your own body, your other rights are pretty meaningless. The anti-choice campaigners never face up to the fact of what taking away a woman’s right to choose means. It means forced pregnancy. That’s unbearably cruel. I’m very proud to be part of an organization that refuses to stand for that.

That. They never do call it forced pregnancy. I do though; I call it that often.

What is your biggest fear?

That we’re going backwards. One of the most dangerous ideas ever is this notion that things inevitably get better. The march of progress. They do not. Brave and wonderful individuals have been fighting for your rights for centuries. Not just to get them, but to keep them, too. We should be more grateful and more aware of the need to keep fighting. I went to state schools and then to Oxford University for free; when I’m ill I walk straight in to my local NHS clinic or hospital and I get great treatment. In a generation’s time quality healthcare and education could have become a luxury only the rich can afford.

Uhhhhhh…that’s the US right now. God this country is an embarrassment.


  1. quixote says

    Why have I never heard of this marvelous woman? (And what a great name. Smurthwaite.)

    But cruel. Very cruel. I’m not sure Cameron and Co would really notice banishment from Earth. They don’t actually live here do they? But picking up litter? Or cotton? Fate worse than death, and I bet she knows it! Bwahahaha.

  2. sailor1031 says

    Dick Cheney could pick cotton. Splendid idea. By hand without gloves in 100 degree heat and 100% humidity. Supervised by an overseer with a whip. In Cheney’s case I don’t think rehabilitation would be appropriate.

  3. says

    Quite so. The without gloves part is important, because cotton bolls have sharp edges and they slice up the hands. I’m violating Kate’s objection to punishment by saying that, but…well maybe he could have gloves after a few days.

  4. says

    I think he should get gloves, just like I did when I worked as a construction laborer in Virginia many years ago. And I think he should get to pay for them himself, out of his minimum wage paycheck, just like I had to.

    During the non-cotton picking season he could detassel corn (a lot of people in the midwest would get a chiuckle out of that suggestion).

  5. Ed says

    Bush, Jr. should have to actually do menial labor on his ranch, which would be a prison for him, his former administration and every legislator who voted to invade Iraq.

    People who hate welfare recipients should have to trade places with them.

  6. theobromine says

    People who hate welfare recipients should have to trade places with them.

    Such a concrete implementation of Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance might actually result in some improvements to public policy and corporate responsibility. (Yeah, it’s New Years Day – I’m dreaming in technicolour.)

  7. moarscienceplz says

    I think Cheney should be a sewer maintenance worker. That’s the closest thing I can think of that would be like perpetual waterboarding. But compared to Bush, at least Cheney has the guts to acknowledge his actions and own them. Ol’ W, on the other hand is still playing his life-long game of hiding behind ranks of supporters. What an invertebrate he is! I can’t even imagine what kind of job that human slime-mold could perform.

  8. Ed says

    Used car salesman. But then he’d just be ripping people off on a smaller scale (I’m not saying they’re all crooks, but the ones who are have become archetypal symbols of dishonesty–and he’d be pretty good at it with what many consider his folksy charm and his ability to peddle shit to the naive).

    As far as honest occupations go, maybe an announcer of some kind at an entertainment venue like a circus or game show. He’s used to speaking in front of crowds and his word and syntax mangling would be amusing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *