Spare us the wandering UK aristocracy

Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

What is it with our fascination for UK academics with medieval titles?

Like many Australians I watched in wrapt stunned awe as the astonishing show that is Lord Monckton careened around Australia.

Now I would imagine that it is actually possible to put together a proposition that climate moves in long term cycles and to tap into the default sceptism that accompanies many discussions on complex issues.

The best salesman for this position might be akin to the approach taken by Richard Dawkins when talking about religion – a dry, sceptical, cynical person armed with facts and figures.

Instead Lord Monckton approached it with flamboyant transcontinental legerdemain not seen since Oscar Wildes tour of America or Khemanli’s career as an international loan broker.

Like the star of his own mockumentary, Lord Monckton managed to compare Ross Garnaut to Hitler, mock the PM’s accent and call her “darling” and make himself the story through a series of comical media encounters.

One can hardly imagine that this was what the heavies behind the anti-carbon tax movement imagined they were buying, which begs the question of what role his (cough) peerage had in the minds of those make these decisions.

This is not the only example of hat doffing we have seen lately.

One of the many zealous tongue lashings I received during the Special Schools debate on the ABC’s Ramp Up was that I hadn’t crumpled in the face of the received wisdom of one Dame Mary Warnock, formerly a UK advocate of mainstreaming who has changed her mind on the issue.

Now Dame Warnock is in an entirely different league to a Monckton.

But I still find it bewildering that some people would weigh the shifting views of a UK academic in front of the lived experience of people who have first hand experience of actually being to special schools in Australia.

And if the Dame changed her mind on the issue once, who is to say she won’t do so again or that she wouldn’t see the Australian experience in different terms?

All in all one wonders if there isn’t a loyal corner of the Australian heart that still flutters on the approach of titled gentry.

Craig Wallace

Craig Wallace is a marketing manager and project coordinator with Nican a national community organisation and has been a community leader with various organisations for more than a decade. He is the President of People with Disability Australia, a leading cross disability rights organisation in Australia and is a member of the ACT BLITS business group.