Welcome to Angus Take House – a weekly column in which I will be pitting two of the wildest takes the world's great thinkers have rustled up against each other. This is your one-stop shop for the meatiest verdicts and saltiest angles on the world's happenings. Go and grab a napkin – these juicy hot takes are fresh from the griddle.
What’s the story? Stephen Hawking has died, aged 76.
Reasonable take: RIP.
Sticky Beef Ribs: At last he is free from his wheelchair to have a bloody pint with Bowie!
God, I feel a bit bad slagging this off, but is there anything worse than the twee celebrity death genre of tweet? The idea that all your favourite celebs are having a big party in heaven. Now plenty of people have pointed out that Hawking was an outspoken atheist, and criticised the tweets on this ground, but this is pedantry. The real issue here is the unbearably cloying geeking-out over the thought of Stephen Hawking quaffing Kronenburgs with Carl Sagan, while Einstein pats him on the shoulder, saying “you did good kid”.
These tweets normally involve “partying” – as described by people who consider 3 Brooklyn Lagers a big night out – or moments of appreciation between celebrities who, despite being alive at the same time and not being friends then, are suddenly best mates now they’re dead. See Alan Rickman and Prince.
The other issue, as many have pointed out, is the slightly more damaging angle of many tributes making allusions to Hawking’s death “freeing him” from the restrictions of his wheelchair. This Washington Post piece breaks it down nicely, but everyone from major national newspapers to Twitter users have been referring to Hawking as “confined” or “chained” to his chair. This is horribly reductive, and it’s fairly obvious that actually, if you’re in a wheelchair, you probably don’t feel restricted by it. In fact, quite the opposite.
The implication that Stephen Hawking has been somehow “freed” by his death has some pretty sinister undertones for people who are in wheelchairs but very much alive. That said, I'm glad he can now play snooker with Ken Dodd.
What’s the story? Jeremy Corbyn has called for a calm and measured response to the Salisbury attack, suggesting evidence should be fully gathered before decisive action is taken.
Reasonable take: That's a... good idea?
Beef Dripping: What has become of the once great and blood-thirsty Labour party?
If we do start an actual war with Russia, remember this moment. When we leap-frog from threatening not to send Danny Welbeck to Moscow to nuclear armageddon, remember the moment parliament and half the country rounded on Jeremy Corbyn for saying this: “To rush way ahead of the evidence being gathered by the police, in a fevered parliamentary atmosphere, serves neither justice nor our national security.”
This apparently controversial and highly treasonous stance had led to a number of wild takes. Last night's Newsnight, for example, ran a segment on this story that literally featured a massive graphic of Corbyn, cast in red, against the backdrop of Saint Basil's Cathedral. Richard Littlejohn has reliably produced the most excoriating takedown, writing a some Brexiteer slash fiction in the Daily Mail, imagining how World War II would have played out if Jeremy Corbyn had been prime minister instead of Winston Churchill.
“Mr Corbyn insisted it was essential to maintain robust dialogue with Berlin and told MPs he was ordering the War Department to return any unexploded bombs to Berlin for further investigation... The Americans could well be behind it, he suggested, as an excuse to get involved in another European war.”
If that doesn’t leave you howling with laughter then you must hate Britain!
Obviously you’d expect the hyperbolic “Corbyn is a Commie-Spy” garbage from the Mail, but what’s sad about this whole circus is just how quickly his own party have jumped on him. The running theme among Labour MPs is that Corbyn’s reluctance to take Decisive Action before all the facts are clear is somehow bringing shame on a “once great Labour party”. Presumably the once great Labour Party who led Britain into war with Iraq on the basis of totally watertight evidence.
At this stage I’m not sure whether this weird attack is driven by contempt for Corbyn or just a giddiness that Britain might one day be in Big Boy war and mean something again. That parliament have been brought together by this, united in their desire to condemn Corbyn for suggesting we don’t jump straight into world war three is far scarier than any Richard Littlejohn fan-fic.
Prime cut: Both of this week's takes are works of fantasy, but the anti-Corbyn brigade clearly win. Why? Because Britain ALWAYS wins!