President Trump has offended pretty much the entirety of Britain’s political and media establishment up to and including the Prime Minister, the Mayor of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury. As a result, the Special Relationship is once more in jeopardy, and Trump has decided to cancel a planned working visit to the United Kingdom.
In a moment I shall explain why the president is right and his critics are wrong. But first a brief recap of what the fuss is all about.
Trump’s critics objected violently – or so they have publicly claimed – to three of his Twitter retweets.
These retweets showed videos, purportedly of members of the Religion of Peace (TM) behaving less than peacefully.
One depicted a bearded Muslim destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary.
One showed an Islamist mob pushing a teenage boy off a roof and then beating him to death.
One showed a white Dutch boy on crutches being gratuitously beaten up by a man described in the video caption as a “Muslim migrant”.
Prime Minister Theresa May; Mayor of London Sadiq Khan; and many other politicians professed themselves to be appalled by this. As was BBC news, which made this horror its lead story.
But it wasn’t the sadistic brutality on any of the videos that bothered them. It was the fact that the person whose tweets the President had retweeted, Jayda Fransen, is the deputy of a nationalistic, anti-immigration political party highly critical of Islam called Britain First
Whenever I’m trying to work out what I really think about another terrorist incident involving the Religion of Peace, the first place I always turn to is the BBC.
Whatever the BBC says I know for certain that the right view to take is the exact opposite.
And so it was last night on BBC News. A policeman had been stabbed to death; three passers-by had been deliberately mown down by a car on London’s Westminster Bridge, and another 29 injured, some very seriously. Clearly, this was yet another Islamic-State-inspired terrorist attack whose main aim was to inflict as much carnage as possible to as many innocent victims as possible until the perpetrator got shot.
Or so you might have thought, till you watched the BBC, which knew exactly what the real story was. Apparently, the tragedy of those dead and injured people, including at least one mother and several schoolchildren, was a relatively minor detail…
No, what the story was really about was that it was an assault on the heart of parliamentary democracy, a narrowly averted disaster which could have seen an actual MP get hurt and which, almost worst of all, meant that MPs and parliamentary staff and reporters and other inhabitants of the Westminster Bubble including the BBC’s own Laura Kuenssberg were forcibly cooped up inside the Parliament buildings for a few hours.
We knew this because one of the lead sections of the BBC’s coverage comprised amateurish footage that had been shot of Kuenssberg looking confused and trapped, wondering what was going outside. She was shown asking some other people trapped with her what was going on. They didn’t know, either.
But we did. That’s because by the time the news bulletin was broadcast at 10pm – seven hours after the incident – the story had moved on. We knew about the dead policeman. About the woman who’d jumped off the bridge into the river. About the poor chap who’d jumped over the parapet and fell 18 feet onto concrete. About the bearded assailant who’d died of his injuries not long after being shot by plain clothes police.
All of this was far more compelling and important and dramatic than anything Laura Kuenssberg might have experienced, hours earlier, during her unfortunate moment of temporary inconvenience under lockdown.
You could argue that this was simply a case of poor editorial judgement. Kuenssberg is, for better or worse, one of the BBC’s star reporters. Perhaps some cowed editor felt that her geographical proximity to the story – even though she hadn’t witnessed it or been able to do any useful reporting on it – justified giving her such prominence.
Will Straw, director of the Remain campaign, has been caught red-handed advising his team how to exploit Cox’s death by playing up the message that Leave represent “division and resentment” while only Remain represents “decent, tolerant Britain.”
This is what the left means by “dog-whistle” politics.
Only this time, it’s the left which is blowing that whistle.
Here, as Guido reports, is what Will Straw said in a highly embarrassing leaked audio file.
“We need to recognise that people have been pulled up short by Jo Cox’s death and it is now time to make a very positive case for why we want to be in the European Union… to call out the other side for what they have done to stir division and resentment in the UK.
That is something we must all do… This is what we think is the closing argument of the campaign, reflecting all the arguments that we have been setting out for many months but also the new context that we’re in. What we want to say is people should vote Remain on Thursday for more jobs, lower prices, workers’ rights, stronger public services and a decent, tolerant United Kingdom.”
The language is cautious, mealy-mouthed but the message is clear. To paraphrase: ‘Never mind the issues – just focus on Jo Cox. They didn’t buy Project Fear; they didn’t buy Project Lies; but they might just be sold on Project Grief.’
And Straw may have a point for, since the murder of Jo Cox, there has been a dramatic shift in Remain’s fortunes. Where before they were trailing in the polls, now they have pulled ahead.
Yes, there’s a story doing the rounds that this is because the public are becoming increasingly concerned about economic issues and that these favour Remain. But I suspect that this is just Remain spin to cover their own embarrassment at the unseemly way they’ve been using Jo Cox’s death to their advantage.
Ask yourself what would have happened had it been Nigel Farage not Jo Cox slain on a pavement, whether they would have called for kinder Politics?
I suspect in some quarters they would declare he brought it on himself. How they laughed when his family were attacked whilst trying to enjoy a family lunch in a pub.
As we move into the final few days of the campaign, the ugly ambition of Remain will be to keep the Jo Cox story alive – at least in print – until June 23.
There is no end to the stunts set up to ensure this story has legs and keeps running – when most of us just want the family left in peace to grieve and find some sleep.
Regrettably for the state of British politics, she’s probably right.
First came the pilgrimage by the two main party leaders David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn – both pro-Remain – to lay wreaths in Cox’s constituency in Birstall, West Yorkshire and preach the virtues of “tolerance” and “democracy”. (More dogwhistling: if you don’t believe in these virtues than you must be Vote Leave).
Then yesterday, Parliament was recalled from its summer recess for a special sitting. Ostensibly to celebrate the life and the “kinder, gentler politics” apparently embodied by Jo Cox; but also, unfortunately, to allow campaigners like MP Stephen Kinnock – son of two of the EU’s more voracious apparatchiks Neil and Glenys – yet more dogwhistling opportunities by talking about “hope not fear, respect not hate, unity not division”. (Unity: you mean, like, in a “not leaving the EU” kind of way, Stephen?)
After that will come the funeral which – let us pray – will remain a private affair.
If you think this is normal procedure for when a parliamentarian is killed while in office, you’d be mistaken.
It didn’t happen after Conservative MP Ian Gow was assassinated with an IRA bomb in 1990.
Nor did it happen in 1979 when Airey Neave – a wartime hero (one of the few men to escape from Colditz) and also a personal friend of the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – was murdered in similar fashion by another Irish Republican terror group the INLA.
God, I hate Katie Hopkins. But not for the reasons everyone else does. I hate her in the sense that I can’t help worshipping her and the ground she treads on because she does what I’d like to do but does it so much better: she annoys all the people who most deserve to be annoyed, she remains articulate and collected in the face of all the brickbats that are thrown at her, and above all, she seems to make a damn good living out of it.
The last bit isn’t as obvious as you’d think. I was talking to an agent the other day about the best way to make the most of a career as an outspoken media commenter and his argument was that you shouldn’t stray too far from the middle ground for that way you alienate half your potential audience.
This is especially true if you’re on the right. Outrageous pinkos – look at Owen Jones, Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Polly Toynbee, et al – tend to get a much freer pass from our left-leaning media culture. But their equivalents at the conservative end of the spectrum are much harder to find. In fact I’d say that there’s only one and that’s Hopkins.
Over the weekend, you may have noticed, Katie Hopkins was trending on Twitter yet again – this time because of a piece she’d written in The Sun in which she’d upset the Offenderati by using the word “cockroaches” in the context of the boatloads of hapless, parched, pitiable migrants now fleeing Libya. At this point you’re obliged tactically to distance yourself from Hopkins by noting how distasteful you too find her appalling choice of words. But I’m not going to, for several reasons, the first being that that it was so devastatingly effective.
One reason why so many torpedoed mariners were eaten by sharks in the Second World War is that sharks are drawn to explosions. This is what Hopkins achieved with her “cockroaches.” It was her very own USS Indianapolis: in came a veritable Guardianista Who’s Who of finny horrors: Diane Abbott; Owen Jones (natch); Piers Morgan; Russell Brand – all turning the waters of Twitter red in a roiling frenzy of noisome, bleeding-heart self-righteousness.
And in the wake of all the celebrity offendotrons – the Wankerati, as I call them – came shoal after shoal of opportunistic bottom feeders: the ones trying to get her sacked from The Sun; the ones demanding that Hopkins be prosecuted (no really: a whopping 2200 of them have already signed the inevitable Change.org petition) for “incitement to genocide”; the ones tweeting photos of her children and declaring how unlucky they were to have such a frightful mother.
Now the textbook lefty response to this kind of monstering is to play the victim card, as so-called “anti-poverty campaigner” and professional lesbian single mother “Ms Jack Monroe” has just done. She could, of course, have just quietly stopped using Twitter. Except, being a Social Justice Warrior, she couldn’t. No, she had to weaponise her exit with a heart-rending blog about how she felt Twitter was no longer felt a “safe space” : “Today I left my house at 4pm. Head down. Eyes flicking at every stranger walking towards me on the street. Sunglasses on the Tube. The man arrested roams free after 15 hours in Policy custody, updating his blog with sneering comments…”
The not-so-subtle implication of this – and we’ve seen similar tactics from Stella Creasy MP and a feminist campaigner called Caroline Criado Perez – is that free speech has gone too far and it’s time we had a clampdown. This is the guerilla version of the conventional war which has been waged on free speech by the left-liberal establishment (from Keir Starmer, CPS and an emasculated police force to Hacked Off and their amen corner at the BBC and the Guardian) via the Leveson Inquiry and the vexatious arrests of all those Sun journalists. It’s cynical, it’s dirty, it’s illiberal and it’s much, much more dangerous and ugly than anything Katie Hopkins has ever written.
But the reason so few people appreciate this is – ooh look! Katie Hopkins wrote a nasty word, so we needn’t talk about it. That, I’m afraid, is the level to which so many vitally important debates have been reduced these days by the liberal-left’s Alinskyite tactics.
In the case of Hopkins’s Sun piece, no left-wing commentator, so far as I’m aware, felt under any obligation to respond with any manner of reasoned counterargument. They might have pointed out that because the West created the Libyan crisis it has a moral obligation to fix its consequences; or they could have gone the whole hog and argued that we have a duty to house all refugees, come what may.
They didn’t though because – a bit like with all those rapists out there who just can’t help raping women because they’re provocatively dressed and therefore have it coming to them – their intellectual processes were short-circuited by Hopkins’s outrageously unforgivable deployment of a single term: “cockroaches.”
A piece in the Independent claimed that this was the kind of dehumanising words the Nazis used, so apparently rendering Hopkins’s entire commentary beyond the pale. Lots of people in the comments section and on social media agreed with this analysis. I hope this tendency frightens you as much as it frightens me.
Why? Because it’s a dirty rhetorical cheat, not an argument. No, worse than that it’s a vicious lie. By focusing on just one intemperate word (designed, as so much of the best polemical writing does, to provoke a response) and freighting it with far more significance than any remotely objective interpretation could possibly bear, it calculatingly misrepresents the opinions of a heroically brave, often admirably sensible woman who dares, as so few do, to voice what the silent majority are really thinking.
Sholto says:24th April 2015 at 8:09 amThe Left get to write the narrative because basically they have taken over the public sector. Not, as the Right grumble, because of a cunning Gramscian plot to take over the institutions, but because they have had no choice.
When I was at Uni (Dept of Maths & Computer Science) there were no lefties in sight, ditto Engineering, Accountancy, Physics, anything requiring accuracy and logic. No, they were bunched up in the softer sciences, in fact the softer the science the lefter its participants.
Obviously one does not emerge from the academic meringue of a Sociology or Gender Studies course to be confronted with a vista of open doors into the private sector. Whereas here in Australia, and I imagine elsewhere, the public sector often insists on a degree but they normally don’t care what degree. Hence you are best advised to never stand between a leftie and the taxpayer’s teat.
So we have reverse Darwinism at work – those with the most intellectually and academically questionable degrees end up in the environment where they have most influence over the rest of us.
Those of us unfortunate enough to live in the real world always face an uphill fight to be heard over the overwhelming superiority of media volume and bureaucratic diktat at the disposal of the other side.
The West is stuffed.