One fixture in the world of politics reporting - as is his inability to perform such basic journalistic tasks as taking notes - is the sniffy and sneering presence of the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not), whose variation on the “Littlejohn defence”, the excusing of saying things that are not true, is not just to claim that it’s “only an opinion column”, but that he is “cartooning”, so this allows him certain excesses in his reportage.
Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Arslikhan
And one thing Quent has difficulty getting his brain round is an accent. He himself has an accent which sounds strange to many, and certainly those of us who hail from God’s Own County, but to him it is everyone else who is out of step with their elocution.
Recently, his target was SNP MP Alan Brown: “the House’s acoustics are not perfect for catching Mr Brown’s strong East Ayrshire accent … Suella Fernandes (Con, Fareham) shook her bonce in bafflement. Anna Soubry (Con, Broxtowe) reined back her nostrils, defeated by Mr Brown’s impenetrable brogue”.
And Quent dislikes feminism of any sort, so when he got the opportunity to kick both accents and feminism at the same time, he was away and waddling. His target this time was not just an SNP MP, but Mhairi Black, whom he refers to as “Miss”, because, well, this is the Daily Mail, dammit. “She was attired in her usual smart, boyish grey suit, hair scraped back in the two-directional style she has made her own” he asserted.
That’s code for “Gay”. And there was more. “She threw her shoulders into her gesticulations as she bawled ‘lessen ’us’ (listen to us!). Her strong accent is another oratorical strength … This is not a woman who has been tamed by the metropolis. That accent gives voice to her political authenticity”. She sounds different. Snot fair!
Mhairi Black MP
But it was yesterday’s debate on misogyny that really got Quent going. “Miss Black made a speech which contained numerous instances of the C-word. This may well be a parliamentary first. They came while she described some of the nasty things that have been said about her by the public … Happily, Miss Black has such a formidably strong accent that the dreadful words she uttered were almost completely incomprehensible to your sketchwriter’s softy-southerner ear”. Snooty southerner, more like.
In days gone by, Quent would have been in the vanguard of those protesting at the BBC allowing Wilfred Pickles to read the news. You can tell he never gets himself out of bed before 0900 hours - if he did, there would be whole articles devoted to sneering at the likes of Steph McGovern, who would no doubt also be called “Miss”.
Quentin Letts is yet another of the press’ embarrassingly large collection of dinosaur pundits, kept on because their editors really believe that their output is what the readers look forward to of a morning. The reality is that his paper is rapidly becoming a caricature of its former self, its editor is obsessed with bending others to his will by fair means or foul, and all the while, circulation is in freefall. That’s because those readers are leaving.
Of course, Quent could jump ship and get himself a real job. But that would mean getting up earlier, taking notes, and otherwise working for a living. Perish the thought, eh?