After James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole showed the world that he didn’t know one end of WTO rules from the other, and Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin let the world know that he was against EU laws, but didn’t know which ones, a new wheeze was needed by those pretending that Britain will be fine outside the European Union.
And that new wheeze is to kick the Irish, a ploy that has been used by such diverse media outlets as Spiked, so named because it should have been long ago, and to its shame the BBC, in the person of well-beyond-his-shelf-life Today Programme host John Humphrys. The insensitivity and lack of self-awareness, is, though, consistent.
The first salvo came from Michael Fitzpatrick at Spiked, whose scribblings were Tweeted out with the message “Fintan O’Toole has become the most sneering member of the Remainer aristocracy. His scorn for the British masses exposes the nasty elitism that underpins the pro-EU brigade, says Michael Fitzpatrick”. Ri-i-i-ight.
Considering that Fintan O’Toole is Irish, that he is writing from an Irish perspective, and that support for the EU in The Republic last May was at 92% (96% in Dublin and 97% among 18 to 24 year olds), he has good reason to speak from a Remain angle. And, as he is Irish - did I mention that? - that is his, and his country’s business, and not ours.
O’Toole has taken a mildly sceptical stance on this attack, noting “It is especially delightful for a Paddy to be decried by as an aristocratic elitist by an outfit funded by the US multi-billionaire oligarch Koch brothers. Might this act not be wearing a bit thin?” And Declan Gaffney reminded the Spiked team whence they came. “Looking right down my big Irish nose at the sadsacks formerly known as the RCP. 'Wanna hear about the fight for Irish freedom mate?' That was your catchphrase back in the day”.
So far, so predictable from Clickbait Corner. But the real jaw-dropper came this morning when Humphrys asked Helen McEntee TD, Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, “Why doesn't Dublin, and the Republic of Ireland, leave the European Union and throw your lot in with this country?” One hopes he was standing well back when he asked that.
It is as if almost 200 years of Irish history had been wiped from the collective consciousness of the Beeb’s finest. One could have understood that kind of question being asked by one of the less clued-up hosts at Murdoch-owned TalkRADIO, and in time the likes of Julia Hartley Dooda may be doing just that. But no instance of such ignorance can be excused, although it is a superb example of Brit Superior Attitude Disorder.
It was bad enough for Priyamvada Gopal of Cambridge University to muse “It's a truly astounding and massively historically ignorant remark to make. I have to take my hat off to Humphrys, such cool willingness to be a complete illiterate arse on national radio … Please, Dog, whatever else my students turn out to be, when they join the BBC & other media orgs as part of the massive Oxbridge quota, make it so they will not say things like this. They will not say things like this, actually. They're being given their history”.
Trying do dump on the Irish is supremely ignorant. But it seems that both Spiked and the BBC are prepared to rise to the task. Small wonder the EU debate is so badly informed.
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