While most pundits were still taking in the news that Commons Speaker John Bercow would be stepping down by the end of next month, and that one of his last acts was to allow a motion compelling alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his chief polecat Dominic Cummings to pony up a significant amount of correspondence on pain of breaking the law, Bozo’s predecessor was about to make her own news.
Theresa May has drawn up her resignation honours list, which, apart from a nod to her love of cricket, has rewarded a significant amount of failure, not least giving honours to Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, the latter being the brains behind her 2017 General Election foul-up, which was intended to consign Jeremy Corbyn and Labour to the dustbin of history, but ended up with her losing her majority.
The most glaring of her honours, though, has been the award of a knighthood to Robbie Gibb, who was Ms May’s director of communications for just two years, and has since been rewarded by the Rothermere Press with occasional columns in the Daily Mail. How does two years’ service qualify him for a knighthood?
Ah well. Gibb’s service to the Tory Party goes back a long way. As an Evening Standard profile tells, “His first foray in politics was working for the then shadow chancellor Francis Maude. A Tory who met him after he’d joined Michael Portillo’s leadership campaign in 2001 remembers a rare moderniser in Portillo’s circle”. Then he went to the BBC.
The Standard again: “Euroscepticism is a thread through his career. When he returned to the BBC, he made no attempt to hide the fact that he was Conservative. ‘He felt strongly at times that the balance was too far to the Left and Blairism,’ says a former colleague. A cabinet minister adds: ‘He is unusual for someone schooled in the BBC in that he is avowedly partisan.’” Avowedly partisan. At the BBC.
Gibb was a “hard Brexiteer long before it became fashionable”. He was the author of the infamous speech by Ms May that blamed MPs - including many in her own party - for her failure to deliver Brexit. He wrote the speech that finally pointed Theresa May firmly in the direction of the exit door. And for that, he got a knighthood?
Well, maybe not just that. The glaring litany of less than fortunate events at the BBC during and since his tenure show possibly the real reason he was given a K. Remember “Resignation! Making the news on the Daily Politics”? That the only MEPs appearing on the Beeb were from UKIP, and usually Nigel “Thirsty” Farage?
Remember the Corporation’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg effectively taking dictation from Matthew Elliott, the head man at Vote Leave, which had broken the law? The staged confrontation between the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr and mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott on The Andy Marr Show™? That Ms Cadwalladr has not been asked back, despite garnering a slew of awards for her work, especially on Cambridge Analytica?
For two years as Theresa May’s spinner, Robbie Gibb did not deserve a knighthood. This looks worryingly like the reward for pointing the BBC to the right.
That may have pleased Theresa May. But the damage may take a decade to put right.
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