Outgoing Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid discovered, at the London première of Martin Scorsese’s film The Irishman, that politicians’ actions can have consequences. And what happened when he met actor and campaigner Hugh Grant clearly had more force than all those victims of press abuse whose lobbying he had so contemptuously dismissed some time earlier. It carried such force that he’s still whining about it.
Javid, who has previously been Culture Secretary (he preceded John Whittingdale), saw Grant at the première, approached him, said “lovely to meet you”, offered his hand, and discovered that the feeling was not mutual. He has now bleated ad infinitum, and indeed ad nauseam, to the Evening Standard magazine about the incident.
As a result, our free and fearless press, which loathes Grant with a passion because of his involvement with campaigning group Hacked Off, became insufferably righteous about the whole business. The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph was especially severe on him, claiming “Hugh Grant is ‘part of the elite’ and ‘looks down on working class people,’ says Sajid Javid, as he revealed the actor once refused to shake his hand”.
The elite, as any fule kno, are the ones like Javid and the rest of his City pals. Anyhow, how about the Daily Brexit, still sometimes called the Express? “OXFORD-educated actor Hugh Grant looked down his nose at British Pakistani Sajid Javid and refused to shake his hand, the Chancellor has revealed”. “Deutsche Bank Managing Director”, they mean.
And the Mail? More of the same: “The Chancellor said he was 'completely shocked' by the rebuff at a film premiere over his failure to support Grant's pressure group, Hacked Off, five years ago”. And to that I call bullshit. Grant was defending not the elite, but ordinary people who have been systematically screwed over by the press.
As he put it today, after noting that the press “faithfully copied out the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s version”, “Freely available to them as they wrote was my side of the story … Which was, in case anyone is interested … ‘If you don’t mind, I won’t shake your hand because you were rude and dismissive to the victims or press abuse when you met them as culture secretary’”. And those victims of press abuse?
“Hugh would like to point out that the victims in question were not celebrities … ‘They were people with personal family tragedies who had been abused by sections of the press’ … He said Grant was referring to a meeting between Mr Javid and “the victims of press abuse… (who) reported back that his attitude in the meeting was ‘borderline contemptuous’”. Like the meeting between victims and his successor Whittingdale.
At the latter meeting, Whittingdale’s SpAds, one of whom was Carrie Symonds, sat together in a corner of the room giggling. That, Sajid Javid, is the level at which Tory response to the press abuse of ordinary people operates. It is highly doubtful that the attitude of Javid and his advisors would have been any different.
Far from being elitist, Hugh Grant has selflessly campaigned for the little people, the ones who the press trample over because they can. Because they expect no comeback.
And politicians take no notice until it affects them personally. I’ll just leave that one there.
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