Some of those on the fringe of our free and fearless press have clearly been at a loose end of late, and there is no looser end on that fringe than the loathsome Toby Young, who has taken grave exception to a neither-here-nor-there comment from Labour leadership hopeful Lisa Nandy. In so doing, Tobes has revealed that this is a politician who frightens him - a woman who does not merely know her place.
Ms Nandy had floated the idea that honours, such as the OBE, should be renamed the Order of British Excellence instead of the anachronistic Order of the British Empire, especially as there has not been a British Empire for decades, and the unfortunate connotations of the term. Her idea is not new: the use of the term “excellence” was first mooted by the Public Accounts Committee back in 2004.
Here’s what she actually said: “It was [poet] Benjamin Zephaniah who balked at the prospect of accepting an OBE - the Order of the British Empire. Why not a choice to provide the Order of British Excellence? Why does the honours system, which should recognise the contribution of our people, shut people out, rather than bring people in?”
"Dark Horse". Er, hello Tobes, you have a problem
The right-wing press immediately decided that Ms Nandy had “demanded” the change, even though she hadn’t, and for Tobes that was enough to go after her. “They never learn, do they? Lisa Nandy, the dark horse candidate in the Labour leadership race, has demanded the word ‘empire’ be expunged from OBE”. Mixed race candidate is a “dark horse”? Not at all racist from the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine.
White male an authority on racism no shock horror
Do go on. “Lisa Nandy wants to remove the word ‘Empire’ from the OBEs. Doesn’t she realise that one of the reasons Labour did so badly at the last election is because working-class voters believe the party under Jeremy Corbyn has become anti-British?” False equivalence, much? What evidence is there that anyone perceived Labour an “anti-British”? Does “pro-British” mean green lighting casual racism?
And racism does seem to be a problem for Tobes, so much so that he has taken time out to commend an “Excellent piece in [Quillette] about the way a ‘racism epidemic’ at Britain’s universities has been invented out of whole cloth and then used to advance a left-wing agenda and suppress free speech. Essential reading”. Racism? What racism? Like he’s not being racist about Ms Nandy by calling her a “dark horse”. Because he’s frit of her.
Still, on he ploughs, sniping “You do realise [Lisa Nandy] that if you replace the word ‘Empire’ with ‘Excellence’ the honour will become the Most Excellent Order of British Excellence?” That Brexiteer echo chamber of his will be wanking itself senseless.
Until, of course, his target bites back and reminds him of the real world out there. “Don’t worry Toby. I can’t imagine any possible scenario in which you will have to worry about which honour to accept”. It’s true that there are no honours yet awarded for “sitting at the back of a eugenics conference because I’m not really there”, “leering at women for kicks”, or “slipping casual racism into my latest Spectator article”.
But good of Toby Young to admit he’s scared of assertive women. Why might that be?
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