by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 12
August 2020
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07:00

Silly season comes to the Blue Tick brigade

by Peter Franklin

Silly season isn’t what it used to be. There’s just too much end-of-the-world stuff going on. Even the ‘Phew, what a scorcher!’ headlines of August are a portent of doom these days.

Luckily, blue tick Twitter is always good for a giggle. The humour may be unintentional, but our liberal celebs have outdone themselves this year. For instance, here’s Emma Kennedy opining on the Union:

Really? Not a single reason? Well, for starters, how about the collective responsibility on which all administrations depend? I’m not sure that the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon or Labour’s Mark Drakeford would want to be bound by the collective decisions of a Tory government. And as for Northern Ireland — where the First Minister and Deputy First Minister are of equal standing and one of them is a Sinn Fein politician — how’s that going to work?

Kennedy wasn’t alone in shooting from the hip. For instance, Professor Brian Cox might have paused a bit longer before tweeting in response to Priti Patel:

He was, of course, expressing his disdain for a certain style of political rhetoric rather than the British people themselves, but why shouldn’t ministers speak and act in our name? It is their duty, after all — and it would be weird if their language didn’t reflect that fact. The Professor may recall the New Labour years when ministers also invoked ‘the people’ and ‘the British people’. I wonder if he felt equally sick about it back then? Or perhaps he thought that things could only get better?

Jessica Simor QC has also had a lively August online. For instance, here she is tweeting about the CANZUK concept (the idea of a political union of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom):

As many people pointed out, including Paul Embery, exactly the same could be said about Simor’s beloved European Union — if not more so. When challenged, she responded that “geography chooses itself”. Well, yes — but then so does a common language and shared institutions.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with expressing an opinion. And there’s not much wrong with a hot take. If we all had to sit down and fully justify everything we say before we said it, then all would be silence. The comment business (in which I must declare an interest) would collapse overnight.
But must we be quite so intemperate about the people and ideas we disagree with? They may be wrong, even laughably wrong, but enough with the hyperbole.

One may believe that first ministers should sit in Cabinet, but is it necessarily “disgraceful” that they do not? One might not like ministers invoking “the British people”, but should the phrase be “banned from political discourse”? And one can surely disagree with the idea of CANZUK (and I have my doubts) without calling it “racist”.

At the very least, those who don’t like “inflammatory and divisive” rhetoric should lead by example.

Join the discussion


  • August 21, 2020
    Try this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2lc8HkOJco I love the way she starts off so smug and starts to lose it as she realises he is not buying into her narrative. She conflates the subject with the use to which it is put. It is not maths which is racist but it can be used in racist situations.... Read more

  • August 21, 2020
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M6DxY2JVww If I understand her correctly, it depends what you are counting. 2pencils +2pencils=4 pencils is OK; 2slaves +2slaves =4slaves makes maths racist. She is conflating the subject with the use to which it is put. By the same token nuclear power is racist... Read more

  • August 17, 2020
    IMO Brian Cox has a point. Invoking the 'British people' card over the complex small boat/refugee/economic migrant question is, I think, missing the point. It's complex, it's technical, it's an issue, get on and sort it out with as little fuss as possible; to reignite the Brexit conflagration... Read more

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