By Ben Pensant
Since Labour fell into the hands of bedsit militants it’s been tempting to sit back and marvel as Jezza holds the Tories to task by disappearing for days on end, giving speeches at events organised by rape apologists and refusing to condemn Putin as he bombs the shit out of Aleppo. However, it would be complacent to simply revel in the joy of watching Her Majesty’s Opposition taken over by people who’ve spent their careers in duffle coats selling badges. Because the regressive left is for life, not just Saturday afternoons in Hyde Park. Defending the oppressed, targeting the powerful, sending death threats to people we disagree with – these are all parts of an ongoing process which requires skill, dedication and a horde of smug liberals hysterically accusing people of racism on the internet. Which brings us to Gary Lineker.
Or rather, his new fans and their fantastic online reaction to his recent plea for tolerance towards child migrants – and his subsequent spat with The Sun – which saw the former England striker beatified by social media. Since then Lineker’s every utterance on the subject of Lineker has been greeted with a level of reverence not seen since Trump supporter Caitlyn Jenner was anointed High Priestess of decency and goodness by the same tolerant liberals now calling Trump supporters indecent and evil.
Lineker’s path to sainthood began after pictures emerged of 14 child refugees arriving in Britain from the Calais jungle. Almost instantly the right-wing press took a break from smearing Jeremy Corbyn by reporting stuff he’s said and done to question whether these youngsters were, as they claimed, under 18. This suspicion was clearly motivated by The Sun et al’s hatred of foreigners and nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that most of these children had beards, wrinkles and the haggard look of men who’ve spent 30 days trapped down a South American copper mine. And sure enough, Tory trolls and people with eyes seized upon these inconclusive photos as evidence that adult migrants often pose as children, something which all liberals know never happens. Despite all the first hand evidence which suggests it happens rather a lot.
And this was where our new favourite Match Of The Day presenter steamed in: ‘The treatment of some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and absolutely heartless’ he lamented on Twitter, asking ‘what is happening to our country?’. Who he meant by ‘some’ wasn’t made clear but as this tweet arrived the day after the pictures of the child migrants who looked a lot like adults and came hot on the heels of the press and people on the internet pointing out these child migrants looked a lot like adults it’s fair to say Gary was probably talking about people who thought these child migrants looked a lot like adults. Which made them all ‘hideous racists’ for buying the MSM line that the reason many child migrants look a lot like adults is because many child migrants are actually adults.
Predictably, Lineker was abused on social media and before long The Express and The Daily Mail had joined the hate campaign. They even had the nerve to run stories featuring supposed ‘experts’ to back up their bigoted theory that migrants sometimes lie about their age. This roll call of hideous racists included carers, charities, foster parents, aid workers, immigration officers, other migrants and even the Home Office, who poured petrol on the fire by releasing unnecessary statistics showing two-thirds of Calais refugees who had their ages assessed in the last year were found to be over 18 despite claiming to be children. Luckily, as these statistics and first hand accounts came exclusively from the right-wing media – as well as renowned Tory mouth-pieces The Independent, The Mirror, the BBC and ITV – they could be easily ignored or dismissed as part of the anti-migrant conspiracy, much like the inconvenient reports from Sweden estimating 70% of migrants lie about their age.
Such xenophobic fearmongering is typical of the Swedes though, a nation of 9.8million who demonstrated their xenophobia by taking in 160,000 refugees in 2015. Not only that, they have a long history of carrying out humiliating dental checks on migrants to determine their age, a dehumanising process which has no place in the caring, sharing EU despite the fact it’s common practice in all but 3 member states. One of which is Britain and I’m as shocked as anyone to finally report something good about this hate-crime ravaged isle. Indeed, this compassionate stance by the Home Office shows how tolerant and humane we are that we’re willing to let actual refugee children remain in a squalid, dangerous camp while men twice their age jump the queue, are absorbed into the care system and handed the freedom to drink beer, smoke tabs and share bunk-beds with 10 year olds.
Because thanks to our Home Office’s commendably lax age verification process – which apparently amounts to nothing more than asking someone how old they are – we now have the delightful situation where unaccompanied refugee kids barely out of nappies are overtaken on the list of priorities by slightly older migrant kids who look like extras from the Ken Loach re-make of Assault On Precinct 13. And this latter group are to be defended at all costs, not just from Murdoch press attacks but also interfering aid and charity workers whining about the supposedly more ‘deserving’ kids left behind. Of course, none of these Tory shills mouthing off to the Telegraph provide any proof of these neglected tots, apart from official reports, eyewitness accounts and video evidence.
But as all regressives know, we live in a world where footage of Jeremy Corbyn paying tribute to a theocracy that hangs homosexuals can be mocked up and planted on YouTube by Zionists before you can say ‘alien autopsy’. So all the first hand evidence can be taken with a huge pinch of salt; just because they’ve actually been to the camp doesn’t mean they know more than those of us who’ve read about it in The Guardian. A paper, by the way, that took the compassionate-and-not-ideological-in-the-slightest decision NOT to publish the photos of the bearded children out of respect for their privacy. The same respect they showed 3 year old Syrian Aylan Kurdi last year when in another compassionate-and-not-ideological-in-the-slightest move they splashed photos of his dead body washed up on the shore of Bodrum all over their front page. See how sensitivity’s done, Dacre?
Of course, any good will the Home Office garnered for their admirable approach to age verification was destroyed when they decided to pander to Neo-Con groupthink by releasing the aforementioned statistics showing 2/3 of Calais refugees had lied about their ages. Or at least it would have been were it not for the fact that most social media liberals weren’t aware of the stats and the ones who were either dismissed them as lies or claimed they were taken out of context. ‘Yeah well what do the fucking useless Home Office know?’ was the general response from the few who acknowledged the existence of the widely reported figures. The very same few who had previously lauded the Home Office as a beacon of compassion for not subjecting migrants to the same checks which virtually every other country in Europe has for years. Checks which would have resolved this issue conclusively long before ownership of the argument fell into the hands of ranting demagogues on left and right. Phew.
Because as we know, being seen to show compassion for refugees is far more important than actually helping them. Why waste your own compassion when you can just pinpoint someone with less compassion – a Tory, perhaps, or a Jew – and attack them for it? Far more satisfying is the special skewed compassion that allows us to show solidarity with the people jumping ahead of vulnerable children. Well fear not, kids – you’ll get your turn in the spotlight. But last week was all about the incredible ageing boys and this is why we must fight attempts to derail the narrative, such as lies, smears and demonstrable proof that migrants sometimes lie about their age. This is the Home Office’s real crime and one far greater than their cack-handed approach to checks. Because inconvenient truths like this have the potential to make the liberal left look blind or stupid. And that simply can not happen.
Because on the modern left using our own eyes and acknowledging unpleasant facts is to be discouraged at all costs if it messes with the narrative. In this case a narrative that has decreed every young man in the Calais Jungle is a harmless child refugee fleeing war-torn Syria. Which, as leading geopolitical analyst Lily Allen put it recently, is war-torn because of Britain. Therefore it’s our duty to let every single one into the UK with as little done as possible to guarantee the most in need are given first priority. Got it?
The fact that numerous charities and immigration services have categorically stated most of the males in Calais are economic migrants from Sub Saharan Africa is irrelevant – modern liberal compassion doesn’t discriminate between those most in need and those pulling a fast one and the statements were probably made up by the Tories anyway. Far easier to pat ourselves on the back for caring so much about vulnerable children that we’re perfectly happy for them to remain in a squalid camp while young Syrian refugees – many of whom are neither young, Syrian or refugees – are given access to all the luxuries our society has to offer, such as food, warmth and Spider-Man pyjamas.
But luckily for Lineker and his new devotees a trump card was waiting to be played as one of the children who The Sun claimed was around 38 was revealed to be a UN interpreter. Quick as a flash, social media burst into action and lambasted the Wapping wankers for lying. Lineker himself replied to a Tweet revealing The Sun’s deception with a sarcastic ‘Wow! Surely not!’. A Tweet which was subsequently removed when the story took a new twist with the revelation that the interpreter story was actually bollocks and the 38 year old-looking child was a refugee.
Unsurprisingly the avalanche of frothing ‘See! I told you so!’ proclamations abruptly stopped but this was of little importance as the meme had already worked its magic. So magical in fact that even now, a week later, social media is awash with people who still think the hapless lad was an interpreter, David Davies is the devil and unicorns exist. Job done.
Which led to The Sun’s most shameful moment as they realised peppering arguments with truth and evidence holds little sway over public opinion so they tried another tactic and called for Lineker to be sacked. The gall of them to attack freedom of speech was not only pitiful but hugely offensive to the left: it’s OUR job to go around policing opinions and demanding people lose their jobs and we won’t be giving it up soon no matter how many of our PC clothes are culturally appropriated by the right.
Thankfully the compassionates mobilised, decrying The Sun’s attempts to shut down debate and punish views they disagree with. Where these free-speech advocates were when the liberal establishment were forcing a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist to resign for making a quip about female scientists isn’t clear. And why there wasn’t similar outrage from the anti-censorship left when Dapper Laughs: On The Pull was removed from ITV2 after 50 comics signed a letter urging them to cancel the series is a mystery. Because as all leftists know – as well as the editors of The Sun, the bloody copycats – freedom of speech only applies to people we like. So if this means pressuring a respected academic to abandon his life’s work for telling a harmless anecdote about women crying then so be it. If it results in comics campaigning to censor a fellow comic because they don’t like his leering, sexist dimwit alter-ego playing gigs in which he behaves like a leering, sexist dimwit then tough shit. You need only consider the 68,000 signatures on the successful petition to cancel …On The Pull to see how popular The New Censoriousness is.
Apart from when The Sun get in on the act, obvs. When that happens we have to double down. So we can’t simply say that Lineker should be perfectly entitled to express a political opinion without impacting his job; no, we have to also defend his assumption that doubting the migrants’ ages is ‘hideously racist’ and his propagation of the fictitious ‘interpreter’ narrative. We can’t simply point out The Sun are huge hypocrites to call for someone to be sacked when they regularly deride special snowflakes for doing the same; no, we have to accuse them of making up quotes, publishing fake statistics and deliberately stirring up hatred against the wrinkled young boys of Calais who all look like middle-aged men because they’ve spent their childhoods running from tyranny. Despite the fact that the European Commission have pointed out 60% of them are economic migrants who literally haven’t.
Happily, at the time of writing the Calais Jungle is in the process of being dismantled, helped along by residents who decided to chip in by setting fire to a tent and almost burning 17 refugees alive. Then setting fire to another. And another. And some shops. And restaurants. Clearly in their desperation to reach Britain many refugees have decided enough’s enough and who can blame them? It’s a knocking bet the right-wing press’s offensive coverage played a huge part in inciting these crimes and the only way to rectify this is to offer those responsible freedom, shelter and generous benefits. If that means jumping to the front of the queue at the expense of unaccompanied children in need of help then so be it (we can always blame The Sun for that too).
And should any of these kids end up a pile of burnt bones as the chaos at the camp intensifies then all the better. There’s nothing us liberals like more than a grisly photo op to get the self-righteous juices flowing. The last thing we need is for actual vulnerable children to be let into the country and helped when it’s far more beneficial to our sense of superiority to have them smouldering in Calais or decomposing on a beach. And for these sacrifices we should honour and cherish every dead child for reminding everyone who the issue is really about: us.
So what began as a potentially narrative-damaging chain of events turned into a triumphant week for the left, as our favoured tactics of spreading lies and ignoring evidence paid off handsomely. And while we may not have won the argument the whole process gave our moral superiority a healthy top-up. Credit too to Lineker for adopting the tried and tested manoeuvre of making wild claims online then hastily deleting them and pretending it never happened.
Ultimately though, as grateful as we are to Gary for giving us an excuse to be the most compassionate people in the room, his major flaw was his warmth and likeability. This meant even those who disagreed with him probably had some sympathy, despite on the whole being racists, xenophobes and sons of bitches. He was also a marvellous striker and a genial, knowledgeable presence on Match Of The Day. Which makes me doubt he has the talent, backbone and obnoxious opinions necessary to beat the trolls. Far better to get the message across by having zero warmth and credibility whatsoever, a trick pulled off by early ’90s icon turned obnoxiously opinionated political commentator, Terry Christian.
As anyone lucky enough to have witnessed the mouthy DJ’s regular Twitter spats will know, Terry is a maverick who pulls no punches, sticking two fingers up at the public in a manner befitting a celebrity who no sod outside Manchester or under 35 has heard of. As well as displaying his working-class credentials by questioning the IQ of Leave voters and branding them all ‘a bit tinfoil hat, a bit Little Englander’, Terry has a brilliant tactic for winning arguments on Twitter which involves butting into conversations, refusing to answer questions then calling anyone who disagrees with him a ‘fascist’, a ‘numbskull’ or a ‘fascist numbskull’. Before blocking them. But not before he’s accused them of ‘shutting down debate’, proving his grasp of irony is almost on par with his ability to make reading an autocue look as mentally taxing as quantum mechanics. But this is the type of bravado we expect from the only man in history to present a TV show with Tony Wilson on which the former Factory boss was the second biggest cunt. So if Lineker is serious about cementing his position in the hearts of the regressive left he could do worse than take a leaf out of Terry’s book, whose opinions on the migrant crisis are just as nuanced, tolerant and apparently scribbled in crayon by a drunk 5 year old as his thoughts on Brexit.
So come on, Mr Lineker – it’s time to behave like a man his mid-50s is supposed to and start swearing at people on the internet whose opinions you don’t like. You’ll feel much better for it and frankly it’s the best education on offer. Who better to school you in political discourse than a cheeky northerner whose greatest contribution to television history was a man eating his own sick?
Just say The Word, Gary.