Peter Hitchens made one fundamental mistake in his Daily Mail article about Hitler. That mistake was not to argue that Hitler was ‘left wing’. The article served its function, in being a click magnet, and also in trolling individuals of a certain political persuasion.
The fundamental mistake was to define politics in terms of ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’. Nowadays it is hard to tell the difference between extreme left wing and extreme right wing. But it is also true that politics is not a summation of a million referenda. One of the few people who believed in referenda apart from David Cameron was of course Mussolini.
It is easy to be hyperbolic about the impact of Gary Lineker’s tweeting. Simple solutions would have included a quiet email from Tim Davie or Robbie Gibb to ask him to delete it. But the problem with the tweet is that it is entirely factually correct.
The language used by Braverman, ‘invasion’, is problematic. If Braverman cared about the optics of such a sensitive policy, she has failed.
She has become her own worst enemy, for different reasons to how Boris Johnson became his own worst enemy. There was an important discussion to be had about planning for migrants, for example through the known problems in social housing and local authority services. She has strangled at birth any discussion of this.
This can also be held to be a success. By offering the ultimate ‘dead cat’ of a problem which became opened up through inadequate foreign policy after Brexit, and by ramping up the rhetoric over immigration, Braverman has blown out of the water any sensible debate about this.
This has obliged the Tory Party to resort to a ‘culture war’. But the Gary Lineker tweet neutralises two culture war weapons.
Firstly, freedom of expression. You cannot ‘half believe’ in freedom of expression. This is like being half pregnant.
You may immediately riposte by saying ‘but the law says..’ Too often the law has been used as an argument to shut down any debate.
You may disagree with what he has to say, but his right to say it should be defended. It’s no different to Andrew Neil, Michael Portillo or Lord Sugar ‘having a voice’.
Secondly. it’s Gary Lineker just being ‘nice’ isn’t it? This causes a problem for the Tories. Boris Johnson was not given superstar status because of his immaculate attention to detail. It wasn’t even that he was ‘particularly nice’, as certain people might testify.
In a race between members of the Tory Party and personalities like Carol Vorderman, Marina Purkiss, Jemma Forte or Gary Lineker, the Tory Party cannot expect to win however well articulated their policies.
Gary Lineker has become a ‘lightning conductor’ partly due to massive unpopularity of the Tory Party. Aside from the fact that the Tory Party is an incoherent mess, and their policy solutions become even more desperate to bail themselves out of their self-inflicted ‘forced errors’, their only hope of scraping through is a divided Labour Party.
Those on the left wing are exasperated on the lack of fresh thinking of the monopoly effects of utility companies, or on Brexit, for example. They get exasperated about the lack of support from Labour for Gary Lineker or anyone on strike. Labour despite saying they’re not complacent are behaving as if they are very complacent.
The allegations against members of the Tory front bench on bullying, some already proven, are well known. Gary Lineker provides a further test case as to whether bullies win.
It seems that the BBC leadership and the Tory Party, despite public mutterings from Sunak otherwise, have formed some sort of dubious suicide pact such that they have already decided to go down in flames together.
If that were to happen, Gary Lineker would simply have to find an alternative outlet to present ‘Match Of The Day’.