Saturday 11 March 2023

Not just close to the language of 1930s Germany

 So the outrage over Gary Lineker's comments that some of the language used by the Home Secretary to launch and defend her asylum policy has wreaked havoc to this weekend's football schedule on the BBC. Now this is the thing, Gary only compared that language to 1930s Germany, anyone with a little knowledge of the diaries, biographies from pre-war British politicians will be able to point out to something a little closer to home.

There are three types of sources we can learn from history. First there are straight forward history texts, these are often written long enough after the event to sanitise some of the comment. Then is biography of those involved, these need to be taken with a pinch of salt, some as sycophantic in their praise for their subjects, others are the reverse written by those who disagree with them, occasionally you will find a balanced view but even that will have omissions. Then there are the firsthand documents, speeches, diaries etc. 

As someone who is still plodding through the unabridged diaries of Chips Cannon (I'm now on volume 3) I have read the pre-war entries. I can see why when the diaries were first to be printing that many leading lights in politics were nervous until they were told they would be heavily edited. You see the thing is in those diaries are recorded the language, thoughts and opinions of many of those in the Conservative party and British aristocracy that Cannon mingled with. The language used by Braverman is actually very similar to that of many in pre-war Britain who were sympathetic or enthusiastic for the National Socialist Party in Germany.

Now I doubt that Gary has an extensive a political library that I have. There were of course members of the Conservative Party who were opposed to too close a link with Germany during that period. But as Churchill himself pointed out these were his wilderness years as he was away from the main thrust of his party. However, there were many to the right of the Conservative party at that time who either flirted with or espoused fascist ideology. That group is worrying, looking at them and the attack on asylum seekers from the current Conservative party they would seem to fit right in with the current party and policies, some of which are actually taken straight out of the National Front policy book from the 1970s.

So here's the thing the actions from the Government calling out against the criticism of their policy, forcing what is meant to be an impartial public service braodcaster take a side is this debate, is exactly the opposite of impartiality. They never rile against opinion when it is strongly in their favour. They never stand up when the exclusion of pro-European voices such as the Liberal Democrats were missing from many of the political panel shows during the lead up to the referendum to leave the EU. No, the cries from Westmister, despite the wolf call from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport that "indivual cases are a matter for the BBC" are actually the signs of repression of freedom of speech. One side of a culture war is given carte blanche but dare to speak out on the other side and we will shut you down.

Today there are no presenters, pundits or commentators, willing to bring football to the BBC. So no Football Focus, no Final Score no match commentary of Radio 5 Live, no Fighting Talk on the radio tomorrow either. Match of the Day  itself will have no pundits, no commentary (from the usual freelancers) and maybe also not any interviews with players or managers. 

People are standing up and wanting to be counted. The mood may be that the language is divisive, the language is hedging towards that of Mosley's New Party in the early 30s here on British soil. The football community this weekend may be making a stand against that language in their own version of Cable Street. 

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