Oh so you all love Danny Dyer now? The turnaround in Dyer’s fortunes over the past 12 hours has been extraordinary. He’s gone from being the butt of posh tweeters’ jokes to a celebrated political sage. From a ridiculous uber-lad whose cosying up to football’s hard men and promiscuous use of words like ‘slags’ and ‘twats’ provoked laughter and/ or horror among the chattering classes, to the Twitterati’s favourite working-class person. What changed? He dissed Brexit. And if you diss Brexit, they love you.
The resurrection of Danny Dyer occurred on Good Evening Britain yesterday, a TV show for those gluttons for punishment who don’t quite get enough of Piers Morgan in the morning and need a further injection of his oafish self-righteousness at nighttime too. On a panel that also included Jeremy Corbyn, Ed Balls and Pamela Anderson — where are the nuclear codes when you need them? — Dyer had a pop at Brexit and at David Cameron, ‘THE TWAT’, for bringing Brexit about. Cue the fluttering of a million middle-class Brexitphobic hearts.
‘No one has a f**king clue what Brexit is. No one knows what it is, it’s like this mad riddle’, Dyer said. And it’s all the fault of ‘that twat David Cameron’, he continued. Morgan interjected that surely he meant ‘the former prime minister...’, but Dyer stormed on:
‘How come he can scuttle off? He called this on. Where is he? He’s in Europe, in Nice, with his trotters up. Where is the geezer? I think he should be held accountable for it.’
Corbyn’s face was a picture, admittedly. Balls chortled, which is all he does these days. Pam looked bamboozled. And the internet went into meltdown. Dyer trended on Twitter. The press picked it up. ‘Danny Dyer just called David Cameron a “t***” in a rant about Brexit live on ITV’, said a headline in the Independent, Indy writers sounding for all the world like square head boys who just overheard the school’s one rough kid say a rude word. Corbynistas went wild for Dyer and you can hardly blame them: it’s the first time these Glasto-attending, Vice-reading sons and daughters of middling privilege have ever seen a working-class person who agrees with them. ‘There! A person from the other side of the tracks who shares our views!’ They’re beside themselves.
All this Dyer-love is a bit strange because — and I say this as someone who has always had a soft spot for Danny — his commentary last night is the most stupid thing he’s ever come out with. No one knows what Brexit means? Yes we do. It means leaving the European Union. There could not be a more straightforward political demand.
As to blaming Cameron: all he did was call the referendum. Then he lost it. He ‘scuttled’ off because the people, in their millions, rejected his vision for Britain and the EU, making his position as PM pretty untenable. Cameron didn’t cause Brexit; the public did, and in the process they caused Cameron’s demise too. If Dyer wants to hold someone ‘accountable’, he should look around him, in the teeming streets, on buses, at his workplace: us ‘twats’ who made Brexit happen, we’re everywhere.
The commentariat’s Damascene embrace of Dyer has been excruciating. They’re applauding him for making the best-ever comment about Brexit. There’s a noble savage element to this, where well-to-do observers are overexcited that someone who doesn’t sound like them has given voice to their own grating, exhausting fear of the ‘riddle’ of Brexit. When people with coarse accents put their hand up on Question Time and defend Brexit, these same commentators lay into them. They call them ‘gammon’, the favoured dehumanising term of the new left for poorer people who don’t share their views. Indeed, who wants to bet that if Dyer had stood up for Brexit last night, and called, say, Keir Starmer a ‘twat’, he would right now find himself branded King Gammon, leader of the uncouth, a reminder why people without degrees shouldn’t be allowed to comment on politics.
As it is, this strange re-evaluation of Danny Dyer tells us an important story: if you share the liberal elite’s views, they’ll embrace you; if you don’t, you’re out, you’re no good, you’re gammon. Tolerance — don’t you just love it?