Brendan O’Neill

Spare us Nish Kumar and the BBC’s anti-Brexit sneering

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Friday was Brexit day. The day that the largest act of democracy in the history of this country was finally enacted. The day when the wishes of 17.4m people finally became a reality. And how did the BBC, the national broadcaster, mark this extraordinary democratic day? With a sneer, of course. A smug, aloof, bitter sneer at the entire country.

Not only did BBC reporters huff and moan at the mass pro-Brexit gathering in Parliament Square, coming off like anthropologists who had happened upon some bizarre, exotic tribe. It also chose that day to push out anti-Brexit nonsense via its kids’ wing, CBBC. Yes, even children must now be subjected to the media elite’s Brexitphobic claptrap.

On iPlayer and Twitter, Auntie pumped out old Horrible Histories clips to remind people that Britain is actually a bit of a naff nation. It was all anchored by Nish Kumar, a comedian, allegedly. He’s the most Radio 4 comedian ever. Hates Brexit? Check. Bashes Boris? Check. Thinks everyone is racist? Check. Has bread rolls thrown at him whenever he performs to people who didn’t go to Oxbridge? Check, check, check.

"British things… turns out there’s hardly any.”@MrNishKumar and @HHTV_ are spilling the tea on British stuff in #HorribleHistories #Brexit special ☕️ Streaming now on @BBCiPlayer 👉 @RealMatBaynton

— CBBC (@cbbc) January 31, 2020

Kumar introduced one of the vids by saying, ‘Britain is striking out on its own and leaving Europe. Goooo Britain.’ The ‘Goooo Britain’ bit was of course said with expert bourgeois sarcasm to indicate that Kumar, like literally every other person in the groupthink milieu he mixes in, doesn’t actually think Britain can do anything on its own, useless fools that we are.

We were then treated to a 2009 Horrible History skit in which a scowling Queen Victoria mistakenly thinks tea, sugar and cotton are British inventions, only to be disabused of this idiocy by her butler. He informs Her Majesty that these things actually come from India and the Caribbean and are often produced for us by slaves. The message, as the CBBC Twitter account made clear, was as follows:

‘British things… turns out there’s hardly any.’

What was the BBC thinking, pumping out anti-British propaganda to kids — and, via Twitter, to adults — on Brexit day? This cynical stunt was as conscious as it was crass. It was expressly aimed at bursting the Brexit bubble, dampening the Brexit day celebrations, and informing the ignorant throng that Britain has always been a foreign-influenced nation. So much so that there are 'hardly any’ British things at all.

This is clearly a lie. You don’t have to be a flag-waving, royalist crockery-collecting super-Brit to recognise that there are many, many British things and that this country has done so many things for its people to be proud of. From Magna Carta to Newtonian physics, from the Industrial Revolution to all that literature that has stirred souls across the globe for centuries, Britain is a little island that punches extraordinarily above its weight.

But the fashion today, especially among the morally emaciated liberal elites, is to obsess over the darker episodes in British history. This is a racist, colonialist, rampaging country whose sins still echo across the earth, they endlessly bleat.

Even as someone whose family hail from the west of Ireland, and whose very recent forefathers died in a famine Britain did little to alleviate, and whose family hometown was plundered and burnt by British forces less than 100 years ago, and whose parents had a bit of a rough time when they migrated to Britain in the early 1970s, I know that this is juvenile, one-sided, anti-British drivel. Britain is a bloody amazing country.

And yet, Britain-bashing is all the rage among the chattering classes. No dinner party is complete now without a bit of Britain-mockery. Affecting shame about Britain’s history is how the posh and the well-educated distinguish themselves from the masses, whose flag-waving and patriotism they find repulsive.

Witness posho George Monbiot getting in on the Nish Kumar act by reminding the plebs that even their roast dinner isn’t British:

‘For those contemplating a patriotic Brexit Sunday roast, please remember: Your roast beef was domesticated in Mesopotamia. Your potatoes originated in South America. And your Brussels sprouts, er, well…’

There is nothing radical or even interesting about the anti-British posturing of well-off Guardianistas or comics who live off the public purse courtesy of the BBC. It’s just sneering. Sneering at Brexit, sneering at history, and sneering at the little people who dare to take pride in their nation. These bourgeois pessimists are getting really boring.