Exactly a year ago this week I was at a dinner party when a famous opinion pollster leaned over to me and said: ‘You know, the best thing about this election is that within two years Chuka Umunna will be the leader of the Labour party and Sajid Javid the leader of the Conservatives.’
He was referring to the last general election — the dinner party had been convened a week before it took place. I think the chap had been invited to tell us all what would happen at the polls — and indeed he delivered a lengthy and earnest peroration on this subject, utilising all the expertise and political nous he had built up over the years.
The following week, then, we dinner-party guests would be able to muse how a pig, blinded at birth by inherited syphilis, deafened by having a knitting needle inserted into both of its eardrums, and rendered utterly insentient through having ingested vast quantities of heroin, ketamine and crack cocaine, would have made a much better stab at predicting the election outcome than this unctuous pharisiacal joker.
On election night itself, as the results came in, I saw the pollster on TV. He was being asked to account for how he had got everything so terribly, terribly wrong. He had a very — how can I put it? — defensive posture on screen, to my mind. As if someone had accused him of raping a badger, when in fact he could prove, right now, David, that he had enjoyed no contact with a badger, had never met a badger and that the thought of having non-consensual sexual relations with a badger was the last thing he would ever do. He had his arms folded and a very grim expression on his face. His TV explanation seemed to be along the lines that he and the various pollsters had got the result exactly right, but the idiotic voters had got the result wrong.
Scroll back for a second. His comment about Chuka and Sajid perplexed me for a while. ‘Why would that be a good thing?’ I asked, genuinely confused, and helped myself to more wine. ‘It will show how far we have come,’ he replied, either sententiously or sanctimoniously, I was too blitzed to tell. And being thus blitzed I did not get exactly what he was driving at — until after another vast gulp or two of Sauvignon Blanc it suddenly dawned! The bloke was actually a racist! When he looked at Chuka and Sajid he did not see two talented and personable politicians. That they were of black or minority ethnic origin was the only thing that mattered to this man.
The liberal left, of which this man was most definitely a sponsor, will grab at anything in order to corral it into their own forlorn and absolutist little pen. Obsessive and determined to shoehorn their agenda into everything. Yes, even Leicester City. Like an awful lot of people who enjoy football but have misgivings about the grotesquely moneyed circus of the Premier League, I have been thrilled by Leicester’s success this season. It is, according to the commentators and even to the likeable and frequently tearful Italian manager, Claudio Ranieri, a ‘fairy tale come true’. Almost the entire footballing world, except for those in north London, are willing the Foxes to win the title.
Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell went along to a Leicester game — and what do you suppose he saw? After the game, he tweeted his experience: ‘Fantastic to see fairly high proportion of non-white faces in the crowd at Leicester City. All too rare at most clubs.’ What? So while 31,961 people were captivated by Leonardo Ulloa and Riyad Mahrez tearing Swansea City apart, Alastair had his face turned in the other direction. He was taking a census. He was counting non-white faces. A bit like my mum used to do when she came up to visit me in London — ‘I counted more than 20 of them in one street alone, Rod.’
Leicester is indeed one of our most diverse cities, with a 28 per cent Indian population. It is not surprising that the crowd should be diverse too. But it is not an anomaly — Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea and even my much smaller club, Millwall, have loads of black and minority ethnic supporters. One of the few clubs which doesn’t is Alastair’s team, Burnley, of course, a town in which the BNP were once the majority party. Anyway, Campbell was told to stop being so crass and ridiculous by other Twitter users (who were promptly called ‘plonkers’ by Mr Campbell and even accused of being racist by the obsessive).
One chap asked: why bring race into everything? Well, precisely. That’s the point. But they have to, the metro-liberals. If something is perceived as being ‘good’, such as Leicester City’s charge for the title, then it has to be ‘good’ in all the ways which accord with the bien-pensant agenda. I am mildly surprised that Alastair did not give us an approving breakdown of the proportion of transgendered Leicester City fans and whether or not they had successfully transitioned.
They impose the same process upon the dead. Victoria Wood was not simply a very funny and talented comedian, she ‘empowered women’. She broke down barriers and led the way forward for the hitherto oppressed female hordes, stymied by a sexist culture, sort of a cross between Charlie Chaplin and Emmeline Pankhurst. The former artist formerly known as Prince was not simply a brilliant live performer and the writer of a dozen or so catchy tunes but — according to the Guardian, in two separate articles — he represented a ‘vital new black masculinity’ and ‘broke all the rules about what black American men should be’. When David Bowie died, we were assured that he had been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT rights. Lordy, enough already. Why can these people not be persuaded to see beyond their own narrow obsessions?