Dehumanising language should not be used in civic debate – unless you are deliberately dog-whistling to vile extremists, writes Scott Begbie.
So, whose bingo card of mad nonsense for 2023 had a tweet from a sports presenter as the spark for a revolt against an inhumane and increasingly right-wing Tory government?
No, me neither, but these days nothing is able to surprise or shock me.
However, you have to applaud the principled stand Gary Lineker has taken after he was pilloried for stating something the vast majority of decent people in this country believe.
If the UK Government doesn’t want the language it uses to be described as akin to that of 1930s Germany, then it shouldn’t be talking about “swarms” or “an invasion” of “billions” of migrants. Dehumanising language like that should not be used in civic debate – unless you are deliberately dog-whistling to vile extremists who now think it is safe to crawl out of the woodwork.
Lineker was absolutely right to call out the government. And the backlash against him, mounted by Tory MPs and the right-wing press, was quite clearly a concerted attempt to silence dissent.
Thank goodness his fellow sports presenters took a stand with a delightful “I’m Sporticus”, refusing to appear on programmes in solidarity with a respected colleague. And the outpouring of public support proves the sports pundits are on the right side of history, unlike the grisly gang in power at Westminster.
This BBC impartiality faff is dancing on the head of a pin – especially when it has been blatantly inconsistent in who it is applied to. Public figures associated with the BBC seem to be fine to big up the government and its policies on their own social media, but will be punished if they criticise. Hopefully the independent review of those guidelines brings clarity and much-needed fairness and justice.
The Lineker affair became even murkier when the BBC’s own chairman was revealed as a major Tory party donor who is being probed for his role in helping Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan.
Immigration bill is a callous distraction
Linekergate will, of course, blow over. But let’s hope it has a lasting legacy by focusing attention on the inhumane Illegal Immigration Bill and the evil thinking behind it.
The proposed legislation would see people seeking safety on these shores via small boats being arrested and immediately deported without appeal or due process. That includes women who are being trafficked and children who are fleeing wars – all turfed from a safe haven without their case being heard.
That goes against any shred of justice which is, or should be, the bedrock of our nation. It also goes against international law.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shrieks it is the people’s priority to stop the small boats. No, it’s not
No, it’s not. It’s to stop our energy bills from soaring, stop our weekly shopping costs going through the roof, stop our mortgages and rents becoming unaffordable.
This disgusting immigration bill is a callous distraction that blames “the other” for woes inflicted by the Tory government in Westminster on ordinary people.
Hopefully Gary Linker’s stand will prompt others to pick up the torch of justice, dignity and tolerance and start to roll back this heart of darkness polluting our society.
Scott Begbie is a long-time journalist and editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express