Racism is LBC's not-so-secret ingredient and it's no surprise that Sir Keir Starmer swallowed it
The Labour leader is triangulating so wildly that if he took a stand he'd fall over.
|Mic Wright||Dec 15, 2020||1|
I have appeared on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show on a few occasions. The last time was for what his producers hoped would be a ding-dong about the Eton master who was sacked after refusing to take down a tediously sexist lecture from YouTube. I hewed to a terribly reasonable line, which prevented the old Austin Allegro from getting into his usually indignant stride. I’m sure he was livid.
As well as occasionally acquiescing to the feverish pleas of over-worked, underpaid producers to appear on it, I listen to a lot of talk radio for professional rather than enjoyment reasons. That’s why I was not even remotely surprised when Sir Keir Starmer, during his monthly struggle session with Nick Ferrari, was abused with far-right talking points and… totally failed to challenge them beyond sort of mumbling.
In this case, both Ferrari and Starmer were subjected to groyping — a relatively new term for an old tactic where far-right activists and supporters trojan horse their way into a discussion by posing as ‘reasonable’ before spewing far-right theories, talking points and memes before they can be cut off.
‘Gemma from Cambridge’ is not called Gemma and she apparently lives in Ibiza. As Red Flare uncovered, she’s Jody Swingler aka Jody Kay aka — 🤢 — “The White Butterfly”. A supporter of Patriotic Alternative, a far-right party founded last year by British neo-Nazi and conspiracy theorist, Mark Collett, who was previously director of publicity for the British National Party.
Swingler’s YouTube channel features a video series called “the white pill” drawing on The Matrix meme of the red pill and blue pill to encourage people to be ‘awakened’ to far-right thinking.
At the start of one video that I watched she explicitly notes that all donations she receives will go to Patriotic Alternative. In the screenshot below from the same video, you can see her talking with James Goddard, the right-wing activist who was given a restraining order last month for threatening a journalist, and another right-wing YouTuber who goes by the name Richard the Lionheart.
They talk in the video about ‘white pilling’ young people and bringing them into far-right movements. Groyping, while it is an act of trolling, is also about pushing far-right talking points further into the mainstream.
Here’s what Jody (as Gemma) said on LBC, posing as a woman whose husband, a Milwall fan had booed at players taking the knees:
“If anything the racial equality is now against the indigenous people of Britain because we are set to become a minority by 2066. And taking the knee — bringing the political sphere into the football arena… we just have to look across to the Middle East, Israel has a state law that they are the only people in that country to have self-determination. Why can’t I as a white British female have that same right?”
Nick Ferrari didn’t notice or much care that ‘Gemma’ was pushing ‘the Great Replacement’, a white nationalist conspiracy theory that has inspired terror attacks in Germany, New Zealand and the United States. Why? Because Ferrari himself, while more careful in his language, is no stranger to racist tropes. Here he is writing for the Express earlier this month:
Given the chance to respond to ‘Gemma’, Starmer offered bland pablum about “people” wanting “justice”. Which people, Keir? And justice for what? The generalisation is there for a reason. He doesn’t want to say anything too specific or concrete for fear of frightening off the ‘conservative’ ‘reasonable concerns’ voters he’s hoping to lure over to Labour. I’m surprised he wasn’t sipping his water from a vintage Labour ‘Controls on Immigration’ mug. Here’s what he said:
“But Gemma, we all have those rights. This is about recognising an injustice that has gone on for a very, very long time. And I think people were genuinely moved this year and want to make sure that injustice is dealt with. People will look at it in different ways, but I think the vast majority of people want a more equal society.”
Starmer was triangulating there so fast that if he took a stand he would have toppled over completely. He is so desperately afraid of being Gillian Duffied — ‘caught out’ by the media like Gordon Brown was when he called a bigot a bigot before quickly reversing course and sitting down for tea and racist tropes with her — that he cannot even take on transparently white supremacist ideology. How thorough was that unconscious bias training he promised to attend? He would have had to be unconscious to have an acceptable excuse for not seeing what ‘Gemma’ was talking about.
LBC’s raison d’etre is to stoke up division — whether it’s Ferrari giving the most unhinged tabloid editorials a fleshy avatar or James O’Brien who follows him most mornings providing a ‘reasonable’ view and hoping no one remembers when he was an Express hack or hosted a Jeremy Kyle-style TV bear pit which pushed many right-wing talking points to its daytime audience. For reference, Jim Davidson appeared on 5 of the 10 episodes broadcast, which went out in the dim and distant past of… 2015. If you watch the video above you’ll notice the cosy beard was a much later addition.
Keir Starmer rocking up once a month to chat with Nick Ferrari and racism featuring in the conversation is like going scuba diving and encountering fish — it’s just part of the environment. And Starmer, for all his posturing about his career as a human rights lawyer, has a very simple set of political beliefs — “I should be Prime Minister because I am ‘competent’ but I won’t rock the boat.” That’s it. And he will say and do whatever he thinks is necessary to walk through the door of Number 10. If that means nodding and mumbling while a white supremacist rants at him, well so be it.
Starmer’s most vociferous defenders have framed his response as “reasonable”. That’s the weakest of weak sauces. When confronted with obvious racism the least you would expect from a leader who claims to lead an anti-racist party is a full-throated criticism of those views, a denial of the twisted rationale that underpins them. Keir Starmer just delivered his usual ‘forensic’ act.
As you can see in the above tweet, the racists think his answer was politically-correct rubbish while most of the rest of us think it was cowardice of the highest order. Once again he let down BAME communities that voted for Labour in 2019 but which may find it much more difficult to line up behind Sir Shiftsalot. If Starmer had any minerals, he would give LBC their monthly dog and pony show, let alone listen quietly to white supremacist rhetoric. But he doesn’t so the circus will keep trundling on.