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Kathy Gyngell: Too cool for school John Humphrys, aged 73, gets down with the kids


The Today programme never disappoints.  Monday’s edition was full of delights.  First, we had yet another opportunity to genuflect at the altar of Saint Brendan, the husband of Jo Cox. Sarah Montague’s interview opened with the categorical assertion that his wife was shot by ‘a man who supported the Far Right’. Full stop. There was no qualification, no further explanation.  Could there have mental health or drug issues perhaps, as with Lee Rigby’s killers?  No, she wasn’t going to upset the’ love in’ with Brendan or spoil his umpteenth BBC opportunity to reiterate his personal theory – that his wife’s  killing was ‘designed to divide us and make us hate each other’ ( my italics).

Respectful Sarah as opposed to hectoring Sarah (as when she is interviewing someone she doesn’t approve of like Lord Trimble or any other Ulster unionist – actually I can’t understand why the BBC doesn’t ‘no platform’ the disgusting DUP, can you?) gave Brendan his head. And surprise, surprise, this interview about hate crimes and healing  came to an end without  so much as mentioning the two most recent ‘hate attacks’ or ‘hate crimes’ to take place on British soil.

Funny really – not even to refer to the more than 30 people killed or the many more injured or maimed in the past months’ terrorist attacks by men who were pursuing core principles of atavistic  Islam. Or anything about the hate that drove these killers.  Or how the victims’ families were coping with their grievous and shocking loss.  But then it is the Far Right that is the problem not so-called Islamic State (Isil). And let’s face it, Isil and jihadist terror attacks are our fault for hating them! We only have ourselves to blame and no doubt Isil will evaporate after Brendan’s ‘Hope not Hate’ lunch this weekend.

If that were not enough, we were then treated to John Humphrys’s reverential and kid glove interview with Corbyn supporters; first-time voters (it’s all about what you can ‘get for free’);  ‘Grime artist’ Skata; and someone called ‘Bite the Ballot’ .

There is really nothing to say except hang your head in shame Mr Humphrys. Can he still call himself a journalist after this toe-curling interchange?

I leave you, dear reader, to decide. Read away and please give us your comments.

John Humphrys: The grime artist Skata playing at a Grime4Corbyn gig in the closing days of the campaign, one of the many events that helped bring out the youth vote for Jeremy Corbyn. He is on the line now, Mr . . . Skata that is, not Mr Corbyn (laughs)

Skata: That’s okay.

JH: (laughs) quite. And so is Michael Sani, who’s the head of Bite the Ballot, that’s an organisation that encourages young people to vote. Erm, I’ll tell you what Skata, just tell us, our audience might need a little bit of information about what grime is, in a couple of sentences, what is it?

S: Grime is like an urban genre of music, like hip-hop and rap . . .

JH: Right.

S:  . . . but it’s like the UK version of it.

JH: Right, the UK, specifically,  that’s the point, isn’t it, the UK version of it. What is it that appealed to you about Jeremy Corbyn?

S: I just like that he was about the people, he was about people like, like ourselves, coming from like normal working class areas and . . . stuff like that. And I really liked that he . . . he wanted to help the NHS, which is one thing about this country that we have left that is a good thing, and . . .

JH: (interrupting) So you did vote?

S: Yes, I voted for the first ever time, erm . . . this year, yeah.

JH: So none of the other Labour leaders you might have been able to vote for did it for you?

S: No.

JH: Why not?

S: Because they were supporting something that erm . . . something that I do, so basically, I was looking up to a major artist, say JME, who’s doing stuff with Jeremy Corbyn, like, I look up to JME, and . . . obviously, we have similar . . . probably like similar things that we, we wanted to go for, in terms of a party, and erm, yeah, basically everything that I wanted, Jeremy Corbyn was just ticking each and every box, every time.

JH:  Ah, that’s interesting. Michael Sani, is that your impression as well of what’s been going on here?

Michael Sani: Well, first of all I think it’s an absolute win for democracy, we’ve had the highest turnout of young voters and whatever has inspired them to come out should be celebrated and the other party should, should look closely at that and it should be built upon.  We’ve got to keep this interest alive so that people carry on throughout the process and not just turning out in elections.

JH: But, but again, the same question really that I put to Skata – what was it about Jeremy Corbyn specifically that made him so popular with young people, because he’s not actually particularly working class, I mean, middle-class background, you know, and all that sort of thing?

MS: I think he portrayed his values.  I think he shows a sense of social justice, he comes across as an honest person, erm, and spoke about politics in a way where he wanted to be solution-focused, he put forward the things he cared about and then how he would get there, and I think he captured the interest of, of many people and not to mention that the manifesto itself had clear things that young people cared about, whether it was tuition or ending homelessness, er . . .

JH:  (interrupting) How big was tuition, because to say to students, ‘If you vote for me, you won’t have to pay for your education at university at all, and we’ll pay off the debts as well’, erm, that must have been big?

MS: It must’ve been big, but you know, this isn’t just . . . this isn’t just young people, I mean, the older voters generally won on what they get for free, whether it’s winter fuel, erm, free prescriptions, free TV licence and, and many more, we’ve got political prioritisation going across the age groups . . .

JH: (speaking over) Well, another way of putting that is, of course, is the party that offers the biggest bribes to the most numbers of people are (laughter in voice) going to win?

MS: It could be, but the beautiful thing now is it’s going to have to change, we’re going to have to have diverse policies, because now we’ve got all ages involved in politics and parties are going to have to speak to everyone.

JH: Right, will you stay involved Skata?

S:  Yeah. Definitely.

JH: And how active will you be?  I mean you, you’ve done these concerts obviously, as you say . . .

S:  (speaking over) Yeah, I’ve been . . . I’ve been performing at erm, quite a few concerts to do with Grime4Corbyn, I was doing the London one, like, two weeks back or a week back, and I just did one in Coventry, it was like a voting rally (word or words unclear) so I was trying to get as much young people involved as I can . . .

JH: Right. And Michael, as far as you’re concerned, a quick thought, this will continue do you reckon, or is it just Jeremy Corbyn, he’ll get tired with people . . . young people get tired with him and that’ll be that?

MS: No, I think this is it now, I think young people have realised that politics happens with or without them and they’ve all, they’ve all taken their place at the table and strongly said that we’re no longer going to be on the menu.

JH: Okay, Michael Sani and Skata, thank you both very much.

(Mr Humphrys turns 74 on August 17. He would like some rap music for his birthday – or an invitation to a Jezza rally.)

(Image: YouTube: Centre for Journalism)

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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