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Liddle v Maitlis in the Leftie lions’ den


TCW recently reported how Ann Widdecombe successfully had spoken against no-platforming, one line from her winning speech to the Oxford Union being: ‘You succeed by defeating your opponent, not by wishing him away.’ However, various Leftist pundits seemingly prefer to wish away Rod Liddle. David Aaronovitch tweeted on Monday that he had said ‘forget it’ when asked by the BBC to appear alongside Liddle on that evening’s Newsnight – a revelation which prompted MeToo! from the Guardian’s gruesome twosome of Polly Toynbee and Owen Jones.

Newsnight had summoned Liddle to defend his latest book The Great Betrayal, subtitled The true story of Brexit. The BBC eventually managed to fill the adjacent chair with Tom Baldwin, currently Director of Communications for the so-called People’s Vote. Not that the presence of a former adviser to Ed Miliband was necessary: the bien pensant Left already adequately was represented by interviewer Emily Maitlis, who TCW readers recently crowned Most Biased BBC Presenter. 

The recent Annual Report from the BBC enabled us to see Emily’s pay, which for 2018-2019 had risen by around £40K to over £260,000. However, the Beeb’s recent largesse towards one of its favoured daughters was not specifically what Liddle had in mind when he complained of there being ‘17.4million distressed by the betrayal . . . one of the things they are most distressed about is the way the BBC has behaved’.

‘I wonder about the timing of your book,’ Emily had begun, ‘we’re three months away from leaving, probably with the hardest Brexit anyone imagined.’ ‘I know that fear lurks in all Remainers’ hearts,’ Rod pointedly replied, ‘but I don’t think that is what is going to happen.’ Liddle lamented that the government has never been serious about leaving without a deal and he fears that, even under Boris, the threat remains a ‘paper tiger’.

Maitlis suggested that Rod’s anger is disingenuous: ‘You’re delighted because you can get angry about it, that’s your currency, you get everyone up in arms.’ And it soon became apparent that the content of the book and the betrayal of Brexit was secondary to having Rod in the dock to answer the charge of what Emily at one point called his ‘consistent casual racism’.

Asked by Maitlis, ‘Would you describe yourself a racist? Because many see you that way’, Rod’s retorted: ‘No, obviously not. But I am used to going on BBC programmes and being accused of such things . . . Do you have to, at every possible juncture, show the BBC’s grotesque bias?’

That rhetorical question was borne out by the rest of the interview, which included Maitlis’s assertion: ‘When it is so consistent, when it is week after week, the bile you spew up has to be who you are.’

The same might equally be said of most BBC political interviewers. Emily paid particular attention to Rod’s amusing but trenchant take on the inordinate number of postal votes cast in in last month’s Peterborough by-election: ‘My suspicion is that quite a few of those who voted by post in Peterborough, with help from community leaders, may have been people who do not speak English and may well have thought they were ticking a box to choose their favourite vegetable side dish.’ 

Faced with what Maitlis presented as prima facie ‘casual racism’, Rod rallied: ‘It’s not casual racism. It’s about voter fraud in Peterborough which happened particularly amongst the Pakistani community. It was organised by a man Tariq Mahmood who was sent to prison for doing exactly that. So get a grip, Emily.’

And that rebuke to you, Ms Maitlis, is an example of what Rod Liddle meant when he said: ‘I speak what I think is the truth and what I think people like to hear.’

The full ten-minute interview can be viewed below.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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