The ever-defiant Gary Lineker has promised to continue to speak up for the voiceless on Twitter after being criticised by many, including the government, for comparing its use of language to that of 1930s Germany in reference to government policies on illegal immigration. The BBC has said it will have a “frank conversation” with him.
On Wednesday Downing Street entered the row, with the prime minisister’s press secretary informing reporters that Lineker’s remark was “not acceptable”, adding: “It’s obviously disappointing to see someone whose salary is funded by hard-working British [licence fee] payers using that kind of rhetoric and seemingly dismissing their legitimate concerns that they have about small boats crossings and illegal migration. But beyond that, it’s up to the BBC, who I think have said today that they’ll be having a conversation with Gary Lineker, and it’s not for me to comment further.”
Gary Lineker speaks out on government immigration policy
The whole episode started with Lineker’s response to Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s video message about stopping the small boat crossings. He commented, “Good heavens, this is beyond awful”.
It was Lineker’s further reply which caused all of the controversy:
“There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”
But of course, many like Bredan May were quick to call the BBC out on their intention to speak to Lineker. Earlier the same day, the UN Refugee Agency(UNHCR), stated that:
“This would be a clear breach of the Refugee Convention and would undermine a long-standing, humanitarian tradition of which the British people are rightly proud. We urge the government, and all MPs and peers, to reconsider the bill and instead pursue more humane and practical policy solutions.”
Yet this wasn’t mentioned on BBC News at Ten that night.
Why did BBC News fail to report this? Did it just not fit in with their current narrative? A narrative that feels more and more akin to that of GB News.
Accusations of hypocrisy
Certainly there is a smell of hypocrisy in the air, with Emily Maitlis, the former Newsnight presenter tweeting: “Curious that @GaryLineker was free to raise questions about Qatar’s human rights record – with the blessing of the BBC – over the World Cup, but cannot raise questions of human rights in this country if it involves criticism of government policy …”
Marina Purkiss also tweeted:
“So … It is not ok for Gary Lineker to be actively anti-government
But it is ok for the BBC Chairman and the BBC Director General to be actively pro-government
Because, as far as I’m aware, our license fees pay the wages of all of these people…”
There are many questions surrounding the appointment of the BBC chairman. It is reported that Richard Sharp facilitated an £800,000 loan to the then prime minister Boris Johnson. As Josiah Mortimer reported in Byline Times, Sharp donated via his personal charity to the Institute for Policy Research, an organisation “that funds right-wing organisations in the UK – several of which back the privatisation of the BBC”. Those right-wing organisations include the Tax Payer’s Alliance, Eurosceptics and the BBC-bashing News-Watch group. This calls into question the impartiality of the chairman.
Language not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s
So at this point, some might argue that it is only leftie do-gooders opposing the government’s plans. However, this is not the case. Recently Joan Salter, a Holocaust survivor, confronted Braverman about the consequences of the language she uses.
“When I hear you using words against refugees like “swarms” and an “invasion”, I am reminded of the language used to dehumanise and justify the murder of my family and millions of others. Why do you find the need to use that kind of language?”
“I won’t apologise for the language that I have used to demonstrate the scale of the problem. We mustn’t shy away from saying there is a problem. I will not shy away from saying there is a problem with people with people exploiting our generosity, breaking our laws and undermining our system.”
We might question who is breaking the laws and conventions set up after the horror of WWII, but that is a whole other article.
Alf Dubs (now Baron Dubs) thanked Lineker with the following tweet.
Dubs was one of the 669 mainly Jewish Czechoslovakian children saved by British stockbroker Nicholas Winton and others from the Nazis on the Kindertransportsystem running in 1939. His remarkable work is best summed up by one of the most touching pieces of television I have ever seen, when in 1988 Winton was featured on Esther Rantzen’s TV programme That’s Life. If you have never seen this, it’s a must-watch.
Widespread support for Lineker
Lineker has tweeted that “I have never known such love and support in my life than I’m getting this morning (England World Cup goals aside, possibly). I want to thank each and every one of you. It means a lot. I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice. Cheers all.”
We salute you, Gary, for not remaining silent. Many stayed quiet in the 1930s and look at what happened. This is the time to speak up against the policies of this government and those that remain silent on holding them to account, including the likes of the BBC.
With so much of our press being run by offshore billionaires with no interest in what is best for our nation and a BBC run by someone so apparently embedded into the Conservative Party, I would plead with you to help our citizen journalism publication. We are so lucky to have a voice and this is one of the reasons I got involved, but they do need a little help from us all to deliver that powerful voice.
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