Members threaten to quit Arts Club after Michael Gove given free membership, Telegraph’s hypocrisy on Islamophobia exposed, and how the BBC’s Chris Morris is ‘trying’ to make colleagues aware that public opinion on Brexit has shifted.
There are rumblings of discontent at the Arts Club in Mayfair over its decision to grant honorary membership to the Brextremist cabinet minister Michael Gove and his wife Sarah Vine, the shouty Daily Mail columnist.
‘The club stands for everything Brexit is against and this puts out an appalling message about all of us,’ one veteran member tells Mandrake. ‘I shall certainly be quitting if this is allowed to stand.’
The club, part-owned by the actress Gwyneth Paltrow decided to waive the £2,000 joining fee and the first £2,000-a-year annual subscription for the wealthy couple – worth a total of £8,000 – and in perpetuity.
The Apprentice host Sir Alan Sugar, who sits on the club’s advisory board, is unlikely to want to stand them a round of drinks at the bar. He has said that Gove should be imprisoned for the ‘lies’ he told during the EU referendum campaign.
Vine had certainly better mind her ps and qs at the club where the rules expressly forbid ‘bad language’. I disclosed how she had used the word ‘c***’ in a speech at a party hosted by the former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre at the Garrick club just before Christmas.
The arts world and Brexit have already proved to be an unhappy mix. There was dismay among supporters of the Womad music festival when I reported last year that the Earl of Suffolk – who presides over its venue Charlton Park in Wiltshire – had decided to go into business with Jacob Rees-Mogg.
‘The attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand was an act of savagery – proof that the Islamophobic far-Right is as malevolent and detestable as the radical Islamists it professes to hate,’ the Daily Telegraph pronounced in its editorial on Saturday.
One wonders if the paper has any right to say that after running pieces with incendiary headlines such as ‘Indulgence of Islam is harming society’ and ‘Islamism is an attack on our civilisation’.
The former piece was written by Damian Thompson, who was recently revealed to have met with Steve Bannon and who secured a job for the hard-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos on the Telegraph. Thompson no longer writes for the paper.
The latter piece was by Charles Moore. He landed the BBC with libel damages in 2009 for comments on Question Time about the then leader of the Muslim Council of Britain. More recently, Muslim organisations called for him to be sacked after he asked in a column if the Prophet Muhammad was a ‘paedophile’. Disturbingly, Moore still writes for the paper.
Media House, the PR outfit Nigel Farage employed to drum up support for his ‘Brexit betrayal’ march that begun in Sunderland over the weekend, was putting a brave face on the less than epic turnout.
‘We’re very happy with the response,’ Media House’s Christopher Carter assured Mandrake, stoically.
Among the clients the PR company boasts about on its website are BBC Alba, Autism Rocks and the 2017 European ITF Taekwon-Do Championships. So far, Media House has chosen not to list Farage’s Leave Means Leave among them.
Jim Chisholm compiled an analysis of the opinion polls that have been conducted on Brexit since the referendum which convincingly proved that a clear majority is now in favour of staying in.
Gina Miller, whose endthechaos! website put up the report, was invited on to BBC Radio 4’s Today show on Friday to discuss, among other things, its findings. In a rushed interview, Nick Robinson talked over her when she attempted to raise it and then put her on hold only to come back to ask if she would be interested in succeeding Sir Vince Cable as leader of the Lib Dems.
Miller was not amused. ‘Why does Today not want to discuss the way public opinion is clearly shifting?’ she asks.
Sarah Sands, Today’s editordid not take kindly to a speech Miller delivered at the Charles Wheeler Awards last year when she had rhetorically asked if all the journalists on the show were ‘confident’ they were giving all sides in the Brexit debate.
Tellingly, Chris Morris, the BBC’s ‘reality check’ correspondent, did not dispute Chisholm’s findings when he drew his attention to them. ‘I’m aware of the shifting opinion and will try to make others aware, too,’ Morris had candidly replied.