What Jim Davidson’s latest comments tell us about Brexiteers’ attitudes.
Towards the end of his troubled life, the comic genius born Leonard Alfred Schneider would end his routines with the words “I’m not a comedian, I’m Lenny Bruce”. What a welcome clarification it would be if Jim Davidson were to adopt the first half of this for his own closer.
Instead, according to one onlooker, this is how the 1976 New Faces winner ended his performance in Hunstanton, Norfolk, on August 24: “Pay the EU £39 billion? No thanks. We’ve paid. Paid in blood on the Flanders field. And on the beaches of Dunkirk. Let’s take our country back.”
Not quite “Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you”, is it? The same onlooker may have viewed Jim’s mini-rant as the perfect capper to a night of “visceral laughter” from a man “not constrained by the PC police”, but as the stand-ups say, I wouldn’t open with it. Or, for that matter, close with it.
It would be easy to fill the rest of this column with a long list of why Jim Davidson is generally dislikeable, from the racist ‘Chalky White’ character with which he made his name (“daylight come and I gotta sign on”) through his remarks on emigrating in 2004 (“I may as well go to Dubai and be an ethnic minority there than wait five years ’til I become one here”) to his worryingly well-informed attack on the woman who accused Donald Trump of infidelity (“Why would anyone believe this porn star Stormy Daniels? She shows her arsehole on the internet for money”).
Instead, what struck me most about Nick-Nick Jim’s big finish was how much it recalled similarly grim stuff being spouted by similarly grim people.
On Twitter, cuddly Arron Banks scoffed that even the worst of Operation Yellowhammer would be nothing on Dunkirk: “We managed to arrange the evacuation of 100,000’s troops from a beach in France using thousands of small craft, under massive military pressure, in a few days but we can’t fill in a few new forms in 2019.”
In the Sun, the latest bonkers column from Trevor Kavanagh was illustrated by a cartoon of Boris Johnson as a First World War soldier being invited to go first over the top by a treacherous Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.
In the Express, the veteran author Frederick Forsyth noted: “I was raised to admire the lads who flew Spitfires and Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain, went up the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, set all Europe free from Nazism, fought off the threat of world communism, gave sovereign independence to a vast empire and parliamentary democracy to the world…. And honestly, I never thought that at the age of 80 I would see a day when this same country could produce such a phalanx of cowards, appeasers and capitulators in high places.”
In the Telegraph, Charles Moore was taking time off from criticising Olivia Colman’s “left-wing face” by comparing Boris Johnson’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings to the wartime “lock-pickers, safe-breakers and forgers (let) out of prison so they could go and work for SOE (the Special Operations Executive, a forerunner of MI6).” He added: “Mr Cummings has just such disreputable talents and we need them at once.”
And, following from The New European summer special wordsearch which parodied his love of world war-speak, little Mark Francois popped up on TalkRadio to claim that any Remainer-led ‘Government of National Unity’ would in reality be “a Vichy style regime” with “Jeremy Corbyn doddering around as an old Marshal Pétain character, not knowing what’s going on around him”.
It all does very little to dispel the thoughts of Peter Ammon, former German ambassador to the UK, when he told the Guardian: “If you focus only on how Britain stood alone in the war, how it stood against dominating Germany, it is a nice story, but does not solve any problem of today.”
For this Ammon was pilloried by the Sun (“Sneering German ambassador says Brexiteers are obsessed by WWII legacy”) and accused of “talking a load of rubbish” by well-known expert on rubbish-talking, Peter Bone MP. How he is vindicated now by the words of Davidson et al.
As we head towards the beginning of the end of Brexit – or, as Francois would no doubt say, the end of the beginning – Leavers argue about changing the language of the 2018 Withdrawal Agreement while their own language remains unchanged since 1945.
As a means of finally moving on, perhaps there should be a new version of Just A Minute where Brexiteers are invited to speak for 60 seconds without hesitation, repetition, deviation or any mention of occupation, collaboration and reparations.
You could call it Ein Minute, Bitte. Or, to borrow a comic phrase Jim Davidson might want to acquaint himself with, Don’t Mention The War.
BREXITEERS OF THE WEEK
4 THE SUNDAY EXPRESS
“UK-US Trade Deal Is Done” trumpeted the paper’s front page on August 25, with an exclusive by David Maddox, Marco Giannangeli and Macer Hall announcing “the two countries are on the verge of a major deal” which would be signed in October.
Alas for the trio, the scoop lasted only a few hours before being quickly shot down by none other than Boris Johnson, who revealed that any major deal would take months and “to do it all within a year is going to be tight”. That’s not even taking into consideration warnings from US Democrats, who are promising to block any trade deal with a no-deal Britain which puts peace in Ireland at risk.
The Sunday Express had a paid circulation of 267,268 copies in July 2019, down a whacking 106,507 (28.4%) since the month of the referendum, July 2016.
3 DARREN SELKUS
The Brexit Party candidate for Epping Forest has been censured for breaking Twitter rules over a video titled “What do you do with traitors?” In it he revealed that “rebels plotting to stop the result of the referendum” had inspired him to take his kids “down to the Tower of London and show them how the UK used to deal with traitors committing treason”.
Selkus later issued a completely genuine-sounding clarification, explaining: “I was not proposing such draconian measures for those who cross the channel and request the EU to make life as hard as possible for the UK so they can overturn the biggest popular vote in their history.”
Darren recently told his local paper: “I have no experience in politics but I’m hungry to learn.” In which case his first lesson should be: better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
2 BREXIT CLUB
The Brexit Party have launched yet another money-making scheme – Brexit Club. Now, in addition to becoming a registered supporter (£25 annually) and making a donation (up to £500 a time), the party’s website is inviting Leavers to stump up £100 per month to join an exclusive band of Brexiteers.
And what do you get for your £1,200 a year (incidentally, around 10 times what it costs us per person to be in the EU)? The package includes “VIP access to conferences and rallies, invitations to exclusive party events, a bespoke Brexit Club welcome gift and a quarterly letter from the chairman’s desk”. Blimey, for that sort of dough you’d expect a quarterly letter from the chairman himself – although both are equally wooden.
But, as @JohnnyPixels suggested on Twitter, to be truly authentic “you should be able to request the full benefits of being a member without paying any of the fees”. And doesn’t this publicity for Brexit Club suggest they’ve forgotten the first rule of Brexit Club?
1 JAY ASTON
Now known as Jay Aston Colquhoun, the former singer from Bucks Fizz’s ‘classic’ lineup is running for the Brexit Party in Labour-held Kensington at the next general election.
All of which has brought plenty of jokes about living in The Land Of Make Believe and Making Your Mind Up. But there’s no word yet on whether Jay became a Brexiteer because when she went to Europe for the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, they took away 50% of her skirt in taxation.
In an echo of Nigel Farage’s career, Jay currently performs in breakaway group The Fizz alongside fellow original members Cheryl Baker and Mike Nolan, while Bobby G remains in a continuity Bucks Fizz with Gerard Batten, Dick Braine and Mike Hookem (apologies – it’s actually Bobby, Heidi Manton, Paul Yates and Tammi Choat).