The recent furore over Gary Lineker’s tweet that has ignited a firestorm on the political right [and to a lesser degree on the left] after he suggested on Tuesday that the British home secretary, Suella Braverman, was using language reminiscent of 1930s Germany to promote a plan to stop asylum seekers who arrive on boats across the English Channel.
The right predictably attacked him for using his “celebrity status” to promote woke ideas with over 36 Tory supported by some Labour MPs demanding he be axed from the BBC. The BBC reacted by dropping him from their flagship football programme Match of the Day. This led to other co presenters and pundits as well as commentators refusing to take part or “fill in” for him. The final straw came when numerous football players asked the Professional Footballers Association [PFA – Footballer Union] for advice on boycotting the BBC’s coverage and got the go-ahead leading to Football Focus and Final Score being cancelled while Match of the Day will show matches using Sky TVs coverage only.
Meanwhile some on the left have criticised Lineker for his wealth and being critical of Corbyn.
So why should we care much less support the BBC boycott?
Firstly, we must understand that football is a sport supported by a mass of working-class people and even though football is now a game of money and corruption at the highest levels it still commands massive loyalty amongst the working class and to dismiss it is to dismiss the working class, something that happens far too often on the left. We need to engage with the working class and for class struggle revolutionists this is of crucial importance because many on the left will dismiss it as it doesn’t fit their nice little boxes of how you should oppose the government/state. Until we do this we will always be a fringe movement. We have a much harder fight in the UK because the so-called leaders of our class are reformers and traitors whether politicians, union leaders or the left as a whole.
It is also important because for the past couple of years (here in UK) there has been a concerted effort to say anyone with human decency is “woke/snowflake” and an agenda is being pushed to try and turn people against this. To most people the BBC was still the independent mouth of the media, a paragon of “democracy”, after all It’s “our BBC”… they’d never lie to us!
Only a few days ago The BBC has decided not to broadcast an episode of Sir David Attenborough’s flagship new series on British wildlife because of fears its themes of the destruction of nature would risk a backlash from Tory politicians and the right-wing press, the recent events shows that not only is the BBC not impartial but a state run broadcasting company but also how craven the they are, even more than the Lineker furore it shows that the BBC aren’t ‘neutral’ and on climate change they’re actively trying to down play the climate catastrophe.
What is happening now is a reaction to the “anti-woke” rhetoric put out there by the press/political parties etc and the general shift to the right that is taking the form around this.
This is why it matters. It is also about how the state and media are sanctioning anyone who says anything that doesn’t fit their agenda while supporting those government fawners like Fiona Bruce as she defends domestic violence – when she described Stanley Johnson’s assault on his wife where he broke her nose as a “one-off”. Despite condemnation from domestic violence charities and organisations the BBC defended her saying she was not expressing her personal views.
In the end this is not a football story. This is not a Gary Lineker story. This is a story about the government thinking it can silence criticism of its sickeningly inhumane policy of making applying for asylum essentially illegal. It is about the government using language that dehumanises and vilifies vulnerable people in desperate situations. Lineker called that out. The government objected. The BBC – fresh on the heels of censoring a David Attenborough programme for fear of government objections – behaved in a way that only amplified the point Lineker was making.
What Lineker said was important but no more important than what Joan Salter an 83-year holocaust survivor said in January when she confronted Braverman over the governments inhumane immigration policies.
“The Holocaust began in a country where Jews and non-Jews had lived together in peace for generations. The small Jewish population – less than 1% – was so integrated into German culture that the majority looked upon themselves as Germans, with a variety of degrees of adherence to Jewish culture and traditions. So how did this relative harmony turn to hatred in such a short period of time? Through the use of language. The language of hate and division.
This was the method used by the Nazis to turn ordinary people, who went home each night to their wives and children, into the monsters capable of marching millions of Jews and other minorities – people just like them – into the gas chambers. It is what enabled ordinary soldiers to return to their wives and children, satisfied that they were protecting their country from social problems caused by people whom their government had convinced them were less than human”.
The government and the BBC want this to be a “Lineker furore”. It isn’t. It’s a callous and inhuman government furore.
We must take heart from the solidarity of the football community over this and build upon its foundation.