On BBC Radio 5 Live, I have occasionally caught a Saturday morning programme called Fighting Talk.
It’s a smart, jokey, sports-related quiz, involving a group of specialist pundits who are presented with questions, which I don’t understand.
They then reply with answers that I don’t understand. In fact, there’s little in this show I do understand.
You may fairly ask why on earth do I listen to it?
I don’t really. It’s one of those programmes you hear a snatch of as you’re flicking buttons on the car radio whilst stuck in a traffic jam. And then you go back to it when you’ve exhausted the choice.
The final round in Fighting Talk is ‘Defend the Indefensible’. It’s a play-off between the two leading pundits doing battle to be that week’s champion.
Each of them is given an outrageous premise, which they have to defend.
Off the top of my head, let me give you a couple of examples. These are my own, I add hastily, I didn’t hear them on the programme:
“Hitler was basically misunderstood.” Or: “Julian Assange is the perfect house guest.”
The pundits then argue the merits of their respective statements.
They have to defend the indefensible.
This week we have had to witness unedifying displays of hypocrisy as we watched Members of the Government play ‘Defend the Indefensible’.
Possibly there were extenuating circumstances regarding Dominic Cummings’ curious decision to travel ‘oop North, that we are not privy to. Who knows?
Nevertheless, his interpretation of the early Stay At Home lockdown rules was convenient to say the least.
Also convenient, was that as the Prime Minister’s chief advisor, he presumably had a major hand in drafting the lockdown rules. So he must be right when he says he has nothing to apologise for.
One can hardly argue with The Puppet Master?
As we listened to the likes of Michael Gove or Robert Jenrick or Grant Shaps or some other government mouthpiece defend the indefensible, one didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or just throw up, as each one looked straight into the camera and with weasel words and all the sincerity they could muster, defended the Dominic Cummings ill-judged family trip to Durham.
It was a close-run contest. Who would end up wearing the ‘Defend the Indefensible’ crown? Messrs. Jenrick and Gove were easily the two front-runners.
The favourite would appear to be Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
He was in excellent form, following his own bending of the lockdown rules a few weeks ago.
If you remember, it was Mr. Jenrick, who flouted lockdown rules when he travelled from his ‘second home’ in London and drove 150 miles to his ’primary home’ in Herefordshire to be with his family.
A bit rich when you’ve been on television in a ministerial capacity, urging the public to save lives by remaining in their properties even if tempted to see loved ones.
A bit richer still, to claim that his Herefordshire property is his primary home when his three children go to school in London and his wife works at Canary Wharf.
Mr Jenrick is still in office, he didn’t have to resign. Who better to argue the case for Mr. Cummings.
Mr. Gove made a platitudinous fist of defending Svengali’s Durham trip, coming out with:
“What’s clear is that he didn’t break the law…” Really?
“He didn’t break the rules…” Hmm!
“He sought to protect his family…” Bless Dom. He’s a saint.
Gove was a bit lame one has to say, it was all over bar the shouting. Surely, Jenrick had the Defend the Indefensible title in his grasp?
But no. Mr. Gove came up on the inside with an outrageous, unbelievable defense of the ‘sight-testing’ 60 mile round (birthday) trip to Barnard Castle.
This classic Michael Gove drivel truly took one’s breath away. A sycophantic masterstroke, typical of the man, handed Mr Gove the ‘Defend the Indefensible’ title.
There was, happily, a consolation prize for Mr. Jenrick:
The Runner’s-Up Brass Neck Award.
But perhaps Robert Jenrick, in true toady fashion, should consider passing his award to someone more worthy?
When the Prime Minister pronounces that the Dominic Cummings matter is now closed, he has ‘drawn a line under it’, nobody is showing more brass neck than he.
You may have drawn a line under it, Mr. Johnson – but have we?
Remember who pays your wages…