I hadn’t planned to snark or irritate anyone, or even to write this blog, but here I am in serious danger of doing all three... OK, I’m definitely going to do two of the three. Am I going to irritate someone? Well, that rather depends on whether any of you happen to be fans of a footballer called Joey Barton.
I’m not a football fan.
I sometimes watch the closing stages of the World Cup when it comes around. I like to watch people doing what they’re good at and doing it well. For that reason, despite not being much of a sports fan, I will, from time to time, watch the Olympics or Wimbledon or the aforementioned World Cup.
I have no idea whether Joey Barton was ever that calibre of footballer. I guess I won’t be finding out any time soon.
I’ve been working a lot recently. It’s my job. When the work is there, I do it, and, of late, there’s been a good deal of work to do. I’ve been asked to do jobs. This is sort of new and very nice. Most writers in my position have to pitch and compete for jobs, so to be asked is extremely flattering, and who’s going to turn that gig down? Certainly not me.
So, I’ve been working a lot. That’s why, at four o’clock yesterday afternoon, I sat down to read Saturday’s Guardian.
It was the very first chance I'd had in a while to look at a newspaper and I thought it was probably time to catch up with whatever might have been happening in the World in my absence.
Joey Barton is what’s been happening in the World.
OK, so it’s really not that big a deal... unless, that is, you happen to think that misogyny is unpleasant and unnecessary. I do happen to think that.
|The Question Time panel with (L-R)
Piers Morgan, Louise Bours MEP, David Willetts MP,
David Dimbleby (the host), Margaret Curran MP
and Joey Barton footballer
You can see Question Time here
Joey Barton, and let’s not forget that this man plays football for what I imagine is probably a pretty decent living... Joey Barton was a guest on Question Time.
Question Time, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a current affairs program, which invites guests to answer questions from a live studio audience about... well... current affairs. Guests on the show often include politicians and public figures. Sometimes those people might include academics, entrepreneurs, scientists... people of note. Last Thursday’s program included Joey Barton, footballer: footballer famous for his bad temper and for his reputation for fouling on the pitch (by which I mean attacking the ball and the players, not for... you know... fouling).
The Question Time panel was asked a question about the recent local and European elections, and Joey Barton answered it by saying that choosing between the parties was like making a choice “between four really ugly girls”.
That’s right... I’m not making this stuff up... That’s actually what Mr Barton said.
Apparently, and I didn’t see it, I only read about it in the Guardian, there were groans from the audience, and there were the usual protests on the social networks.
Joey Barton responded by saying that it was his first time on Question Time and that he’d been nervous and that what he probably should have said was that UKIP was the “best of a bad bunch”.
Yes, Joey Barton, because that’s much better!
Setting the politics aside, and one of the panellists on Question Time last Thursday night was, in fact, a woman and a UKIPper... But, setting the politics aside, let’s address the other question.
Joey Barton is clearly a misogynist. He obviously judges women on their looks. He’s interested in what women look like, not in the contents of their characters, in their personalities, their achievements, their capacities for love or kindness or for that matter honesty or right-thinking. He could give two hoots for their intellects. Joey Barton thinks that a woman’s value is in her looks.
As far as I'm aware, Joey Barton did not adjust his thinking, nor did he apologise for it. As far as I can tell, he did not, for a moment, acknowledge that it was foolish to think such a thing; he only acknowledged that he thought it was foolish to say it.
Well, honest to goodness, I’m very glad that Joey Barton did say what he said, because I now know how Joey Barton thinks, and I now know what Joey Barton thinks of women. I know where I stand with this footballer. I know the kind of man he is.
OK... Just for fun, let’s go back to the politics.
Joey Barton, misogynist, thinks that UKIP is the best of a bad bunch. That doesn’t surprise me, and I’ll tell you why it doesn’t surprise me. It doesn’t surprise me, because people who fear and loathe one type of person very often fear and loathe another.
It doesn’t surprise me that Joey Barton feels an affinity with UKIP. They claim not to be racists, but they are clearly xenophobic. They don’t like Europeans living among us. If they don’t like Europeans how must they feel about ethnic minorities, or homosexuals or... dare I ask, women?
Louise Bours is a new UKIP MEP and she was on that panel on Question Time last Thursday night. As far as I can tell, she tried to distance herself from Mr Barton. She is quoted as saying, “What an offensive thing to say” when he made his ugly girl remark.
Louise Bours and UKIP can distance themselves all they like.
But here’s the thing: These are the people that UKIP is appealing to. These are the people that voted Louise Bours into office. UKIP is appealing to people who hate and fear. UKIP is appealing to racists and xenophobes and misogynists and homophobes, and many of the people they are appealing to are all of these things. UKIP should be very careful about what they wish for, because they might very well find that’s exactly what they get.