BOTH Sir Philip Green and Gary Lineker suffer the indignity of having rotten fruit thrown at them this morning. One of them is more deserving of the smelly honour.
And, yes, it’s the shifty knight with the yacht as long as a street. As for Gary, he should pick up the rotten fruit and throw it back at the Sun newspaper.
Let’s begin with Sir Shifty. MPs were lining up to be rude about the former owner of BHS in the Commons when they voted for his knighthood to be removed. In a two-hour debate they urged that Green should be de-honoured. It was a strange discussion, a little sanctimonious in a sense as everyone present, and not that many were, agreed that Green was a rogue and a scoundrel.
MPs cannot remove a knighthood, as that task falls to the honours forfeiture committee, but the message was given strongly. Sir Philip is likely to wake up a plain mister one morning unless he comes up with a quick donation to cover that massive hole in the BHS pension fund.
I cannot think of a kind word to say about Green, and neither could the assembled MPs, who dismissed him as a “billionaire spiv” among other stinging epithets. Yet it did seem odd for one man’s reputation, such as it is, to be so roundly thrashed without anyone being present to put up a case for the defence.
And weren’t all those MPs being naïve? It was as if they had only just noticed that Green was the worst sort of capitalist and not the Co-op and John Lewis rolled into one generous bundle of caring and sharing.
Tony Blair is blamed for many things nowadays, and not always fairly I’d say, but what was he thinking when he honoured Philip Green with a knighthood for services to retail? That really was one misguided ennoblement. Bair should have left Green to carry on being the worst sort of grubby capitalist without doing him such a thoroughly undeserved honour.
But Green was knighted and snatching that honour back probably feels like the only punishment MPs can suggest. Perhaps we should just be a lot more careful about who with give knighthoods to. Why in God’s name, or Tony Blair’s, does anyone need to be knighted in the first place? It’s all a nonsense and sometimes it lands us in this sort of a mess.
Gary Linker was last in the headlines for promising to present Match of the Day wearing only his underpants if Leicester City won the Premier League. They did and he did, too.
Today he is on the front page of the Sun next to the headline: “Out on his ears.” A smaller headline adds further explanation: “Calls for the BBC to fire Lineker as he peddles migrant lies.”
Earlier this week, Lineker tweeted: “The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless.” And good on him for showing sense and compassion amid the acrid flurry of nastiness that greeted the arrival of young migrants to this country.
Yet now Lineker is being paraded on the front page of the Sun because a couple of Tory twerps want him removed. One of those twerps, the MP Alec Shelbrooke, said that Lineker “needs to decide if he’s a political activist or a BBC sports journalist – he can’t be both”.
And there was me foolishly thinking that someone could be a BBC sports journalist and a human being.
I can’t remember a nastier media fuss than this week’s hounding of migrants – well, not since whatever the last nasty media fuss might have been.
Sometimes we should take a long, hard look at ourselves. Do we really want to be a country that greets vulnerable young people with derision and demands that they have their teeth tested? That’s even worse than living in a country that bestows knighthoods on shifty capitalists.