When the legendary George Carmen QC worked his magic and managed to get Ken Dodd cleared of tax evasion in 1989 it was said a turning point in the trial was when Mr Carmen, establishing the defence that Mr Dodd didn’t control the details of his finances – that was a job for his accountant – summed it up by saying “Some accountants are comedians, but comedians are never accountants”. Today Mr Gove proved that politicians are not comedians with his incredibly crass, ill-judged and frankly offensive “joke” on the Today Programme, comparing being interviewed by John Humphrys with going to Harvey Weinstein’s bedroom.
Even as I type that I wince. Let us be clear. He thought this was a witty, off the cuff remark to raise a smile from the assembled – mostly white, middle class audience – if you don’t believe me, check out the photos. He thought that like him they would see the funny side of a problem faced by people not like them. He thought he was being clever. He thought it was ok to joke about allegations of rape, sexual assault and abuse of power.
Of course, Mr Gove – the Gover as Boris Johnson used to call him before his pal ended his leadership bid in 2016 with a brutality rarely seen since Shakepears’s time – has form. He has been crass and offensive before and had a liberal relationship with the truth during the EU referendum campaign. Just because he is articulate – which he is – doesn’t make today’s remarks any less offensive. In fact, it makes them more so. He should know better.
I am going to put today’s ugliness down to getting carried away – forgetting that he wasn’t a comedian. Forgetting himself. I do that because to assume otherwise; to assume that he thinks rape is funny would be too awful to contemplate. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt on this point but I suggest he stops trying to be a smart arse and use his undoubtably abilities for some good. He was successful in convincing people going the EU referendum to vote against their interests and the country’s in voting ‘leave’; I hope he can now be successfully at convincing folk that he doesn’t fancy a stint at the Comedy Store and that he is a serious politician. Otherwise he is just an arse. And an offensive one at that.
Photo taken from BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41787710