HOW many workers facing a disciplinary charge for alleged assault at work could count on a million-name petition to demand their reinstatement?
How many would receive an unsolicited testimonial from the Prime Minister, calling him a “friend” and “great talent” and suggesting that his own children would be “heartbroken” if a TV show was cancelled?
David Cameron’s desire that Jeremy Clarkson’s precautionary suspension pending investigation could somehow be “sorted out” speaks volumes for those who believe that different rules apply to them and their friends.
The key issue is not how heartbroken Cameron’s children might be now the BBC has finally put its foot down over Clarkson’s objectionable and yobbish behaviour.
Nor is it the number of viewers that Top Gear has or the millions of pounds the BBC gains from its worldwide sales. Everybody should be able to go to work without fearing that some big rich “untouchable” can get tanked up and punch them in the face without consequences.
Clarkson’s relentless record of racist, homophobic and otherwise oafish remarks has been matched by an equally consistently weak-kneed response from BBC management.
Had the BBC top brass put its foot down years ago, it might have convinced Clarkson that he wasn’t above the rules.
It didn’t, allowing this self-styled rebel to abuse people for their race or sexuality, to deride entire cities and nations for not meeting his rigorous standards of acceptability and to pass his comments off as “jokes” or harmless banter.
His employer’s failure to stand up to this privately educated, wealthy, arrogant bully could have reasonably been expected to culminate in throwing his weight about and splitting a workmate’s lip over something as trivial as not having arranged a hot meal to await his pleasure.
Clarkson’s foul-mouthed rant against the BBC in anticipation of his dismissal illustrates that he has learned nothing from this episode.
He still sees himself as the victim and the BBC as in the wrong, which exemplifies double standards that still affect our society.
This multimillionaire finds it amusing to suggest that he might have to sign on at the jobcentre, but he won’t suffer any real hardship as a result of his bully-boy behaviour.
Nevertheless, his dismissal indicates that common decency and fairness have played a role in finally ending his impunity.
ONLY FOOLS RUSH IN
POLICE are said to have launched an investigation into allegations that Ukip MEP Janice Atkinson has fiddled her European Parliament expenses.
Ukip supremo Nigel Farage is obviously embarrassed and has suspended Atkinson as a candidate in May’s general election.
Some anti-Ukip campaigners are cock-a-hoop, pointing to other kippers who have misused their EU gravy train expenses, but a little caution is advisable.
Neither Jack Straw nor Malcolm Rifkind, who were exposed touting themselves for business at £5,000 a day, are Ukip members.
The same goes for the dozens upon dozens of MPs who fiddled their House of Commons expenses and, in the main, got away with simply returning what they had overclaimed.
There are enough political reasons to oppose Ukip on the basis of its fanatically neoliberal and anti-people economic approach.
Too many political and corporate leaders have taken it as their right in recent decades to plunder the public purse.
To pretend that members of Ukip are more inclined than others to do so is shabby opportunism that avoids tackling equally all cases of personal dishonesty in public life.