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October 25, 2006

Alan Duncan and Have I Got News for You?: Cheap jokes about dead British soldiers and the Conservative MP who said nothing

Posted by Alex Deane

Last week's episode of Have I Got News For You? was chaired by Alistair McGowan.

In the course of the show, a headline was produced which paraphrased the view of General Richard Dannatt:

British soldiers should walk away from Iraq.
McGowan said,
I suppose the lucky ones will.

I took this to be a cheap and unpleasant joke about the deaths of British soldiers serving their country. I thought it revolting. But I wasn't surprised. One expects little more from the BBC. So typical was this bit of spite, in fact, that I would have thought little more about it. However, as luck would have it, one of the panellists was a Conservative Member of Parliament. He shan't let that go by, I thought.

Yet Alan Duncan said nothing.

I do my best to be slow to judge in such matters. All manner of editing tricks may have been played with this footage. Perhaps Duncan did say something. Perhaps the "joke" has been inserted. Perhaps Duncan didn't hear it.

But if, as it appeared in the broadcast, a Conservative Member of Parliament did nothing but smirk as a comedian made fun of British soldiers dying… what is it the Conservative Party offers exactly?

Alex Deane is a Barrister and is the former Chief of Staff to both Tim Collins and David Cameron MP.

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Well what would one expect? The BBC is a rancid organization that hates this country and hates its people. It is, to use its own silly language "institutionally biased" and admits so in private:

Here are these troops with a thankless task trying to bring democracy to a place that doesn't want it and trying to keep factions apart whose only aim in life is kill and oppress each other. And this "comedian" thinks it funny that some will die doing this. I used to think that the two Johns had corrupted McGowan, but really he's no better than they, and a man of his age must take responsibilty for himself.

Posted by: Mike at October 25, 2006 06:20 PM

Alan Duncan's "performance" is about what we have come to expect from him. Giggling, trying to ingratiate himself with important celebrities, trying too hard to be hip etc etc

Posted by: Older But Wiser at October 26, 2006 09:35 AM

And what exactly should Alan Duncan have said?

He was in a hopeless situation. Damed if he'd said anything, which would no doubt have been blown out of proportion and twisted mercilessly.

As it happens, he said nothing, and in a way, has avoided controversy, given that Alan Duncan is not now in the news.

I did not see the said programme - I've long since abandoned the degenarate BBC. The BBC's agenda quite clearly to undermine all that is decent about British society and it is succeeding alarmingly! Would a Conservative Government have the spine do something about the BBC should it ever again win power?

The pertinent question of course is what was Alan Duncan doing on such a juvenile programme in the first place?

Posted by: AdeOluOla at October 26, 2006 01:53 PM

I'm afraid the joke "I suppose the lucky ones will" is the kind of snotty-poo imitation of "Beyond the Fringe" which has become endemic in the followers of the BBC. But in regard to the Iraq war, not only the Beeb is culpable in this regard. On Channel 4, Bremner, Bird and Fortune came out with the same sort of stuff. And because it was all consistently lefty, it thereby lost credit, because there was also conservative opposition to the war. These comics, and also politicians who would be against Americans even if they only wanted to stroke your cat, elicit the response "but they would say that". Thereby they considerably weakened the case.

So also was the intervention of "Chiraq". He delayed a plan put forward by the the German foreign minister that would have tied up the Saddam regime in knots and killed it by slow strangulation. Ostensibly pour la Gloire de France but also, it seems, so he could appear the good guy after Bush and the Baddies went berserk.

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at October 28, 2006 12:52 PM

I wouldn't take lessons from Alex Deane on inappropriate humour. This is the man that compared rape victims to sluts in front of a packed Oxford Union chamber, after all.

Posted by: James at October 29, 2006 03:19 PM


No I didn't.

I said that subjective (as opposed to objective) standards for rape (i.e. the topic of debate) were increasingly difficult to impose on a society in whcih standards of dress were wildly different depending on what one's views of what's appropriate are. And then I made a joke about some girls at the tournament who were wearing very short skirts.

It was pretty poorly chosen stuff. But it was nothing like what you've said. And I know that what you've said is the version that unpleasant people of the left peddle. The fact that you have said Oxford, when the debate happened at Cambridge, suggests that you're going by a gossip version rather than having been there yourself.

I also question the worthiness of putting university debating comments to people years later. One adopts plenty of positions one completely disagrees with in debates, in addition to the times one chooses one's words poorly.

I tried to respond to this post privately as there's a chance that this comment was left in ignorance rather than maliciously but the email address is false. I have no idea who "James" is, if indeed he exists. But as a matter of fact I've got a pretty good idea who "James" actually is. And I think it's pretty pitiful.


Posted by: Alex Deane at October 29, 2006 04:40 PM

If my previous comment reads very defensively, that's because it's how I feel.

I should make it clear that I knew what I'd said that night was poorly chosen - that's why I apologised to the individuals concerned, that night. It also cost me (and more importantly, my erstwhile debating partner) a title that we should otherwise have won.

The parallel - between a Conservative MP's comment (or non-comment) on national TV, and something crude I said whilst a student about individuals, and apologised for immediately, doesn't exist. Which "James" would realise, had he actually been there.

Posted by: Alex Deane at October 29, 2006 04:59 PM
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