‘England football racism row should be a red card for the Tory government’

Labour leader Keir Starmer has always supported the taking of the knee (Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

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It was bound to happen eventually, and thank goodness it has.

An issue would arise to define the yawning chasm between decent Labour and toxic Toryism.

And it’s racism.

Not the open, outrageous variety which was peddled by Peter ­Griffiths, dubbed a ­“parliamentary leper” by Harold Wilson, to win ­Smethwick in the 1960s.

His Conservative workers told voters “If you want an N-word for a neighbour, vote Labour”. ­Griffiths refused to condemn it, calling their words “a manifestation of popular feeling”.

Today, things are different. Griffiths would be locked up, or fined, for conducting a racist campaign. But not different enough. There is still a lingering bad smell around the Tories and this explosive issue. They just can’t let it go.

Boris Johnson refused to condemn fans who booed ­footballers taking the knee in protest at racism in the game.

Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to condemn the booers too, calling their action “a choice for them quite frankly”. She then dismissed the players’ deeply felt anguish as mere “gesture politics”.

The outcry that followed, the dignity of Tyrone Mings’ response, and a heartwarming public reaction to the ­desecration of the Marcus Rashford mural in Manchester, all reveal that the Tories are on the wrong side of a massively important social and political issue.

And Keir Starmer, who has backed “the knee” from the beginning, proves that Labour is on the right side. “Football is a game, racism isn’t,” he declared.

With those few, unequivocal words he exposes the casual Tory attitude to racism, and the emptiness of their protestations of innocence. This issue defines politics in the 21st century. Starmer is on the right side of history, and this could be his oomph moment.

Meanwhile, the blue crew still echo the prejudices of Peter Griffiths.

Well, I'll bee damned

It may have escaped your notice, but this has been Bees’ Needs Week in Bradford. Quite a buzz, I imagine.

I also hear of a little-known scandal – international bee-rustling, currently creating havoc in our hives.

Bees are smuggled from continental Europe to Ulster via the Irish Republic and then legally taken over the notional sea border into Britain.

Bees are being smuggled
(Image: Getty Images)

Packages bring in a devastating pest, the small hive beetle, that multiplies in huge numbers and eats brood, honey and pollen. I could joke that this is the biggest sting in criminal history (sorry, I just did) but it’s an existential threat to our native pollinators.

The British Beekeeping Association has launched a petition demanding MPs close the loophole allowing this lethal trade. You can sign at parliament.uk/petitions. I have.

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Bognor is on the travel green list but Margate is red, Bridlington is amber and Bournemouth is on the green watch-list. For now.

That sounds about right, but I might be confusing them with Singapore, the Maldives, Belgium and Barbados respectively.

Or maybe I’m hearing glib, complacent Transport Secretary Grant Shapps talk through his mask-hole. Again.

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David Cameron was paid £29,000 a day for 25 days to 'advise' Greensill Capital
(Image: Getty Images)

David Cameron was paid £29,000 a day for 25 days to “advise” financiers Greensill Capital. He failed to save the Oz company from collapse, despite secretly lobbying his pal Chancellor Rishi Sunak for cheap state loans.

A snoutsman for the unlamented ex-prime minister declined to comment on this latest money trough.

You bet he did.

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