Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on Harry's Meg, Mystic Meg and Lineker's gaffe

A reader accuses me of using the word “woke” because I can't spell “enlytened”, Wot nonsense.

Gary Lineker – profoundly mistaken

You may recall just before Christmas, I predicted that if Meghan and Harry came to the Coronation in June, there would be a nationwide shortage of throwable vegetables including tomatoes. Lo and behold, the Royal duo are now said to be coming to the big event and, sure enough, tomatoes are in short supply. Not even the late, great Mystic Meg saw this one coming.

As for the Sussexes bestowing their daughter with the title “Princess,” it hardly matters constitutionally. Yet it seems strange to accept a royal title for a baby when you've spent that baby's entire life to date rubbishing the royalty and all it stands for. Meanwhile, an internet guide to kids' names suggests anyone could use it as a forename: “Princess is a very pretty name and women named Princess should be happy to have such a beautiful name with a strong, regal meaning.”

Anyway, what's in a title? I am reminded of a jovial old army pal who retired as a major to a pretty little village near Warwick. He styled himself Supreme Commander Land Forces Leek Wootton.

Gary Lineker's real offence was not to wade into politics and condemn the Tories' migration policy, but to diminish the Holocaust. I am one of those who takes the view that he should be able, when he is not actively broadcasting for the BBC, to express a political view. But freedom of speech should always be exercised with sensitivity. Likening the actions of a UK government to the industrialised slaughter of European Jewry was disgustingly insensitive.

Lineker reminded me of those silly, unthinking people who, confronted with any muddy field or garden, announce brightly: “It's like the First Day of the Somme”, overlooking the fact that on July 1, 1916, the Somme battlefield was littered with 20,000 British dead and 40,000 wounded. The six-month battle decimated millions of families and, even today, its victims deserve respect.

Maybe Lineker thinks the 1930s rise of the Nazis is so long ago that his passing reference to it is acceptable. If so, as the reaction has shown, he is profoundly mistaken. Maybe he should fill his off-air hours by giving Twitter a miss and reading a book or two.