Back in October 2002 Rod Liddle lost his job as editor of the BBC R4 Today program over a Guardian article he wrote about the Countryside Alliance 'Liberty & Livelihood' march. At the time several hundred thousand of us felt not a little put upon by pompous, demonising politicians and Rod's piece was like a red rag to a bull. In our eyes it confirmed 'BBC bias' and reinforced the bigoted self-righteousness of the MP's clamouring for a hunting ban.
Looking back at the article it does now seem rather tame considering the furore it caused. I guess that's because we have since become accustomed to the acerbic wit in his regular Spectator column. In fact I don't mind admitting that his column has become one of my 'must reads'. In spite of the insult felt back then I can see that his take on pretty well any controversial issue is consistent - and usually tells an uncompfortable and on-the-button home truth or two.
If I'm honest, that was arguably the case with the offending Guardian article too. It was just that the steriotypical caricatures it drew - though severely dated - were, and remain, the principle supporting motivation for the Hunting Act 2004 and to that extent he assisted the gross injustice of its passing into law.
However, his latest Spectator piece does go some way to redeeming him. Not exactly a 'mea-culpa' but nonetheless laser accurate and aimed at the really deserving ones this time. It concerns the latest wheeze of our Constitutional Affairs Minister, Harriet Harmen wanting laws to be drafted in something called 'Plain English'. In that spirit he suggests a revised 'plain English' wording for the Hunting Act 2004 as follows:
Sums up both the spirit and real intent of the Act rather well doesn't it?
‘It is against the law to take pleasure from killing foxes. You can shoot them or club them or kick them to death, or hang them up by their ears until they die of starvation. You can even get dogs to savage them, so long as it is not part of an agreeable social ritual which brings together rich, right-wing landowners and the forelock-tugging lickspittle rural morass of peasants and impecunious villagers. Wearing stupid clothes and parping on horns and so on. Also, you toffs, stop harassing mink, deer and hares. We’ll get back to you later on badgers. All that being said, there will be no attempt whatsoever to enforce this legislation.’
Nice one Rod. I like it.