SARAH VINE: Why does Gary Lineker get lionised – while Fiona Bruce is hung out to dry? 

In UK News


A man compares this country’s democratically elected government to the Third Reich; a woman explains a slightly tricky legal point to an audience on BBC’s Question Time. Can you guess which one is lionised by the Left for being a free-speech hero and which one is condemned for making ‘insensitive and irresponsible’ comments?

Why, it’s the woman who’s condemned, of course. More specifically, Fiona Bruce, who yesterday — just about the same time Gary Lineker was being triumphantly reinstated on Match Of The Day — announced she was stepping back from her role as an ambassador for Refuge after she was accused of trivialising domestic abuse during a discussion about Stanley Johnson.

After panellist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown described him as a ‘wife-beater’, Bruce — who was chairing the show — interjected, explaining to the audience and viewers: ‘Just so everyone knows what this is referring to, Stanley Johnson’s [late ex] wife spoke to a journalist, Tom Bower, and she said that Stanley Johnson had broken her nose and that she’d ended up in hospital as a result.

‘Stanley Johnson has not commented publicly on that,’ she said, adding, ‘friends of his have said it did happen, it was a one-off.’

All she was doing was explaining the context of what Alibhai-Brown had just said. Which, given the legal implications of calling someone a ‘wife-beater’ and the BBC’s impartiality guidelines (remember those?), she was absolutely required to do.

Gary Lineker pictured leaving his house to take his dog for a walk on Monday following his suspension from and then reinstatement to the BBC

Gary Lineker pictured leaving his house to take his dog for a walk on Monday following his suspension from and then reinstatement to the BBC

You might have thought she’d be admired for her calm professionalism in a sticky situation. But no. She was immediately attacked by the Left-wing Blob — including the charity Women’s Aid, who chose to misinterpret what she said as an expression of her own opinion — for ‘defending’ a Tory.

The issue, apparently, was the notion that Stanley Johnson’s actions could have been ‘a one-off’, something that according to Women’s Aid ‘is rarely, if ever’ the case. But Bruce was not suggesting that Johnson was innocent; she was simply stating the other view which, as any journalist knows, is the correct thing to do when the facts of a case are disputed. In other words, doing her job.

But the problem with Bruce is that she doesn’t belong to that powerful old boys’ club, led by Alastair Campbell and Piers Morgan, who rode in behind Lineker to launch a co-ordinated counterattack on anyone (including me) who dared question their man’s behaviour.

Nor is she perceived by the Twitter powers-that-be — i.e. the Left-wing keyboard warriors who now seem to think they run this country on the basis of the number of followers or the amount of Retweets they get — as sufficiently woke or virtue signalling.

The problem with Bruce is that she doesn¿t belong to that powerful old boys' club, led by Alastair Campbell and Piers Morgan, who rode in behind Lineker

The problem with Bruce is that she doesn’t belong to that powerful old boys’ club, led by Alastair Campbell and Piers Morgan, who rode in behind Lineker

She’s just a woman and, worst of all, an educated, opinionated, white, middle-aged woman. And we all know how the angry armies of the professionally offended feel about that sort. Our very existence on the face of this earth is an affront to their delicate sensibilities.

As the writer and critic Victoria Smith puts it in her new book, Hags: The Demonisation Of Middle Aged Women, this is a breed that is not only undervalued (both Lineker and Bruce work for the same organisation, and yet he is paid £1.35 million a year, whereas she gets less than a third of that, £410,000) but also increasingly treated with active disdain.

The issue is that like so many women of her and my generation, Bruce stubbornly refuses just to put up and shut up. Nor does she choose to cast herself as a victim or express herself in the strident tones of the permanently triggered. She just gets on with it.

But that’s not the worst of it. Despite being wise, experienced and rather good at what she does, she’s also modest, polite and a little self-deprecating. She lacks that stonking, cast-iron sense of entitlement that men like Lineker, Morgan and Campbell have, that inherent master-of-the-universe confidence that makes them, like generations of men before them, utterly convinced of their own righteousness.

That’s because ours is the first generation of women to be really allowed to do important, grown-up jobs like presenting Question Time — jobs traditionally reserved for men — as opposed to presenting cookery shows and children’s programmes. And if the men haven’t quite got used to it, neither have we. We’re still not quite sure we have a right to our success, even when — in the case of Bruce — we clearly do.

That’s why her reaction to being criticised for her actions was so different to Lineker’s. He rallied his powerful mates, doubled down, dug in — and won. She immediately apologised — even though she had done nothing wrong — and stepped down.

Bruce is a woman who — like so many — has worked incredibly hard in a male-dominated industry to prove her worth. And who, despite a career spanning years, still gets paid a fraction of her male counterparts.

Lineker is an arrogant, entitled ex-footballer who sits in his ivory tower, insulated by male privilege and issuing lofty pronouncements for his own benefit.

Why does he get to win — and she doesn’t?

Rude Hugh? Sounds typical!

Hugh Grant’s obnoxiousness towards poor Ashley Graham on the beige carpet at the Oscars really doesn’t surprise me.

Of all the people who have ever been really nasty to my face, he stands out, once humiliating me in front of several others (including Rob Brydon, who rather sweetly apologised afterwards on his behalf) at a party.

In my experience, he has a way of making you feel utterly stupid and worthless, and seems to enjoy it. Such a contrast to the handsome, gentlemanly demeanour he presents.

Now it’s Unloved Island

One excellent piece of news: Love Island has lost its lustre. Following ITV’s decision to make it a biannual event, this season — which has just ended — pulled in disappointing viewing figures.

Even my daughter, who used to be an avid fan, has lost interest. It doesn’t help that all the contestants look practically identical, having had the same plastic surgeries.

Who knows, perhaps if the show got some real people on, it might revive its fortunes.

The story of Eleanor Williams, 22, sentenced to eight-and-a-half years for falsely accusing a group of men of rape, is astounding. 

It seems lenient for a woman whose actions destroyed the lives of these innocent victims; yet how do you deal with someone prepared to beat her face with a hammer to pursue her fantasy? 

Either way, you have to congratulate those who saw through her lies. 

A trans woman previously convicted of having sex with an underage girl is described in court as having raped a vulnerable person ‘with her penis’. No. 

It is not possible for a woman to rape someone with ‘her penis’, as women don’t have penises. 

If even the law is using this insane language, what hope for the rest? 

Everything & nothing

I’ve tried to watch Everything Everywhere All At Once several times and failed to get past the first 20 minutes, so I’m baffled that it scooped so many Oscars.

That said, congratulations to Michelle Yeoh for winning Best Actress at 60: a huge achievement in a youth-obsessed industry. As she said, ‘Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you you’re past your prime.’

n Did it not occur to singer/songwriter Tems that as she wore a gigantic white halo at the Oscars, everyone around her spent the evening in danger of being poked in the eye or with their line of sight completely obscured by her intergalactic ego?

Those accusing the BBC of ‘Tory bias’ have short memories. 

Greg Dyke, made director- general by Tony Blair in 1999, resigned from the Labour Party the day after he was appointed; he was also a Labour donor to the tune of £50,000, which back then was a small fortune. 

Gavyn Davies, who was chairman between 2001 and 2004, was also a Labour donor, and his wife, Sue Nye, was Gordon Brown’s political secretary. 

When it comes to BBC bias, I’m afraid Labour wrote the book. 

Lame late excuse

As the dyslexic mother of a dyslexic child, I find it ridiculous that a dyslexic security guard successfully sued for discrimination at an employment tribunal when his bosses expected him to turn up on time. Dyslexia is not a disability, just a condition — which also has advantages — you learn to live with.

Soon there will be a medical excuse for everything, and none of us will ever leave the house.

A raft of popular cold and flu remedies has been withdrawn from sale following concerns over ‘very rare’ reactions. Why? 

Just because a few people might be allergic to something, it shouldn’t mean others can’t benefit. If I eat certain foods, my throat swells up. 

But I take precautions. I don’t expect others not to enjoy them. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? 

‘Sally’s Law’ (named after a rescued tiger cub), a Private Members’ Bill by Conservative MP Henry Smith which aims to stop hunters bringing back trophies of endangered species killed abroad, gets its final reading this week.

I can think of no earthly reason why anyone could object to it — unless you were the kind of idiot who thinks killing a defenceless animal with a modern weapon makes you more of a man.



Read More: SARAH VINE: Why does Gary Lineker get lionised – while Fiona Bruce is hung out to dry? 

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