Off to Queen’s for the tennis today, Royal Box hospitality with a few members of the sporting elite and UK Establishment, hoping that perhaps the UKE’s latest recruit, Armando Iannucci OBE, might be there so I can finally get an answer to the question: why did he take it?
I see from The Observer that he said Chris Hoy does not cycle any better or worse by dint of having taken a knighthood. But to my mind there is a big difference. Chris Hoy has never set himself up as a tail-tweaker of the Establishment. Armando Iannucci has. He has made his name, and considerable deserved wealth, on the back of it.
The twitter row I provoked yesterday went a lot bigger than I thought it would, and as ever, people tended to frame their responses according to set views. So I was working for the government at the time of Iraq war, and therefore cannot possibly criticise a satirist. Not sure I follow the logic. I have a set view about the honours system – I don’t like it, and about hypocrisy – I don’t like that either. As I said on Channel 4 last night – yes Channel 4 follow where twitter spats lead – I have no animus whatever against Armando, who I think is very clever, very funny, a worthy recipient of all sorts of awards and honours. But I felt this one was a bad one for him to accept, and that it would blunt his impact as a satirist. I think I am as entitled to say that just as he is entitled to say – wrongly – that modern politics is all about spin.
Let me also deal with one of the myths that many repeddled yesterday, namely that I find Malcolm Tucker and The Thick of It boring. Au contraire. Tucker is a great comic creation, and I confess to a little disappointment when actor Peter Capaldi said it was less based on me than Harvey Bernstein (I think). I also think The Thick of It was at its best brilliant. Where the myth came from was that I said on The Culture Show that I got bored watching the film version, In The Loop.
People say they like people in politics to say what they think, but this is an example of a case where that is shown not to be true. Saying what you think leads them to say, as many did yesterday, that I resented the linking of me and Tucker, and therefore had been sitting in wait for a chance to slug his creator. Not so. I was genuinely surprised Iannucci accepted an honour, and given I have views on the honours system, I said so.
His analysis of politics is that politicians never answer questions properly. Yet the purpose of my tweets was to get him to answer the question above. Why? Two tweets about Iraq and WMD had his many admirers chortling merrily. But it was an evasion so obvious Tucker would not have approved, any more than he would have approved of him taking the honour.
I sensed his defensiveness about it in his quote in the Daily Record, when he said if the OBE was an attempt by the Government to stop him taking the mick out of politicians, it won’t work. Fair enough. But what yesterday suggested is that he is a tad thin-skinned when he finds it is he, rather than people in politics, who are on the receiving end of accusations of hypocrisy and difficult direct questions.
As for all those who commented that I had a book to promote … That is a statement of fact. Burden of Power, diaries from 9-11 t the war in Iraq. Second installment in The Guardian tomorrow. Book in shops Thursday.if you click back to the homepage, there is a link to Amazon. Tata. Sun’s out. Canapés await. Tennis to follow.