Tuesday, 14 March 2017

More fool you

What kind of tomfoolery is this?


One answer might be that it's an awfully familiar form of tomfoolery. It's been a while, sure, since I've come across a prominent piece about the chessboxing circus on the telly, something that the BBC used to do all the time: still, programme researchers are presumably as gullible now as they ever have been, otherwise Tim Woolgar wouldn't have been able to get away with this stuff for a decade.

What's Tim Farron doing, though, going along with this? Why is the leader of the Liberal Democrats promoting an event whose major purpose is to give publicity to a leading member of a far-right organisation?

The clowns at London Chessboxing have a show on April 1 which is headed by a bout between Jonathan Arnott, UKIP MEP for the North East of England (and actual county-strength chessplayer) and an opponent described in their literature as "Lib Dem activist Toby White".


White, they go on to say, "is looking for payback after campaigning unsuccessfully for the Remain campaign last Summer".

What larks. I've always said that chessboxing was a freak show, and freak show is exactly what this is.

Still, it's not even a particularly appetising freak show, and on this occasion less than ever before: the "campaign last Summer" to which London Chessboxing refer was one marked (and won) by an enormous amount of extremely unpleasant racist propoaganda in which leading members of UKIP played a major role. It's no exaggeration to say that the promotion of hatred against foreigners and other people perceived as outsiders is UKIP's sole function in British politics.

This raises the question, as mentioned above, as to why the Liberal Democrats would want to be larking around with these people. You can understand why Sunday Politics might - if it weren't for the BBC, nobody would ever have heard of Nigel Farage - but you would think that a political party which seeks to identify with the European Union in particular and with liberal values in general might take serious things seriously.

It's not the first time recently Tim Farron has blundered the moment he's had anything to do with chess - just last October he was issuing statements in support of long-term tax evader Mike Basman, thus committing the same sin of taking people's press releases on face value that's kept chessboxing going.

Still, aside from being a tax evader Mike Basman is guilty of little more than being a silly old fool. Jonathan Arnott's party however are a bunch of would-be Nazis and to play games with them, to treat them as just a larf, is to normalise them. Sunday Politics shouldn't do it, though they do, London Chessboxing shouldn't do it, though they do, and Tim Farron shouldn't do it, though he has.

For all I know it's just a big April Fools' joke. Whatever kind of joke it is, it's not a very funny one, and only a fool would go along with it.

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