When is it okay to make obscene Hitler comparisons and to mock cancer survivors, while still claiming to be an enlightened, privilege-checking, compassionate progressive?
Well apparently if your name is Sandi Toksvig and you are speaking at the Hay Festival – the “Woodstock of the mind“, according to Bill Clinton – then you have a license to do just that while still being taken seriously as a decent, responsible individual.
The Spectator gives an account of Toksvig’s inflammatory off-the-cuff remarks:
Toksvig saved her most cutting remarks for Nigel Farage. ‘I watched the count for South Thanet and I found myself cheering for the Tory candidate,’ she told the audience. ‘I hate Farage for that, I really do. He made me cheer a Tory, the b—-rd.’
She then went on to refer to the testicle the Ukip leader lost to cancer, joking about what Farage and Hitler have in common: ‘Farage kept having pictures of him defaced with Hitler moustaches. I mean he’s not really like Hitler. Okay, he has a German wife, he hates foreigners, he only has one testicle and he was defeated.’
Imagine now that Sandi Toksvig had launched a crass verbal tirade against a senior politician of any other party while living it up at the Hay Festival. Suppose that she had made a joke about David Cameron’s late son, Ivan, or chortled to herself as she regaled her audience with a wisecrack about Ed Miliband’s deviated septum. Hell, imagine that Toksvig had just made fun of Ed Balls’ mild stammer.
If Toksvig had done any of these things it would have been a national scandal – guaranteed front page stories in all the national newspapers. Forget any more lucrative gigs on BBC Radio, Toksvig would have counted herself lucky to work as a volunteer on hospital radio after so openly and tastelessly mocking an establishment party leader.