Regular readers of this space are aware of the deep respect, nay affection, I feel for my friend Dave.
Yes, at weak moments I’ve been known to call him a spiv, a nonentity and a self-serving opportunist. But Dave always takes such criticism in the loving spirit in which it’s offered.
For example, this morning he mournfully nodded agreement when I told him he shouldn’t drink and speak, in public that is. “Dave,” I said, “You know I love you. But even I get confused about some of the things you say. I mean, having a drink or two to loosen up before speaking is fine. But getting sloshed isn’t – people just don’t know what the hell you’re trying to say.”
What caused this rebuke was Dave’s joint appearance with the new London mayor Sadiq Khan in support of Britain becoming a province in the EU, or a gau in the Fourth Reich, if you listen to Dave’s nemesis Boris.
Before taking the microphone, Dave was so agitated he had to steady his nerves by getting several large whiskies down his neck and falling off the wagon in a spectacular fashion. Then he got up, put his arm around Sadiq and called him… no, not the things he was calling him just a couple of weeks ago.
Then Dave for all intents and purposes described Sadiq as a supporter of Islamic State and a crypto-terrorist. Since at that time he was, for once, sober, Dave didn’t quite use those words, but he might as well have done.
Dave did say during PM’s questions that he “was concerned about Labour’s candidate as mayor of London who has appeared again and again and again” on stage hand in hand with radical imam Suliman Gani.
Actually he missed a trick there, for he should have repeated ‘again’ nine times, once for each such Sadiq-Suliman joint effort. Dave then co-opted Jeremy Corbyn for support, saying that even “the leader of the Labour party is saying it is disgraceful”.
So far so good, even though Dave’s stone-sober animadversions were met with shouts of “Racist!!!” coming from his fellow parliamentarians across the aisle. But then yesterday he spoke after having a few (or more than a few, truth be told), and ended up confusing everyone, me included.
Sadiq, said Dave, “is a proud Muslim, a proud Brit and a proud Londoner” and a great politician – this in spite of being “the son of a bus driver” and not, like Dave himself, “the son of a stockbroker”. To be fair, Dave didn’t actually say ‘in spite of’, but that’s how it came out.
That sort of class oneupmanship didn’t go over big with most people, but I actually didn’t mind it all that much. Perhaps that’s because, as Dave’s drinking mate, I was used to that sort of thing. When in his cups, Dave routinely talks about “those bloody jumped-up proles” who want to “run the show” in spite of being “common as muck”. But I did put my logical hat on and tried to reconcile Dave’s two assessments of Sadiq a fortnight apart.
For one thing, Dave clearly doesn’t think there’s any contradiction in being both a proud Muslim and a terrorist sympathiser. In fact, he probably feels that the latter is a natural adjunct to the former, even though Dave would have to get really whacked out of his mind (“pissed as a fart”, as he refers to extreme inebriation) to put it in so many words.
Nor does he any longer seem to think there’s anything wrong about cheering for Islamic State. He implied as much by sharing a platform with Sadiq who in his turn had shared it with crazed imams. This, even though just a fortnight ago Dave described Sadiq’s actions as being practically tantamount to being a terrorist himself, if by one remove.
Or even if there is a teensy-weensy bit wrong about being a terrorist sympathiser, it’s only a small failing, unnoticeable against the backdrop of the urgent imperative to turn Britain into a gau of the Fourth Reich, as my friend Boris puts it.
This is one possible interpretation of Dave’s about-face but, alas, not the only one. In fact, if I didn’t know my friend for a man of high principle and unimpeachable integrity, I’d think he is, well, all the things I sometimes call him at weak moments, those I mentioned in the first paragraph.
As it is, I’ll only repeat my words of avuncular advice: Dave, we’re none of us members of the Temperance League. We all like a drink, but for God’s sake, man, drinking and public speaking don’t mix. So next time stay sober and decide in advance whether a proud Muslim is the same as a terrorist sympathiser – or not quite.