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Thursday, December 01, 2011 

Personally, I think everyone who complains should be shot.

Jeremy Clarkson must be thoroughly pissed off tonight. While there's probably no change there then, he really has been hung out to dry by the BBC over his appearance yesterday on the One Show. Shorn completely context, as even the BBC were originally providing it as, his apparent statement that all those on strike should not just be shot, but in front of their families does seem outrageous. If you watch just the clip of him saying that, then while it's clear he doesn't really mean it, it's still enough to offend.

Read the full transcript the BBC finally got around to releasing at the same time as Clarkson apologised this evening, and it ought to be obvious even to our modern day Mary Whitehouses that he was mocking the BBC's standard impartiality policy of getting two people with completely opposing views to debate a subject. He even mocks himself slightly, with his reference to feeling at home in the 1970s before he then goes on to provide his own "balance". As he says once Matt Baker and Alex Jones have attempted to add to the gag and failed, they're not his views, they are "two views".

From this, helped along by Twitter and what the BBC have described as an orchestrated campaign, we've had a mini-repeat of Sachsgate, that incredible worldwide incident where a comedian and presenter went slightly too far with a joke and the Daily Mail nearly exploded. Just as that was political and seized upon by those who should have known better, so now we've got those who've always disliked Clarkson and want to score points against David Cameron making an unholy stink. Even taken out of the crucial context demands for his sacking were ridiculous; now they look and indeed are downright ignorant.

It's also been wholly self-defeating on the part of Dave Prentis, the head of Unison: by most measures yesterday's strikes were highly successful in gaining public support. Instead of discussing the madness of the government's austerity plans, we've been talking about something entirely inconsequential. No change there then either.

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Whilst I agree the issue has been overblown, I'm not sure Clarkson's "joke" is seen as inconsequential by some strikers. This is not Sachsgate. There is a political context to Clarkson's comments, including the fact Clarkson and Cameron are good buddies, and guess what? Dave is sticking up for his right-wing chum.

I was in a room full of trade unionist activists last night and I couldn't find a single one of them that was offended by Clarkson and a number of them were horrified that unison were taking the focus off the dispute and putting it onto this sideshow of a man.

Anyone who reads the transcript can see that he had nothing wrong and if the left want to start jumping up and down at this sort of thing then they can't complain when people get jailed for tweeting about airports.

I do feel dirty defending Clarkson but facts are facts.

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