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Lindy McDowell

You’re wrong, Stormzy, Eamonn is no racist... he’s sticking up for the truly disadvantaged

Lindy McDowell



Stormzy

Dear Stormzy, I know. Of all the people you may have been expecting to receive a letter from this week, it wasn't me. Can I just say you would not have been top of my list of likely correspondents either?

You're a rapper, a grime star, the music world's man of the moment; you're also outspoken, a leading "influencer" and a man who commendably puts your money where your mouth is.

But we do have one thing in common, you and I. We both come from non-silver spoon territory.

Both of us are proud of our roots. Both of us appreciate the strengths of the communities from which we come - but also the brakes which a poor background unfairly applies to the lives of so many young people, even now in 2020.

I respect you for funding scholarships to Cambridge for young black students. You want to see more black kids in our top universities and, while your scheme is focused primarily on their ethnicity, any initiative which gives disadvantaged youth a hand-up is grand by me.

Some critics, though, call it racism.

A similar sort of offer by Sir Bryan Thwaites (96) to leave £1m to two elite schools to fund scholarships for poor white boys (who, statistics show, perform worst in the education system) was turned down.

The schools argue it would contravene equality laws and that funding education on the basis of colour is wrong.

Sir Bryan attended the same schools - but only through winning a scholarship himself. To him, it's about helping the most "underperforming cohort" (as he puts it).

Is either or both men's motivation racist?

I don't believe so. I see two men trying to help young people from the same disadvantaged background as themselves.

Racism has been a big talking-point this week.

Specifically, how it might feature in the case of Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Cross-Atlantic Wealth Creation.

And, yes, Stormzy, you can take from that I'm not a fan of the pair. But, no, this is not on account of colour, or gender.

(The royal household, an institution headed up for the last 70 years by a woman, has been accused of being sexist).

Wading into the racism row, you, Stormzy, even had a pop at our own Eamonn Holmes.

Eamonn had commented: "I look at her (Meghan) and I think, 'I don't think I'd like you in real life.' You're just that awful, woke, weak, manipulative, spoilt ..."

You dismissed his comments as racist. "Bro, she's black that's who you're talking about."

Then you added: "Just get the eff out of here" which, while being very rapperish, doesn't much suggest room for further debate.

But you're wrong.

Eamonn Holmes is no racist. He's talking from a very different perspective.

He's talking from the perspective of millions of taxpaying people who feel patronised, lectured and let down by Meghan and Harry.

Especially now that the pair are so blatantly aiming to cash in on the trappings of an institution which taxpayers finance.

This is about a bit more than just the son quitting the family firm and insisting on taking the company car with him.

It's Meghan and Harry's royal titles being used as the vehicle for their own future enrichment.

They preach to the rest of us from their lofty perch, he in his victimhood, she in Givenchy. One of her dresses alone costs more than many a worker's annual pay.

More, indeed, than a Cambridge scholarship.

Surely, you can see why that might anger ordinary working punters who pick up the tab?

Bigotry takes many forms. (You'll know that. You've previously apologised for those shocking homophobic tweets you posted when you were much younger).

But it is not bigotry or racism to point up that many people might see more pressing need for taxpayer funding than a couple of entitled multi millionaires.

So, my advice...

Save your breath, your energy and your sympathy, Stormzy, for those who truly are disadvantaged.

Beware making Trump a martyr

Not a great week for Donald Trump, only the third president in American history to face impeachment.

Evidence is stacking up against him. But nothing that Mr "It's all a witch-hunt" Trump won't be able to spin in his own inimitable fashion. And the Republican Senate will mostly be on his side.

For the Democrats, his trial in an election year was a wish come true.

But what if it makes Trump a martyr to his fans? As they say - be careful what you wish for.

Selfless Brian’s one of the best

My friend, and one of my personal heroes, Fr Brian D'Arcy, was presented with his OBE this week.

He received the award for his services to cross-community relations from Prince William. And even amid the formality at the Palace, he was thinking of others.

Fr Brian, told the prince he was praying for his family. I'm not a big one for religion, or prayer.

But I recognise a typically kind gesture from a good man. And Fr Brian D'Arcy OBE is one of the best.

Politicians deserving of public scepticism

For me, the most glorious moment during the Stormont back-to-work Press conference was when journalist Ralph Hewitt, from this paper, inquired of the PM whether his visit here was just a publicity stunt and photo opportunity.

The look on Boris' face!

For a second or two, he burbled on about that being a bit harsh from the Belfast Telegraph, before returning to his standard Stormont spiel about goodwill and compromise and the hand of the future etc, etc.

What was great about the question was that it summed up precisely what the rest of us were thinking.

Politicians, in general, don't like being asked those sort of questions. The blunt ones that make them squirm.

Boris, in relaunching the Assembly at Stormont, was quick off the blocks to praise our local lot for "stepping up to the plate".

That would be the same plate they, inexcusably, avoided for so very long. And now - one hopes refreshed from their three-year furlough - they're finally back at their work.

Boris, meanwhile, is back at his work. Campaigning all week over that most important issue - whether Big Ben should bong to signal Official Brexit on January 31.

A publicity stunt? A photo opportunity?

Surely not, Boris.

Contrary to what Mr Johnson suggested in his upbeat message at Stormont, our politicians didn't step up - they let us down. All of them.

So, in future, when they signal their commitment to the electorate, we could be forgiven for being a bit more sceptical, a bit more blunt and to the point in our questioning of their motives.

A bit more Ralph.

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