Emma Thompson had what could technically be called a right kicking from Harry Cole, deputy political editor of the Mail on Sunday, last weekend. As a less elevated owner of that surname, I’d say that Harry let down Coles everywhere with his shoddy behaviour.
Thompson’s sin was to be photographed on a plane flying to New York. In saner times, “actress catches plane” would not be much of a story. But in these over-heated, spittle-flecked days, Thompson found herself in the stocks for flying first class to New York after supporting the Extinction Rebellion protesters.
Cole’s intro gets the boot in without hesitation, as is the way with a tabloid kicking… “Left-wing actress Dame Emma Thompson was branded a ‘first-class hypocrite’ last night after jetting to New York just days after backing climate protests that brought chaos to London…”
After that, Thompson is sneered at for being a Jeremy Corbyn supporter and for having said: “We should all fly less.”
Let’s stop to analyse this kicking. Who branded Thompson a hypocrite? Ahem, our old friend unnamed sources and anonymous onlookers, as far as I could see from skimming the story online while holding my nose.
As for being a “life-long Labour supporter”, well, it’s not a crime – and, anyway, in an interview on the BBC Today programme, Thompson indicated that she was leaning green more these days.
Thompson’s main crime, in seems, is to be rich and successful – a “multi-millionaire” according to another sneer here – and to have opinions.
The easy route for successful people such as Emma would be to pipe down, drink the champagne in first class and keep her opinions to herself. She prefers not to do that and is happy to exclaim out loud in long and joined up sentences – which are later used to lasso her.
In that interview on the Today programme, Thompson said that it was hard to do her job without flying. She said she tried to offset her carbon footprint, adding that she was in a fortunate position – “most people can’t”.
Here is the loop that was pulled round her neck – “We should all fly less. We’re going to have to fly less…”
Thompson accepted the difficulties and hypocrisies involved in trying to sort all this out. Perhaps her mistake was to have allied herself to those climate extremists of Extinction Rebellion protesters who brought chaos to London. Yet environmental chaos is brought to London and everywhere else by all of us, thanks to our need to drive and fly, and apparently too by our liking for climate-harming meat. And that was another of Thompson’s sins, according to the Mail on Sunday – she once supported “meat-free Mondays”. Gosh, in these vegan-obsessed days, that seems a small sin.
In the same Today interview, Thompson also said child poverty in Britain was “Dickensian” – and so it is, but the other Cole left that one alone. Instead he stuck to the old tabloid stitch-up template.
As the end of that interview, Thompson was asked if she was tempted to enter politics. “Oh God, no,” she said. And who could blame her.
Incidentally, computers and laptops and televisions are said to be bad for global warming, too. Just about everything is, and we all carry on doing it.
Is the Mail on Sunday bad for global warming? Oh, it’s bad for locally warming my temper, but that’s a different matter.
ELECTION FOOTNOTE: Can we all stop over-interpreting the local elections now, please?
Short story: the results were terrible for the Conservatives – and dire for Labour, too. Yes, the Tories got more of a thrashing, but Labour did poorly against an unpopular government that’s been in power for nine tattered years. And the LibDems and Greens got a booster.
Still, I can’t help thinking of that shop in The League of Gentlemen – “These were local elections for local people.” Not an opinion poll to thrash out whatever belief you want to see thrashed.