Why Laurie Penny called David Starkey 'racist' - and what came next

Jun 24, 2012

Radical journalist got into furious row with TV historian after 'foothills of the Punjab' remarks

THANK GOODNESS for David Starkey: without him, there might not have been that much to say about The Sunday Times's - doubtless worthy - Festival of Education. As it is, the paper has a story and two journalists have a little more publicity.

Apparently angered by a remark he made about the group of Asian men from Rochdale convicted for grooming white girls for sex, blogger and writer Laurie Penny yesterday called Starkey a "racist" and a "bigot" and suggested, without any apparent evidence, that he dabbled in tax avoidance, provoking a furious response from the TV historian.

The trouble began when Penny, a radical left-wing journalist who provoked anger with her gonzo coverage of last summer's riots, was in the audience for a session featuring Starkey.

Discussing the Rochdale criminals (not for the first time) Starkey said their values were "entrenched in the foothills of the Punjab or wherever it is" and that they needed to be "inculcated in the British ways of doing things".

Penny spoke up from the audience in reaction to that, but the row really got going when she joined him on stage for a later session – a panel discussion of Britishness.

Penny accused Starkey of "playing xenophobia and national prejudice for laughs". To shouts from the audience of "Keep going! Keep going!" she made an argument about Starkey's tax status.

As the paper reports, Starkey walked over to Penny and "jabbed his finger at her face", telling her: "I will not be lectured by a jumped-up public schoolgirl like you!"

He said he objected to being compared to a "mean and grasping runt comedian", suggesting perhaps that Jimmy Carr's name has been so traduced by recent revelations about his perfectly legal tax avoidance that comparison to the stand-up comic is now the worst imaginable insult.

After the event, Penny said: "David Starkey is a troll and that’s what trolls do. He’s a bigot and that’s what bigots do. When you call a racist a racist, you get attacked."

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

Always amusing to see Laurie Penny complain about sexism and racism when she's a racist sexist bigot herself.

Next time you read one of her articles just replace "Straight White Man" with "Black Lesbian" and you'll see that she's just the same as the people she attacks.

She's just another tribal small minded bigot having a go at someone who doesn't belong to her "tribe".

I'm not excusing David Starkey as he's an odious pillock; I am saying that Laurie Penny is exactly the same as him.

Well, like our beloved Prime Minister, she went to Christ Church (as well as public school). And to think my generation had Chris Hitchens. (But he was a Balliol man...)

Good for Starkey about time somebody had the balls to speak out for plain speaking & ignore this raciest nonsense that inhibits true & factual speaking.