In Depth

Videos show Laurie Penny and 'dinosaur' Starkey in full rant

'I will not be lectured to by you' says TV historian, jabbing his finger at the radical blogger

MORE details have emerged of the heavyweight clash of the commentariat this weekend between radical blogger and journalist Laurie Penny and the outspoken TV historian David Starkey at the Sunday Times Festival of Education.

The newspaper released video clips today of the contretemps, which occurred after the historian had talked about the values of the Asian men from Rochdale who were convicted of grooming young white girls for sex as being "entrenched in the foothills of the Punjab or wherever it is", and how the men needed to be "inculcated in the British ways of doing things".

Penny accused Starkey of "playing xenophobia and national prejudice for laughs" and asked him in a leading question whether he had a home in America, implying that Starkey might have tax questions to answer, a strong innuendo in the current climate of zero-tolerance.

The video shows Starkey bouncing out of his seat in response to this perceived smear, taking to the lectern to "share a little story" about how he and Penny had both been invited to debate by the Thomas Paine Society, but that while he had agreed to waive his fee the younger polemicist had asked for "such a large fee that the event had to be cancelled".

"I think that is as mean and grasping as some runt comedian and I will not be lectured to by a public school girl like you!" a visibly angry Starkey spits, advancing on the diminutive Penny until he is standiung directly in front of her, while stabbing the air with his finger to punctuate his points.

"I came from the bottom and I will not have it!" he signs off with a flourish to considerable applause from a crowd quite evidently relishing the ruckus. Penny attempts to repudiate the points but stumbles over her answer while Starkey sups from a glass of red wine behind her and the panel discussion continues.

However, Penny gets another chance to explain herself, and uses it to claim that the actions of Starkey were one of the reasons why she had quoted a "ridiculous sum of money" so as not to be subjected to the "violence inherent in this discussion".

A voice from the crowd shouts at her: "You started it, you called him a racist", to which Penny replies: "He is a racist". At this point the chaplain of Wellington College jumps onto the stage to call a halt to the proceedings.

Events then take a turn as James Brown, Starkey's partner, leaps up on stage, appears to remove something from Starkey's jacket, and then begins to harangue Penny. He is joined by Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas think tank, who according to The Sunday Times, had already attacked Penny from the floor for being a disgrace to feminism.

Penny uses her Independent column today to tell her side of the story, referring to Starkey as a "dinosaur" and mocking him as "Bigotaurus Ridiculus". With a touch of espirit d'escalier, Penny concludes: "Like the ancient lizards, Starkey and his kind are perilously ill-adapted to the modern world – but they have yet to be consigned to history where they belong."

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