For those who don’t know Mr Woolfe, he was hovering on the edges of glory at UKIP for a few years, challenging for the ‘leadership’ at one stage, until leaving in high dudgeon after a classy physical altercation with a colleague, and now standing as an ‘Independent’. UKIP is, for the uninitiated, the United Kingdom Independence Party – a political party of xenophobic, borderline racist, swivel-eyed loons who have done as much as anyone else to get us into this desperate Brexit mess.
Mr Woolfe is currently one of my MEPs (Member of the European Parliament). I didn’t vote for him. But tonight, to my shame, he represents me.
Some of you will have noticed that I’m dipping my toe into this Twitter lark this year (I hope you’ll forgive my inevitable clumsiness with the medium). Come and say hello! This is where I found my latest Crime Against Shakespeare.
Like the Rolling Stones (and many other artists) signalling their offence at the appropriation of their songs by Donald Trump, I’d like to register my unhappiness at Woolfe’s use of Shakespeare, on several counts. But first a few observations:
- this is the least inspiring hamper I have ever seen. It wouldn’t be out of place on a Christmas charity appeal, with a voiceover telling viewers: “this is all the UK has to show for itself. The situation is urgent. Please think of others far worse off than you and give generously”;
- we don’t, to my knowledge, grow tea in this country;
- picallili uses spices imported from abroad; and
- the ‘Britain’ you’ve stated does not include Northern Ireland – ironic, really, given the fact that the DUP, with a whopping 292,000 votes at the last General Election (under 1% of the electorate), is holding the country to ransom as we speak (there’s a health warning on these nutters, too – ‘D’ stands for democratic in the same way as it does in North Korea …)
But back to the use of Shakespeare.
Your stated purpose in giving this tempting bribe to M. Barnier at the EU appears to be to show him what the other 27 countries will be missing. A show of strength? Well, Shakespeare has been dead for over 400 years, Mr Woolfe. Have you nothing more recent to show for our country? Much as I love Shakespeare’s works, they are out of copyright and read / beloved the world over. They do not belong to us. No-one can stop our neighbours from enjoying Shakespeare in 2020. Indeed, as I have mentioned before, I ‘look with envious eyes’ (to paraphrase HG Wells) across the Atlantic, seeing how much more popular he seems to be in the US. I’ll go further – it is a mere accident of birth that Shakespeare is English – I repeat, I love his works, but can’t take any kudos for the fact that he happened to be born in the same country as my parents. I appreciate good art no matter which nation, creed or gender it originates from.
It’s wrong to put words in to Shakespeare’s mouth, or ideas into his brain. But sometimes we need to defend our dead hero’s memories. I can’t think that the man who wrote St Thomas More, Act II sc iv would approve of this co-opting of his work for jingoistic purposes, needlessly provoking countries, allies, friends for over 75 years. If this is madness, and I genuinely believe it is, then there is no method in it, as your choice of Shakespeare for this stunt demonstrates …
I’ll leave you, sir, with John of Gaunt’s dying speech from Richard II (Act II, sc 1):
‘That England, that was wont to conquer others, Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.’