Dan Wootton: Perhaps there’ll soon be a parade of virtue signalling covering every form of phobia before any athlete dares to play a game of sport.

Dan Wootton gives his take on the day's top stories.

Published

Premier League

Players said in a statement: "We feel now, more than ever, it is important for us to continue to take the knee as a symbol of our unity against all forms of racism. We remain resolutely committed to our singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect and equal opportunities for all."

Do not tell me every single Premier League player agrees with this highly divisive and political act, which is rejected by so many Brits. After all, Crystal Palace ace Wilfried Zaha previously refused, calling the act “degrading”. And Brentford also stopped because it had lost impact.

I would say any player who refuses to take the knee next season is doing the right thing by standing up to the highly political Black Lives Matter organisation that wants to overthrow capitalism, defund the police and dismantle the traditional family unit. But if the player were white on Twitter and in much of the media they would instantly be decried as some sort of craven racist.

That is the level of the debate we’re now experiencing. Taking the knee is meaningless gesture politics that makes the virtue signallers feel warm and fuzzy inside, while doing absolutely nothing to deal with the real problems at hand.

By extending the gesture through another season it also calls into question when the act will ever end? Obviously stamping out racism in society is important and something we should all be working towards every day. But the UK is one of the least racist and most tolerant countries in the world. And why is combatting racism considered more important by the Premier League than stamping out homophobia or sexism?

Perhaps there’ll soon be a parade of virtue signalling covering every form of phobia before any athlete dares to play a game of sport.

I would argue there’s much more of an issue around LGBT rights and football, given there’s not one out player and the next World Cup takes place in Qatar where being gay could see you sentenced to death.

Sport should be about escapism and avoiding the barrage of social politics we encounter in virtually every other aspect of our modern lives. The Premier League will rue its decision to make the taking of the knee a permanent fixture.

Travel

The Prime Minister won’t travel overseas this year, instead taking a virtue signalling staycation for the second summer in a row.

That goes against what I heard was his initial plan: To escape to a sunny Greek Island.

The PM’s advisers would have been terrified of the optics of him jetting abroad, while making European holidays virtually impossible for most Brits, with increasingly ridiculous regulations and eye wateringly expensive compulsory PCR tests. But I think Boris is sending the wrong message to the country.

Going overseas this summer would have been a clear indication of the decimated travel and tourism industry, which is desperately trying to survive and avoid the loss of thousands of jobs. It would also have been a sign that Global Britain has finally replaced Fortress Britain after 18 months of draconian and unnecessary border closures, which even SAGE scientists now admit would NOT have kept out Covid variants, only delayed their arrival to our shores.

Children

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is meant to be a scientific body immune to political pressure or interference. So how come they are so quickly reverse a decision not to vaccinate teenagers because of the risk of side effects?

Last month they said only teens and children at serious risk from Covid-19 should be offered the Pfizer jab. But the pressure from leading politicians has been overwhelming. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday for example: “I am hoping, possibly veering towards expecting, updated advice from the JCVI literally in the next day or so. I am hoping, but this is the JCVI’s advice, that they will recommend further vaccination of people in the 12 to 18-year-olds age group. I’m particularly hopeful that we will see some updated recommendations as the first part of this for 16 and 17-year-olds.”

Disturbingly, The Times reported today: “A source close to the JCVI complained of political attempts to ‘bounce’ it into the decision through public pressure.”

Our leaders love to talk about following the science – but that seems to change the moment the science doesn’t reflect their political aims.

Whitehall

No surprise that lazy civil servants at Whitehall are doing all they can to return to the office. Some government departments want to cap work in the office at just two days a week, with a 30/70 model being planned for many roles.

There’s no pressure coming from the government to get these publicly paid workers to set an example to the private sector.

Hardly an endorsement of Rishi Sunak’s new motto: Go Back to Get On.