This article first appeared on Reaction.


Reasoned with Darren Grimes, YouTube and all podcast platforms

Darren Grimes has a certain reputation – most of it thoroughly undeserved. His reputation should be as one of the most articulate voices for Brexit in the country and someone who explains complicated Brexit arguments in a very persuasive way. And there aren’t many of those to the pound.

But, thanks to the almost wicked attempts by people like Carole Cadwalladr to smear him and make out he was guilty of all sorts of crime during the Brexit referendum, those who don’t bother to look behind the headlines still believe he must have been up to no good. He was cleared of all allegations against him, but for Cadwalladr that’s not good enough.

Since he left the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Grimes has started his own podcast and YouTube channel called Reasoned. He concentrates on interviewing leading lights on the right but throws in the odd curveball like a rather enlightening interview he did with his younger brother Craig about the impact of anti-Coronavirus measures in their native North East. Articulacy clearly runs in the family.

Too often, Darren Grimes is silenced – or in the modern vernacular, cancelled – by TV and radio producers who still think he’s too hot to handle. Yes, he does appear on some programmes, but the ensuing abuse he receives all over social media is something to behold. The abuse is also turned onto the producers who book him and the presenters who interview him, leading many of them to think it’s just not worth the online hassle of having him back.

Grimes’ most recent headline hitting moment was when he interviewed the historian, Dr David Starkey. In the hour-long interview Starkey used the phrase “those damn blacks”. Starkey later attempted to contextualise his comment in a long article in The Critic magazine, apologising for the remarks and later seemed to understand why they had caused such offence. But in today’s world there is no room for nuance. To the watching Twitter mob, it was out and out proof that he was a racist.

However, it was his interviewer, Grimes, who also came under attack for not challenging him. It was a rookie mistake. Was he too in awe of Starkey (who he has said is one of heroes) to intervene, or did he just miss the moment? His detractors accused him of sympathising with Starkey by his sin of omission. This is ridiculous. Grimes is learning his trade as an interviewer. It’s a process I’ve been through too. The worst thing he can be accused of his naivety, nothing more. And anyone who thinks otherwise clearly has an agenda. Any excuse to cut down a tall poppy; it’s this country’s greatest export.

I can see the day when Grimes may think it’s just not worth it any longer, and he leaves the world of political campaigning and debate for pastures new. Our politics body would be the worse for it. I wouldn’t blame him though. It’s something that passes through a lot of our minds in these days of constant online abuse. Why do we continue to put ourselves through it? Because we can’t rid ourselves of the political virus that’s in our bloodstreams. And for many, there’s also a sense of duty to a cause. If people like Grimes don’t continue to put their case forward, then who will? If he and others give in to the baying mobs of the extreme left, they’ve won.

The Vice-Presidential Debate, Sky News, CNN and BBC

In terms of a spectacle, this placed after the Lord Mayor’s show, but it was all the better for it. It reminded us that it is still possible to conduct debates with respect, humour and civility.

The post-match commentary may have been less interesting than last week in Cleveland, but it left everyone feeling that there is indeed a better way of behaving towards one’s opponents, and this was it. Kamala Harris used humour well and even when she was disagreeing with Mike Pence, she did it in a pleasant way. Pence is of an age where he still thinks you treat any woman with respect, and he was never going to go down the road Trump did with Hillary Clinton in 2016.

His attack lines were measured and he rarely interrupted, although on one occasion Harris responded with a polite: “Would you mind? I’m speaking now.” Yes, it was a rebuke, but not an aggressive one.

Next week in Florida, we are back to the dark side. As I write, it’s been declared that the second Trump/Biden debate will be a virtual debate, something Trump has indicated he might refuse to take part in.

If it goes ahead, it should be easier to press the mute button at least. One can but hope.