After we look again at our age of lunacy, our period of hysterical magical pondering, who will symbolise it greatest? Would possibly or not it’s the moob-baring Michelin Man of recent music, Sam Smith? In a single breath, the nonbinary singer sulks: ‘I hate studying!’ And within the subsequent, when insisting on being known as ‘they / them’, he scolds: ‘We’re altering a language right here!’ Or may or not it’s Meghan Markle, Duchess Doubtfire, who claimed to have been instructed by a South African actor that ‘While you married into [the British royal family], we rejoiced within the streets the identical we did when Mandela was free of jail’? Although each of those preposterous figures deserve an honourable point out, my vote goes to the BBC’s Gary Lineker.

The Gandhi of targets has now turn out to be such a residing legend within the humanitarian Olympics that he not too long ago – and reluctantly, I’d wager, being such an exceptionally modest man – revealed to the Telegraph that he as soon as obtained a standing ovation in an M&S (Barnes department). Apparently, this was throughout his temporary suspension from his life-saving work as a BBC soccer pundit, after he tweeted that Britain’s immigration insurance policies resembled the crimes of Nazi Germany.

Chatting with the Telegraph final week, Lineker stated: ‘I recall strolling to M&S two or three days in, and I bought a standing ovation… Oh, it was actually cringe… I didn’t know what to do. I simply thought, “Please cease’’.’

I can’t assist pondering that buyers may not have reacted in fairly the identical means in an Aldi or a Lidl. In any case, Lineker’s luxurious beliefs are out of the value vary of the peasants who are likely to see points like sovereignty and borders otherwise to Saint Gaz.

Nonetheless, this isn’t the primary time Lineker has boasted about his personal ethical spotlessness. Apparently, the nice crisp-flogger is so missing in unique sin that, as a schoolboy, he miraculously grew to become non-white. In a podcast interview final 12 months, he stated: ‘With out being good at sport, life would have been very completely different for me… I feel I might have been bullied in school. I used to be type of marginally that means anyway as a result of I used to be this tiny geeky child, with darkish pores and skin and I had just about racist abuse.’ With this assertion – so insulting to precise victims of racism – he established his specialness, lengthy earlier than the miracle in M&S.

On the threat of cheeking my betters, I’d opine that the tweet that bought Gary suspended was verging on the hysterical. It’s absurd to say that actions taken to cease unlawful immigration to the UK are in a roundabout way equal to ‘Germany within the Nineteen Thirties’. Sure, it’s our previous pal ‘Everybody I don’t like is actually Hitler’, final used this offensively again in 2019, when Instances columnist India Knight wrote of the ache of residing in post-Brexit Britain as somebody who was born in Belgium. ‘I now have a letter from the Residence Workplace that I carry about on my telephone, in case I want to point out it to somebody, like a Jew in late Nineteen Thirties Berlin’, she stated.

Nonetheless, Lineker bears his crown of thorns bravely, by no means repenting. Earlier this month, the Mail on Sunday compiled the ‘Woke Checklist 2023’, which featured him alongside different snooty buffoons, similar to tax lawyer Jolyon Maugham and ex-NatWest CEO Dame Alison Rose. Taking exception to the listing, Lineker instructed the Telegraph: ‘I might ask you, what’s “woke”? Is it a foul factor? Is it simply referring to individuals who have some type of social conscience? I don’t essentially discover being known as woke an insult.’

It’s turn out to be a standard trope now for wokeness to be equated with decency. As comic Kathy Burke has put it: ‘Should you’re not racist, you’re woke. Should you’re not homophobic, oh, you’re woke… Being woke is a really respectable factor; it’s about being an honest human being.’

However such a studying of woke is both foolish or sinister. Take the trans debate. Is it actually respectable to inform uppity girls to give up all the things they’ve earned, from their non-public areas to their place on sporting podiums? Is it respectable for burly transvestites to threaten non-compliant girls with rape? Is it respectable that gender-critical thinker Kathleen Inventory wants police safety? In line with such logic, the witch trials have been merely a free and frank change of views.

Woke isn’t about decency or having a social conscience. Woke is what lets over-privileged folks current themselves as victims – whether or not that’s college students from rich backgrounds figuring out as queer or a multimillionaire like Lineker seemingly figuring out as BAME. Notably among the many showbiz contingent, the audacity of the woke is nearly admirable, similar to when the very rich Steve Coogan claimed taxpayer-funded furlough grants for the gardener and housekeeper at his £4million mansion, a 12 months after starring in a movie known as Greed.

We additionally study in that Telegraph interview that Gary is hoping to write down a memoir quickly. We will solely hope that he doesn’t stint on reward for himself, as have to be tempting for such a paragon of advantage.

Fortunately, his amour-propre appears in high-quality fettle. When recalling the media mobbing he obtained the morning after he known as the federal government Nazis, he chuckles: ‘[The paparazzi] all began working after me with cameras. There was one youthful man… he’s chasing me and I’m sprinting away from him. He yells, “Gary, you’re faster than us!”. I shout again, “You’re half my age!”.’ Lineker may simply be the following James Bond, so boundless are his abilities.

A standing ovation in M&S is the least Lineker deserves. Let’s make it being carried shoulder-high in Sainsbury’s subsequent time, and even higher, a mass providing of the Remainer first-born in Waitrose. Let’s see that this big amongst males is raised proper up there the place he belongs, first amongst equals like Sam Smith and Meghan Markle. In any case, in Lineker’s personal self-image at the very least, he’s the one factor right here on Nazi island that’s standing in the best way of barbarism.

Julie Burchill is a spiked columnist. Her e-book, Welcome To The Woke Trials: How #Identification Killed Progressive Politics, is revealed by Academica Press.