James O'Brien's 'breathtaking' speech on Tyrone Mings condemning Priti Patel

13 July 2021, 12:34 | Updated: 13 July 2021, 15:56

By Fiona Jones

Listeners brand James O'Brien's speech "breathtaking" as he responds to Tyrone Mings hitting out at Priti Patel over her decision to "stoke the fire" of racism.

It comes after England defender Tyrone Mings blasted Priti Patel for her condemnation of racial abuse after she previously called players taking the knee "gesture politics".

Fellow footballers, politicians and public figures have come out in support of members of the national team - namely Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka - after they suffered racial abuse on social media following their Euro 2020 final defeat.

She wrote: "I am disgusted that @England players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media.

"It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable."

However, England star Mings used social media to respond to Ms Patel's comments: "You don't get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as 'Gesture Politics' & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we're campaigning against, happens."

James O'Brien branded the Home Secretary's conduct as "despicable" after she "misrepresented" the motivation behind players taking the knee: "So you are on one knee for a reason. Who would you like to stand up in the public space and state without the possibility of contradiction why you are on one knee?"

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"Would you like that person to be you or would you like that person to be a columnist in the Spectator magazine?"

He said that in the current climate apparently it must be pointed out that it would be "pant-wettingly stupid, not to mention deeply and profoundly dishonest, deceptive and disingenuous to pretend that anybody else is better qualified than you are to tell everyone else why you are on your knee."

"Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, albeit a proven bully and liar, thought that she had more right to tell you why those men were on their knee than they did because they told us why they were taking the knee again and again and again," James said.

He continued: "Priti Patel, without really realising how despicable her conduct was, took it upon herself in pursuit of a very predictable constituency of voters, to tell you why other people whom she'd never met but had explained why they were taking the knee before football games, were really taking the knee before football games.

"She had the crass obnoxiousness to describe it as gesture politics."

James suggested that people did not like them taking the knee "because it works": "These men had found a way post Dr King, post Colin Kaepernick, these men had found a way to protest with epic peacefulness about racism."

"How arrogant would I have to be to think that my opinion on when they should or should not take the knee mattered one jot? These football players can stop taking the knee when they want to," he said, pointing out an opinion on it would be the epitome of white privilege.

"If you were on one knee...it isn't for me to decide when you stop doing it...it's you."

LBC approached the Home Office for comment and they responded by sharing Ms Patel's statement: "I know that the whole House will join me in condemning the sickening racist abuse directed last night at our heroic England football team on social media.

"These young men represented our nation with pride and dignity, and we are proud of them and the fortitude they showed the country last night. Racist abuse is utterly unacceptable and illegal, whether or not it takes place in front of people—online or offline. Individuals who commit racist offences should rightly face the full force of the law.

"Social media companies in particular have a clear responsibility for the content they host on their platforms, and they can no longer ignore some of the appalling, vile, racist, violent and hateful content that appears on their platforms. We have been clear that if they do not stamp this out, we will take actions against them in the Online Safety Bill.

"It will take a determined effort and action by everyone across society, and all institutions, to end the corrosive culture of racism. On that point, the thuggish and violent behaviour we saw last night was utterly disgusting and there is no place in our society for it; these people have no right to be called fans, and they will face serious consequences for their actions.

"To conclude, let me say that our nation is immensely proud of our three lions, and they showed true grit and determination in their actions last night and their endeavours on the pitch."