Paxman upset some viewers last month when he interviewed (rap star Dizzee) Rascal on Newsnight and asked the London-born star: "Mr Rascal, do you feel yourself to be British?"The prior guest had been Baroness Amos, discussing race, nationality and identity, and hw we in the UK don’t discuss the nature of ‘Britishness’. So this was referring to that discussion.
A bemused Rascal - real name Dylan Mills - replied: "Of course I'm British... it don't matter what colour you are."Of course, it doesn’t. And that’s not what Paxman was getting at.
But the professionally-aggrieved have jumped on the bandwagon regardless:
Speaking to the New Statesman, fellow black star Estelle said: "That was out of line. Paxman's not going to get away with asking me do I think I'm British. That's disrespectful - you know, what do you think I am?"Hmm, I think my money’d be on Paxo in that encounter…
Smacking her fist into her palm, the Mercury-nominated singer added: "I'd want to question him - and make him feel like an idiot."
Estelle said she was also disappointed by Rascal's performance on Newsnight. He was invited onto the programme during coverage of the US Presidential election to discuss whether Britain would ever have a black Prime Minister.Oh, she’s quite the intellectual, isn’t she…?
He did not take the encounter too seriously, and Estelle complained: "I don't ever want to diss another artist that I know is in the same struggle and grind as me, but it was the look on Jeremy Paxman's face. I was like, 'He [Paxman] is taking you for an idiot right now! Did no-one brief you?' I felt so disappointed because Dizzee has come so far as an artist and a businessman that to go on there and represent us, represent all the musicians in the UK, it was like Oh. My. God."
But she’s off again:
Estelle was also critical of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident initiative, which was set up to combat black-on-black gun crime. She has appeared in a Trident advert for MTV but said: "Now they're acting like I'm their ambassador... that whole programme, to me, it's faulty because it hasn't really worked. They're just telling kids they're going to lock them up.I guess she’s a little confused about the role of the police in the UK, poor lamb….
Where is the extra help, where's the extra care?"
She did have some positive things to say about Barack Obama, however. "I'm so full of joy that America elected Obama. He didn't win because he was black. People voted for him because he had a plan and because he talked sense and because you believed him. When he stands up on the podium, you get goosebumps."All perfectly good reasons for choosing a leader, I’m sure. If you’re 5 years old.
I wonder when Obama’s ‘plan’ will materialise, and what she’ll think of it when/if it does?