Andy McSmith's Diary: George Osborne's Agincourt gag costs him historian's vote

Charles VI was mad, genuinely insane and incapable of governing France

Click to follow
Indy Politics

While the polls imply that George Osborne’s Budget last week has had no measurable impact on public opinion, the din of battle still resounds around the remarks he cracked about Agincourt. In his Budget speech, the Chancellor described the battle, 600 years ago this October, as a story of how “a strong leader defeated an ill-judged alliance between the champion of a united Europe and a renegade force of Scottish nationalists.” Get it? David Cameron equals Henry V, Ed Miliband is Charles VI of France – it is a parable for the election.

Juliet Barker, historian and author of Agincourt: the King, the Campaign, the Battle missed the Budget speech because she was out of the country, but she came back fired up with indignation at this distortion of her specialist subject.

“I don’t recognise Osborne’s description of Agincourt in any sense at all,” she tells me. “Who is this champion of a united Europe? Charles VI was mad, genuinely insane and incapable of governing France let alone any wider European alliance. There’s nobody from other countries helping the French, so it’s hardly a united Europe against the English invader.

“Yes, there were a few Scottish mercenaries at Agincourt, as in all French armies, but they’re not a significant force and could hardly be called nationalist, since they were an independent nation and had their own king.”

I would say that George Osborne “can hold his manhood cheap while any speaks” who knows their stuff about St Crispin’s Day.

This comedian isn’t funny

Jenny Ross, Green Party candidate in Stalybridge and Hyde, has earned a kicking from the Guido Fawkes website for tweeting “Just found out that Farage has only got one ball… Some people will do anything to emulate their heroes”. The comment is in terrible taste, because Farage lost his missing testicle to cancer. Ross has been billed on Green Party propaganda as an “award-winning comedian” – in which case, you would think she could come up with something more original.

Blind loyalty well disguised

Billy Hayes, leader of the CWU, the union that represents post office workers, is in danger of losing his job. There is a hotly contested election in which Hayes is being challenged by his deputy, Dave Ward, who is running on a platform of “no more blind loyalty to Labour”.

Hayes has the backing of two famous names: Ken Livingstone, who clashed publicly with every Labour leader from Neil Kinnock to Gordon Brown; and Vanessa Redgrave, who was far too left wing for the party. When Ed Miliband proposed to alter Labour’s relationship with the trade unions in 2013, the first union leader to attack his proposals was Billy Hayes. This is “blind loyalty”.

The facts about Wikipedia…

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the deletion of the longest-running Wikipedia prank to be uncovered. On 29 May 2005, somebody concocted an entry about a fake aboriginal deity named Jar’Edo Wens. The name suggests that the culprit’s name may have been Jared Owens, but no one knows. Jar’Edo Wens achieved a mention in a book entitled Atheism and the Case Against Christ, written by a philosophy professor from California University.

California, coincidentally, is the home state of my favourite Wikipedia prankster: Brett Straub, a university student whose name appeared in a doctored entry on The Independent to claim he was one of this newspaper’s founders. His name lingers undeletably in the Leveson report, whose authors lifted the information on The Independent launch from Wikipedia.

Comments