Downing Street demands apology after Jeremy Paxman calls David Cameron 'complete idiot'

The Newsnight veteran is unhappy at Cameron's take on next year's first world war centenary

Jeremy Paxman, the combative Newsnight anchor, is at the centre of yet another row after calling the Prime Minister a “complete idiot” for his First World War centenary plans.

Asked about the forthcoming events next year, Mr Paxman said the PM had likened the commemorations to last last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

He said he was ‘troubled’ by Mr Cameron “talking about how millions of pounds were going to be spent marking this anniversary” and the fact that he had “compared it with the celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee.”

Speaking to the BBC chat show host Graham Norton, Mr Paxman said: “Therefore people get the idea that somehow this is going to be celebrated. Well, only a complete idiot would celebrate such a calamity.

“Three quarters of a million men never came back to this country. Millions of men served. Millions of men were wounded mentally and physically. No one would celebrate that. It was just Cameron’s clumsy use of language.”

It is believed that Mr Paxman was referring to a speech the Prime Minister gave in October 2012 at the Imperial War Museum in London; a speech he used to announce that more than £50 million had been allocated for next year’s commemoration of the outbreak of the war.

But a senior Downing Street aide, Rob Wilson MP, has written to the BBC Director-General Lord Hall demanding an apology from the long-serving Newsnight presenter.

According to the MailOnline, Mr Wilson wrote: “Mr Paxman should make a full and public apology for his comments. He should make it clear to BBC viewers and licence fee payers that his remarks were inaccurate and ill-founded.

“This sneering and aggressive approach is one of the reasons many people are put off politics.”

The veteran presenter, famous for his forthright views and somewhat belligerent interview style, is used to controversies - he was criticised by the deputy PM Nick Clegg last week for being “sneering about politics”, while at the same time making a good living from Westminster.

And he was also attacked for admitting he once did not vote because the choices were so “unappetising”.

In an interview with the Radio Times he said: “At the next election we shall have a choice between the people who've given us five years of austerity, the people who left us this mess, and the people who signed public pledges that they wouldn't raise student fees, and then did so – the most blatant lie in recent political history.”

Mr Paxman had recently given the comedian Russell Brand a hard time during a Newsnight interview because the comic “can't be arsed to vote”.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We have not yet received Mr Wilson's letter but when we do we will respond in due course.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project