Piers Morgan has watched in horror as, instead of abating, the zealotry of the woke movement has ratcheted up during the Covid crisis.
In his characteristically pugnacious new book, being serialised by The Mail on Sunday, he records this pernicious trend in the form of a diary of 2020…
Monday February 3
Last night’s Bafta Awards turned into a self-loathing parade as every acting nomination went to white actors.
As he accepted his award for Best Actor, Joaquin Phoenix raged: ‘I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here. I’m ashamed that I’m part of the problem. It is the obligation of the people that have created, perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it.’
Of course, the best way he could have expressed his outrage would have been to refuse to fly across the Atlantic to accept the Bafta. Not least because of his well-documented desire to save the planet. He’s not wrong about the diversity issue, though.
For many years, the Oscars has sunk deeper into an abyss of politically correct claptrap. It used to be a dazzlingly glamorous celebration of the best of Hollywood, but it’s become an increasingly tedious platform for actors to preach about their views on life, writes Piers Morgan
On air today, I asked Andi Peters, the black TV presenter who produces and fronts all our competitions on Good Morning Britain and other ITV shows: ‘Where is the diversity? What is going wrong?’
Andi replied: ‘Fundamentally there aren’t enough people of colour working in our industry.’ Then he looked around and said: ‘Am I, or am I not, the only person of colour standing in this studio? Yes, I am. So there just aren’t enough people working in this industry to then be nominated based on their talent.’
I was so admiring of his balls for speaking out, and what he said made me think hard. I hadn’t noticed the studio was all-white because it hadn’t seemed strange to me.
True racial equality will only come when white people accept that we generally have more advantages in life than black people – and do something about it.
Sunday February 9
For many years, the Oscars has sunk deeper into an abyss of politically correct claptrap. It used to be a dazzlingly glamorous celebration of the best of Hollywood, but it’s become an increasingly tedious platform for actors to preach about their views on life.
This year’s event was a particularly excruciating affair, which reached a peak when self-righteous vegan Joaquin Phoenix – yes, him again – ordered us all to stop drinking milk.
‘We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow,’ he said, with tears welling up, ‘and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.’
I burst out laughing. Not because I’m a callous person who doesn’t care about the plight of calves. But because of all the things for an actor to lecture the world about, the oppression of cows for their milk is perhaps the most ridiculous.
Joaquin was very keen to point out that he’s worn the same Stella McCartney tuxedo throughout this year’s awards season to help save the planet. Like many celebrity do-gooders, he also flies in fuel-guzzling private planes to climate-change marches where he browbeats us about our carbon footprint.
The ‘preach one thing, do another’ theme continued with Natalie Portman, who wore a cape with the names of all the female directors who weren’t nominated for an Oscar.
A fine gesture, yet Portman’s own production company had only ever hired one female director to make any of its films – and that was Portman herself.
‘All women are superheroes,’ bellowed Sigourney Weaver, indignantly. But they’re not. With all due respect to my opposite gender, some women are awful. Just as some men – and I realise this will shock and dismay radical feminists – are good people.
The Oscars propagated this hyperbolic pro-women guff all night to mask the fact that the awards don’t practise what they preach. In their 92-year history, only five women have made it on to the Best Director shortlist, and only one – Kathryn Bigelow – has won the award.
Like Bafta, the Academy bangs on about diversity, yet had a virtually all-white nominee list in every acting category.
This year, it ordered a procession of ‘diverse’ performers to proclaim: ‘I’m proud to be standing here as a black, queer artist!’
It smacked of desperation, of an organisation full of old white male dinosaurs who I bet couldn’t care less about delivering on diversity but don’t want to be accused of being sexist or racist.
Saturday February 15
I was having breakfast when a WhatsApp message pinged from my son Stan. ‘Caroline Flack found dead.’ It quickly emerged that my friend took her own life at her London flat after being briefly left alone by a friend who’d been staying with her.
I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. This is what I had feared might happen while she had been awaiting trial on a charge of assaulting her boyfriend.
I was having breakfast when a WhatsApp message pinged from my son Stan. ‘Caroline Flack found dead’
Caroline was a whip-smart, warm, funny, complicated and incredibly likeable bundle of energy with a tempestuous, tabloid-headline-grabbing love life and a penchant for hard partying.
I had been due to see her at my annual Christmas party in my local pub, but on the day I received a text: ‘Don’t think I’ll make it tonight. I can’t even leave the hotel, let alone go home.
‘This has been the worst time of my life. And for what? Throwing a phone in anger. It’s so hard for one person to take this all on.’
She’d lost the job she loved, wasn’t allowed to see or talk to the man she loved, and was facing the very public humiliation of what would undoubtedly have been a very sensationalised court case.
‘Oh my God, this is horrendous,’ I tweeted.
‘Caroline was a fun, bright & sparky person whose whole world collapsed recently, both professionally & personally.’
The reaction to me saying this was fast, furious and vicious. The court of public opinion instantly delivered another verdict: I was to blame for Caroline’s suicide.
‘Spare us your shock Piers,’ said some random tweeter. ‘You are one of the many d***heads that cause SO much pain, learn from this and BE F****** KIND.’
It’s absolutely true that Caroline had endured a barrage of tremendously negative media and social media attention since her arrest. I also accept that, as a former tabloid editor, I published many negative stories about other celebrities caught up in similar scrapes, so I don’t have entirely clean hands in this regard.
But Caroline was a friend and I had nothing to do with her death, so the ferocious outpouring of abuse suggesting I did is as wrong as it is hurtful.
Sunday, February 16
Awoke at 4am after a fitful night’s sleep and made the mistake of turning on Twitter to see a further bombardment of abuse aimed at me for ‘killing Caroline’.
Normally, abuse from troll idiots flies off me like water off the proverbial duck’s back. But this time, it is getting to me. It’s so particularly vile and personal, and based on utter lies. I feel peculiarly raw and fried – shocked and upset by Caroline’s death, and sickened at being blamed for it.
Actress Jameela Jamil, mental-health and body-image activist and self-proclaimed ‘feminist- in-progress’, has led the blame-game charge, tweeting: ‘It was only a matter of time before the media and the prolonged social media dogpile, hers lasted for MONTHS, pushed someone completely over the edge. Rest in Peace Caroline Flack.’
Jamil also called for the Government to launch an urgent inquiry into ‘the British press and their practices’.
As I read this, I had a sudden memory of an Instagram direct message exchange Caroline and I had about Jamil a few months ago. It was after Jamil attacked Caroline’s plastic-surgery-themed Channel 4 show The Surjury without having even seen it, accusing her of being involved in something that would ‘prey on people’s insecurities’.
This led to so many of Jamil’s one million followers bombarding Caroline with abuse that Caroline messaged me to say: ‘I’m struggling with Jameela, the hate she aims at me…’
Yet here is the same Jameela Jamil leading a campaign to make the media accountable for Caroline’s death. The brazen hypocrisy is staggering. And repulsive.
Monday, February 24
Harvey Weinstein was convicted today of rape and will almost certainly spend the rest of his life behind bars. It’s been extraordinary to watch someone I knew well for many years, one of the most powerful and successful forces in Hollywood, crash and burn in such appalling ignominy and disgrace.
Meryl held her heart and blew him a kiss. In that moment, Harvey Weinstein was King of Hollywood
There’s no defence for the sickening way he treated so many women. Yet there’s a lot of hypocrisy surrounding the way Hollywood has now turned its back on him.
I remember being at his very exclusive pre-Oscars dinner a few years ago and seeing A-listers such as Meryl Streep, Bono, Oprah Winfrey, Robert De Niro, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles fawning all over him.
At the end of the night, Harvey took the microphone and said: ‘There are only two things you have to answer to in life – God and Meryl Streep. Thank you and goodnight.’ Everyone roared.
Meryl held her heart and blew him a kiss. In that moment, Harvey Weinstein was King of Hollywood.
But there’s always been a shockingly complacent attitude to morality in Tinseltown, where the bar for acceptable behaviour seems entirely conditional on a star’s success and ability to make others successful.
Take his great friend Meryl, for example. Streep, eventually, after four days of silence, described the revelations as ‘disgraceful’ and said they ‘appalled those of us whose work he championed’.
Then she insisted: ‘One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. I didn’t know about these offences. I did not know about his settlements with actresses and colleagues. I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts.’
Fine words, but how do they sit with Streep’s public displays of support for another notorious Hollywood sex abuser, Roman Polanski, who fled America for France in 1978, hours before he was due to be sentenced for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor?
In 2003, Polanski won Best Director at the Oscars, and leading the applause was Meryl Streep, who sprang to her feet to give him a standing ovation.
Harvey Weinstein was convicted today of rape and will almost certainly spend the rest of his life behind bars. It’s been extraordinary to watch someone I knew well for many years, one of the most powerful and successful forces in Hollywood, crash and burn in such appalling ignominy and disgrace
Now, you might think that moralistic Hollywood would have revolted against this sickening fugitive child rapist.
This is the same Hollywood, after all, that led the global outrage against Donald Trump when a tape emerged of him talking in a lewd, disgraceful manner about how his celebrity status enabled him to grab women ‘by the p****’.
Meryl Streep was almost as shocked and offended by Trump’s behaviour as she now says she is by her once great friend Weinstein’s. ‘Evil prospers when good men do nothing… ain’t that the truth,’ she said at the Golden Globes in 2017.
The truth is that Weinstein was able to get away with what he did for so long because Hollywood didn’t really give a damn about powerful men abusing young women.
That’s why Hollywood people cheered Polanski and still financed and starred in his movies for decades after he fled justice.
Fine words, but how do they sit with Streep’s public displays of support for another notorious Hollywood sex abuser, Roman Polanski, above, who fled America for France in 1978, hours before he was due to be sentenced for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor?
Tuesday, February 25
Yorkshire Tea has urged people to ‘try to be kind’ because it was viciously trolled after Chancellor Rishi Sunak posted a pre-Budget photo of himself with a big bag of the tea. It prompted a series of angry messages from Twitter users saying they were going to boycott the brand.
‘Well, that’s the kiss of f****** death to that brand now,’ raged one. ‘You can tell a lot about a company by the people that endorse it,’ spat another.
Incredibly, there were also furious abusive calls to the Harrogate-based company’s office. In response, it said: ‘So it’s been a rough weekend. On Friday, the Chancellor shared a photo of our tea. Politicians do that sometimes (Jeremy Corbyn did it in 2017). We weren’t asked or involved – and we said so the same day. Lots of people got angry with us all the same. We’ve spent the last three days answering furious accusations and boycott calls.’
I read all this with sinking despair. What the hell is happening to our country when a tea brand comes under such an attack through no fault of its own?
It sadly reaffirms my fear that we’ve lost all sense of proportion and perspective.
Friday, March 6
Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd has been no-platformed by students half an hour before she was due to speak at Oxford University about her experiences of being a Minister for Women and Equalities. Rudd condemned her treatment as ‘badly judged and rude’ and urged the students to ‘stop hiding and start engaging’.
I’d have gone a lot further if they tried to pull this stunt on me. Surely the whole point of university is to have your own opinions challenged, and to challenge other people’s opinions – not ban anyone whose opinions you don’t like? Why have our students become such a bunch of spineless snowflakes?
Universities used to be places where contrary opinions were not just encouraged but considered essential to a student’s education. Somewhere that liberalism – discourse – was embraced and championed, and where freedom of speech was celebrated.
Now the only permitted opinions in universities are those that the woke brigade have deemed permissible. If you deviate from these in any way, you risk being shamed, abused, no-platformed and silenced.
Monday, March 9
As a kid, I loved The Wombles. Author Elisabeth Beresford’s pointy-nosed, burrow-dwelling furry creatures were the first real eco-warriors, collecting and recycling rubbish and demonstrating respect for each other and the planet.
Now they’re being brought back in a computer-generated version and, inevitably, they’ve been woked, with some of the Wombles having darker skin tones, not just the original orange and grey tones, to make them ‘more relatable’ and ‘inclusive’. But Wombles aren’t real, they’re not humans, so why do they need to be made more ‘relatable’?
This is yet another one of those nonsensical diversity box-ticking decisions that make no sense, and which I’m sure nobody has ever demanded. It also makes a mockery of real diversity issues and the undeniable need to make many aspects of society more ‘relatable’ and ‘inclusive’.
Monday, March 16
Having seemingly, finally, woken up to the threat from coronavirus, Boris Johnson announced new measures to combat Covid-19, including a directive that if anyone in a household shows symptoms, the whole household immediately goes into a 14-day quarantine.
My Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid rang this evening. ‘I’m self-isolating from you,’ she announced.
Notwithstanding our permanently simmering on-screen tension, this seemed a rather dramatic deterioration in our TV marriage. ‘Something I said?’ I asked.
‘No. One of my sons has got a persistent cough, and under the new rule, we’ll all have to quarantine.’
‘Does he have the virus?’
‘I don’t know because he’s not sick enough to warrant a test, and there’s no way of finding out without a test.’
Wednesday, March 18
I’ve often wondered how the anxiety-stricken ‘millennial’ (born between 1981 and 1996) and ‘centennial’ (born after 1996) generations would cope with a real crisis.
Well, now I don’t have to wonder because it’s happening. And while some of my younger earthlings are being perfectly stoic and sensible, others are behaving like complete and utter cretins, like the reckless twerps flocking to bars on St Patrick’s Day across America, when even Ireland shut down every pub in the country.
Thursday, March 19
‘Coronavirus is a disaster for feminism,’ screamed a headline by writer Helen Lewis in the US magazine The Atlantic. Covid-19 will ‘send many couples back to the 1950s’, she argued, because the main burden of responsibility for looking after the home and kids if we enter a prolonged lockdown will fall to women. ‘Many fathers will undoubtedly step up,’ she mused, ‘but that won’t be universal.’
I was struck by her certainty about what men will do. Imagine if I’d written that ‘many mothers will undoubtedly step up but that won’t be universal’; I’d have been rightly accused of sweeping sexist, misogynist generalisation.
Lewis’s piece made me think seriously about feminism. I consider myself to be a feminist. I believe 100 per cent in a woman’s right to full gender equality and the principle that men and women should be treated exactly the same, politically, economically, legally and socially, and afforded the same opportunities. Yet it’s time women worked out which feminist role models do their cause a service or a disservice.
The absolute nadir of modern feminism, for me, came when Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski – two of the most followed women on social media – tweeted a topless selfie of themselves in a ladies’ loo as they stuck up their middle finger. It was, according to them, a shining expression of liberating, female sexual freedom.
To me, it looked like a couple of fame-hungry chancers flaunting their naked flesh to make money. I have no problem with that, but please don’t pretend it has anything to do with fighting the cause of gender equality.
‘RIP feminism,’ I tweeted, posting the image next to a picture of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. This ignited a firestorm of indignation from women across the globe.
‘Nude selfies ’til I die!’ said Ms Kardashian.
What a magnificently empowering statement to rally the female gender! Right up there with Pankhurst’s demand 100 years ago to be given the right to vote. Or perhaps not.
Friday, March 20
I had hoped the coronavirus might compel celebrities to quit the virtue-signalling for a bit, given the real stars now are health workers risking their lives to save ours. But, sadly, the opposite has happened.
Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot decided that what the world needs is her and a bunch of famous friends, including Natalie Portman, Will Ferrell and Amy Adams, singing a diabolically tuneless version of John Lennon’s Imagine from their homes. A song that pictures a world without borders or possessions, sung by a bunch of multi-millionaire stars from within their heavily guarded mansions.
This pandemic is already exposing an uncomfortable truth for celebrities: nobody gives a damn about them when people are fearful for their lives or losing loved ones. It’s also revealed just how fake so many are.
These shameless, self-absorbed antics aren’t about trying to help other people, they’re about helping prop up their brands when they can’t do what they normally do to maintain their lucrative star status.
But this won’t stop their virtue-signalling claptrap.
Friday, March 27
An astonishing, tumultuous, unnerving day. First it was announced that Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus, then a few hours later that Matt Hancock has, too, and that Professor Chris Whitty, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, has self-isolated, fearing he also may have it.
News of Boris’s diagnosis lit up Twitter, and the troll cesspit began gleefully celebrating the fact he had the virus and hoping it kills him. It shows that for all the #BeKind b******t since Caroline Flack’s suicide, many have learned nothing.
Sunday, April 5
Tonight, the Queen addressed the nation. And in just five short minutes, Her Majesty gave the greatest speech of her life.
It was eloquent, powerful, evocative and perfectly pitched – thanking health workers for risking their lives to save ours, and the public for (largely) obeying lockdown rules, but also urging all of us to dig deep into our individual reservoirs of stoic strength to get us collectively through this endurance test.
This is Queen-speak for: ‘Stop being so damn selfish!’
She ended with this rallying cry: ‘We should take comfort that while we have more still to endure, better days will return; we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.’
I felt a tear well up, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone as social media instantly exploded with emotional praise.
‘A magnificent speech from a magnificent lady,’ I tweeted as soon as the address finished. ‘Thank you, Your Majesty – this was your finest moment as our Monarch.’ And I meant it.
© Piers Morgan, 2020
Abridged extract from Wake Up, by Piers Morgan, published by HarperCollins on October 15 at £20. To order a copy for £17, with free delivery, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193 before October 11.