The self-styled enfant terrible of the new radical left, Ms Laurie Penny, has taken her one-woman revolution to the heart of the establishment. Yesterday, she caused quite the ruckus at the Sunday Times Education Festival, hosted at Wellington College on a panel with David Starkey. As well as being banned from the speakers dinner at the behest of the Sunday Times, Penny later alerted her Twitter followers to the fact that ‘violent old thug‘ David Starkey had ‘attacked‘ her ‘on stage’. ‘That’s what racists do when you call them out on their bigotry’ she Tweeted. ‘Bit shaken but I’ll be ok.’
Penny’s version of events was soon questioned, not least by chairman of the panel David Goodhart: ‘You weren’t attacked, Starkey defended himself from your silly claims that he’s a tax-avoiding racist, you messed up a good debate.’
So what happened? Witnesses present tell me that Penny questioned Starkey about his taxes and then went on ‘an acrimonious rant’ culminating in a bizarre accusation of racism. Starkey objected. There is apparently a video of the incident, but the festival organisers have been reluctant to release it. What does seem clear is that there nothing “violent” about this attack.
As more people questioned her version of events, she conceded on Twitter: ‘Just for clarification – Starkey didn’t actually touch me, I was sitting, he came and stood over me, jabbing a finger in my face, shouting.’ Those pesky facts, eh Laurie? Who could have misconstrued the words ‘violent thug’ and ‘attack’?