Ben Harris-Quinney fails in attempt at comedy

Ah the old having it both ways ploy – pretending you’re being “ironic” while making a sexist joke. You get to make the sexist joke, and you get to pretend to be not-sexist by claiming it was ironic. Like Ben Harris-Quinney.

Kate Smurthwaite appeared alongside Ben Harris-Quinney on LBC radio last night – but moments before the pair went live on air the political adviser took to Twitter to comment: ‘Shame they haven’t got me a real comedian. We all know women aren’t funny!!!’

So funny. So fresh, much edgy, very rebel.

When Smurthwaite  hit back at the ‘pre-show misogyny’ Harris-Quinney told her to ‘lighten up’ – and later claimed he was being ironic.

Of course he did!

The comic said she was ‘sorely tempted to walk’ from the interview over the tweet but eventually decided to continue.

But their clash continued after the show, with Harris-Quinney, chairman of The Bow Group, tweeting that their encounter confirmed that ‘comedians CANNOT take jokes.’

Smurthwaite challenged his defence of irony, saying: ‘So you were joking that all Tories are NOT sexist bellends by being a Tory and pretending to be a sexist bellend?’

Harris-Quinney hit back: ‘I see you’ve gone for pretending to be unbelievably uptight.’

More fresh daring novel original cutting-edge stuff! Never seen that before – a smug git belittling a woman and then calling her “uptight” when she doesn’t lie still and take it.

‘Of by “unbelievably uptight” you mean “not prepared to let sexism go unchallenged” then yes, that is me, definitely me,’ Smurthwaite added.

But Harris-Quinney responded: ‘In today’s society you can certainly choose to be offended by everything, but it’s childish, weak, narrow minded and meaningless.’

But actually directly insulting an actual person you’re about to do a tv gig with – that’s grown-up and strong and broad-minded and profound.

The ‘lighten up’ comment could be seen to echo David Cameron’s controversial 2011 Commons exchange when he told Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Angela Eagle to ‘calm down dear’

Harris-Quinney has worked on foreign policy in both the UK and European Parliaments and has been on the council of The Bow Group  since 2009. Founded in 1951, it is Britain’s oldest right-wing think tank and aims to ‘to provide an intellectual home to conservatives in the United Kingdom’.

All 13 figures featured on the ‘people’ section of the group’s website are male, including former Cabinet Ministers Lords Howe, Tebbit and Lamont, and historian David Starkey, who are all patrons of the group.

Calm down, dear, it’s only women.

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