Published November 14, 2016
Pirate MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes were guests on Skavlan, one of Scandinavia’s most popular evening talk shows, last Friday. Their exchanges on the show went from chilly to downright confrontational within the span of ten minutes.
Birgitta was the second guest of the evening on the show, and while the host seemed keen to explore Birgitta’s and the Pirate Party’s positions on a variety of subjects ranging from the US elections to whistleblowers, Fellowes had difficulty restraining himself and seemed compelled to chime in and interrupt Birgitta’s responses on almost every occasion.
First, when Birgitta was asked if she felt she would feel at home in the House of Lords, she replied that she felt more at home with the people, prompting Fellowes to cut her off by explaining that the Lords are really “not a particularly posh lot.”
Second, on the subject of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, when Birgitta said that in both cases, people were “using xenophobia to justify system change, and I find that to be unacceptable”, Fellowes again felt compelled to interrupt and explain that racism and xenophobia actually arises from a “fear of not being heard or taken seriously”.
The breaking point, though, came up during the subject of Wikileaks, and their involvement in the US presidential elections. Birgitta expressed the view that Wikileaks had “gone too far” regarding their involvement in the elections, prompting Fellowes to interrupt yet again to express his personal opinion that he believes Wikileaks reflects “a profound betrayal” and that Assange was a “traitor”, perhaps unaware that Assange is Australian; not American.
When Birgitta attempted to clarify that she felt Wikileaks did some good work “in the early days” from 2009 to 2012, Fellowes again interrupted her to express his opinion that whistleblowers were traitors, which was the final straw for Birgitta.
“Shame on you, shame on you,” she said. “Whistleblowers who blow the whistle on corruption in government and war crimes are not traitors. Shame on you,” effectively bringing that topic of discussion to a screeching halt, prompting applause from the audience.
You can watch the entire conversation below, courtesy of Lára Hanna Einarsdóttir:
For her part, Birgitta took to Facebook the day after the episode aired, saying that she has “never received the kind of response I received for my participation on Skavlan”, which had been mostly positive, adding that what bothered her the most was Fellowes, as “the man pretended to speak on behalf of those who cannot make ends meet, reminding me of the ‘silver spoon men’ in this country, and when he said that whistleblowers on corruption were traitors,” emphasising again that while she felt Wikileaks did important work in the early years, that they went too far during the US presidential elections.