Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
18 June 2020

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab thinks taking a knee for George Floyd is “from the Game of Thrones”

The man who represents Britain on the world stage is oblivious to the meaning behind an international protest symbol.

By Media Mole

Dominic Raab, Minister of the Crown, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, member of one of the four Great Offices of State, thinks taking a knee in tribute to George Floyd originated “from the Game of Thrones”.

Yes. Asked on talkRadio whether – like the Premier League football players before their first lockdown matches last night – he would take a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, Raab rambled:

“Do you know what? I understand this sense of frustration and restlessness which is driving the Black Lives Matters movement. I’ve got to say on this ‘taking the knee’ thing, which, I don’t know, maybe it’s got a broader history, but it seems to be taken from the Game of Thrones, feels to me like a symbol of subjugation and subordination, rather than one of liberation and emancipation. But I understand people feel differently about it, so it’s a matter of personal choice.”

When presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer pushed him on whether he’d do it himself, Raab replied:

“I take the knee for two people: the Queen and the missus when I asked her to marry me… by the way, she disputes that. I had this conversation with her last night – I’m sure I did but we’d obviously had too much champagne at the time but I’m certain I did.”

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Simpering, blind patriotism with a comforting dash of patriarchy: the perfect response.

Content from our partners
The shrinking road to net zero
The tree-planting misconception
Is your business ready for corporate climate reporting?

Your mole is sure it doesn’t need to explain to readers but just in case: the kneeling stance seen at Black Lives Matter protests throughout the world stems from the American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem before matches in 2016, in silent protest against police brutality and racial inequality in the US. Other players joined him.

The protest symbol has taken on added poignancy in recent weeks, as protestors kneel for the same length of time – around nine minutes – as the police officer who knelt on the neck of Floyd, the death of whom led to anti-racism protests worldwide.

Strange that the UK’s Foreign Secretary is more up on a fantasy TV series than the biggest international story of the moment – and his throwaway comment about his wife shows that he had been prepping answers to questions about taking a knee, but even then didn’t think to look it up.

Watch the whole interview here: