The Oxford English Dictionary defines "bigot" as an "obstinate and intolerant adherent of a creed or view". On the British political landscape today, the greatest obstinacy and the most unthinking intolerance comes from the Left, or at least that part of it which pats itself on the back for retaining its "principles" just as it continues to turn its face away from wave upon wave of disastrous failure, and the wholesale discrediting of the very tenets of its belief system.
Some of the more colourful of its number even go on to become supposedly beloved popular figures. Tony Benn has made a latter-day career out of it. Likewise, the film director Ken Loach, 73 years old and still churning them out (his latest, Looking for Eric, was released last month) has reached some sort of hallowed position within what we might laughingly call the creative community. He is wheeled in to talk about the miners' strike on BBC2's Newsnight. The French cognoscenti adore him. For those for whom his 1969 movie Kes remains a childhood classic, a sort of cinematic Catcher in the Rye, the Warwickshire-born Loach is probably already a national treasure.
The Respect Party-supporting director is certainly obstinate. He continues undaunted in his quest to make the British "confront their imperialist past". Quite how intolerant he is was illustrated just last month, when he managed to exert enough pressure on the Edinburgh International Film Festival for it to return to the Israeli Embassy a £300 grant, which had been intended to enable Tel Aviv University graduate Tali Shalom Ezer to travel to Scotland for a screening of her film, Surrogate.
It didn't matter that the film in question was a romance set in a sex-therapy clinic, which made no reference to war or politics, nor that it recently won the award for best film at an international women's film festival in Israel. For Loach, the fact that Shalom Ezer was an Israeli was apparently enough. He urged filmgoers to boycott the festival after pro-Palestinian activists protested against the giving of the grant. He has not commented further on the matter and presumably remains totally untroubled by what was a blatant attempt to censor the work of a fellow filmmaker. His intervention was condemned by some critics, but the Festival organisers went along with it, citing in a statement the fact that Loach spoke "on behalf of the film community".