Russell Square Knife Attack – Probably Not Terrorism, But No Grounds For Complacency

russell square crime scene

It appears that last night’s London knife attack was motivated by mental illness rather than terrorism. But it could easily have been otherwise, and some in the media and positions of authority once again proved themselves unwilling to accept the Islamist self-justifications of lone wolf terrorists

In the wake of a gruesome knife attack in Russell Square, London, which left one woman dead and many others injured, Conservative Home’s Paul Goodman is busy arguing at straw men:

In short, Bernard Hogan-Howe is right to warn in relation to another terror attack in Britain that it’s a case of “when, not if”, and it is doubtless necessary for the police to step up their presence.

But it is important to bear in mind that not every assault claimed in the name of Islam was planned by a terror group in Raqqa or elsewhere.

And it is worth remembering that the combination of mental illness, drugs and family breakdown can itself drive crime, and that Islamist ideology is not necessarily a fourth factor.

There’s an Islamist theat, to be sure.  But caution is one thing; panic would be quite another.  The personal risk to most Britons of being caught up in a terror attack is low, at least at present.

Terror is terrifying.  That’s its point – why terrorists carry out terror.  But there’s no need to make it more terrifying than it already is, and every need to keep calm and carry on.

My emphasis in bold.

But of course not every attack claimed in the name of Islam or the Islamic State was planned by an overseas terror group. I don’t know a single person who suggests that they were, and yet time and again we see establishment figures earnestly lecturing us about the blazingly obvious. But just because an attack was not planned from within territory held by the Islamic State does not mean that fundamentalist, radical Islam was not the motivator.

When improved intelligence work makes it harder for would-be terrorist attackers to move across borders or communicate specific plans electronically, ISIS increasingly relies on pumping out a constant feed of propaganda and indoctrination material in the hope and expectation that it will be picked up by the susceptible and used by the recipients to self-radicalise.

This is entirely in line with the directive made by senior Islamic State leader Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who instructs his faithful:

If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.

You can keep calling the people who pick up the Islamist WiFi signal and act upon it “mentally ill” if you want – and some of them may indeed be so. But to look at their actions only through the lens of mental illness while furiously ignoring the religious terrorism aspect out of some craven obeisance to politically correct dogma is to disregard the entire context in which an attack takes place, stripping it of any sense and making it impossible to counter.

Archbishop Cranmer is also on the warpath against those who rushed to disseminate the mental health aspect of the story while withholding other pertinent details:

Perhaps it’s unhelpful to speculate about the ethnicity and religion of the assailant. Perhaps ‘assailant’ is also an unhelpful term if he has significant mental health issues. It was a ‘he’, wasn’t it? Yes, we know the sex of the suspect. And ‘suspect’ is a much better term, even though the police tasered him and currently have him under armed guard. Innocent until proven guilty, and all that. Act of terrorism? No, we can’t go with that: it’s just a ‘classic’ random stabbing – for the moment, anyway. So, we have a male suspect involved in a London stabbing who has “significant” mental health issues which are obviously mitigating. Yes, that’s the story.

Other facts are obviously known. But these truths must be withheld. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for the public to remain “calm and vigilant”. Yes, that’s the message. A 19-year-old man (how do they know his precise age before his name?) with significant mental health problems has murdered a 60-year-old woman and slashed five others, and we must keep calm and carry on. Nothing to see here.

Funny thing, truth. It requires clarity of thought and expression. It derives deep metaphysical speculation and complex judgments, such as those pertaining to religious mania or psychological health, from the most obvious facts and indubitable distinctions. The starting point must always be what is known, with a rational apprehension of how what is known has been made known. Sensibilities change, but the form of facts does not.

The human mind and heart can be moved in various ways, depending on how those facts are presented (or not). The Met and BBC can suggest shadowy lines of thought, and the Mayor of London can issue a command to be calm and vigilant.  But neither can command the mind to move to assent to something, especially if something more is suspected. Is it too much to ask that the establishment bear witness to truth? Or do they presume we have no interest in finding it? Isn’t it rather patronising to withhold it and exhort calmness and vigilance, when that very exhortation releases passions and induces concerns? Vigilant about what? Teenagers with mental health problems? Isn’t that a rather malleable conviction or manipulated truth, not to mention a slander on all who suffer mental health problems? Isn’t the whole truth a far better breastplate against extremism and shield against stereotyping than filtered facts and mediated knowledge?

At the time of publication (12:30PM, Thursday 4 August) it appears that the suspect in custody is a Norwegian citizen of Somali origin. It further appears that there is no evidence thus far of radicalisation, and that the tentative link to terrorism originally spoken of by the Metropolitan Police may not be true. Time, and further investigation, will tell.

But even if this is definitively proved not to be an Islamist attack, a woman is still dead and others are in the hospital. There is nothing to celebrate. And judging by the media and commentariat’s desperately weak understanding of how Islamist terror has adapted to work in an age of hyper vigilance (setting the bar so high that it “doesn’t count” unless personally orchestrated by black-clad jihadists out of Raqqa), there is much to be concerned about in terms of our own readiness and willingness to confront the threat.

Finally, praise must also be given to the armed respondents of the Metropolitan Police, who quickly raced to the scene of a very disturbing crime and managed to subdue the assailant using only a taser. If this attack had happened on the streets of New York or Chicago, the attacker would be in the morgue with about 20 police bullets in him and we would not have the opportunity to learn more about his motives first-hand. And while Britain’s need for armed police is regrettably increasing, we must take care to preserve the spirit (and the rules) which insist that shooting a suspect is the last resort, not the first.


Armed police

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Therapets For Students, And The Downward Definition Of Mental Illness

Therapets - Mental Health - University - Students

The current focus on student mental wellbeing infantilises grown adults, pathologises everyday emotions and trivialises real mental health issues

Earlier this month, our “Tales from the Safe Space” series looked at the way in which mental health is being trivialised and used as a tool to infantilise students on our university campuses – specifically Cardiff University on that occasion.

Now, Spiked (one of the first outlets to sound the alarm about the defining downward of mental health issues) take up the case again, in light of goings on at the Edinburgh University Students’ Association:

For the past year, the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) has been promoting a message of ‘wellbeing is everything’. EUSA has introduced a special mental-health fund, and our president even took a pay cut to boost the totals. Now, after a year of mental-health activism, some of the dangerous effects are being felt. Students are being infantilised and are pathologising normal experiences. Students at council meetings are complaining that they are being ‘intimidated’ by hand-raising or head-nodding. And, surprise surprise, there has been a 75 per cent increase in the demand for counselling.

EUSA has been advertising its new ‘de-stress therapets sessions’. This follows the rising trend of animal therapy on campuses in the US. For example, students at Oberlin College flocked to their Safe Space along with a ‘therapy dog’ after academic Christina Hoff Sommers (‘the factual feminist’) delivered a controversial speech.

Therapy dogs are used worldwide to help those suffering from PTSD. They are also used by carers to assist children with serious autism, and in hospices to help bring joy to those suffering in isolation. Now, therapy dogs are being used to ‘treat’ students suffering from exam stress. Students, no longer trusted to deal with the challenges of academic life, are being treated as if they are suffering from debilitating illness.

And it’s not just therapets. You can also see the wellbeing obsession in ‘self-care’ initiatives, offered at Oxford and elsewhere, where students are encouraged to do finger-painting or bake cupcakes. Or the Safe Space at Manchester, a plush, comfy room where students can retreat to when the ‘triggering’ is just too much. When students aren’t being told they’re mentally ill, they’re being treated like easily upset children.

Therapets. For students. Not for returning veterans who witnessed death, carnage and unbelievable stress close-up while serving our country in uniform. For students.

The mind boggles.

Charlie Peters, University of Edinburgh student and author of the piece, points out the damaging effect that this dumbed-down mass application of mental health treatments is already having in the real world:

The emotionalisation of politics, academia and debate has damaged the intellectual capacity of students. If you ask a student today what they think about a pressing social issue, they’ll tell you how they feel about it. Thinking is no longer important – emotions are. Rationality and reality go out the window when offence-fearing students are asked a difficult question. As for those who deviate from the prevailing groupthink, they tend to answer weakly, or insincerely, so as not to upset the campus thoughtpolice.

But campus hypersensitivity is not only damaging the academic sphere – it is stretching already limited resources and pulling them away from those who are truly suffering. Student therapists are being overworked, and the quality of care is bound to suffer. Queues of students complaining about exams, deadlines and stress are putting a strain on resources to the detriment of those who are genuinely in need.

It is also dangerous – and contrary to the very idea of university – to debate ideas primarily in emotional terms, as students are encouraged to do by the excessively broad focus on mental wellbeing and the cult of Identity Politics.

There is a real element of selfishness at work here. But then perhaps it is no surprise that a generation raised to believe that they are unique and precious snowflakes have difficulty considering the needs of others, or appreciating that by clogging up student mental health services complaining about exam stress or their”trauma” at hearing contradictory ideas in class might actually result in fewer services available for those with, say, depression or bipolar disorder.

As this blog recently remarked:

This is dangerous stuff, inflating good mental health with a regression to a sanitised version of childhood, with face painting and cookies and puppy dog videos. And whatever transitory benefit it may provide to students who are not really mentally ill but are simply stressed or homesick, it will do nothing for – and in fact diverts attention and resources away from – the far smaller number who are genuinely in need of help.

True mental health comes about by building a healthy resilience to the kind of everyday emotional bumps and scrapes which characterise adult life. In the real world, people sometimes have completely contradictory views about fundamental issues, but must nonetheless live, shop and work together.

Safe space policy makes that harder by sending the message that students should not have to so much as glimpse opposing ideas, while the entire cult of Identity Politics is built on the notion of a backbiting Hierarchy of Privilege, where everybody is an oppressor and nearly everyone (except for cis white men at the top of the pyramid) is also oppressed.

Therapets for students. And bouncy castles, and finger-painting, and Play Doh and puppy videos.

Soon these people will have jobs.


Safe Space Notice - 2

Top Image: Queen Margaret University Students’ Union

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 19 – Cardiff Students Hold “Inner Child Day”

Cardiff University Students Union - Inner Child Day - Infantilisation - Safe Space

Good mental health does not mean regressing back into childhood

One of the most insidious things to emerge from the Cult of Identity Politics taking over Anglo-American university campuses is the false equating of good mental health with a state of childhood.

Safe spaces, campus speech codes and trigger warnings all serve to infantilise students, in the belief that if only these young adults are coddled like children and protected from ever encountering a dissenting opinion or a negative word, it might just be possible to preserve their fragile mental equanimity.

One of the most overt recent manifestations of this trend is the “Inner Child Day” recently held at Cardiff University (the same institution whose students were so traumatised by the hateful presence of Germaine Greer on campus last year).

The ad promoting Inner Child Day encouraged Cardiff students to “embrace your inner child with a whole day of free fun in Y Plas in Cardiff University’s SU! Think inflatables, games, face painting and some 90s classics!”. Because apparently university is no longer a place to emerge into adulthood, but rather place to regress back to the habits and mentality of a toddler.

Johanna Williams paints an excruciating picture of the event in an article in Spiked:

It took place in the nightclub of the students’ union building and featured such mental-health managing strategies as biscuit-decorating, dog-petting, face-painting and jumping about on a bouncy castle. Students were able to work towards the holy grail of positive mental health by practising their forward rolls and uploading pictures of their newly ornamented biscuits to social media in return for the approval of their peers.

The nightclub was suitably decorated. There were balloons everywhere to appeal to the six-year-old children just waiting to burst out of the students’ twentysomething bodies. A giant screen at the front of the room showed a woman cradling a miniaturised version of herself as someone would cradle a child. Apparently, the phrase ‘Can your inner-child come out to play?’ was meant ‘to offer hope to sufferers’.

Watching this event unfold was like walking into a perverse version of Alice in Wonderland. Twentysomething adults were catapulting themselves towards a healthier state of mind on the bouncy castle with an abandon that would get them banned from any normal event involving bouncy castles.

This all sounds disturbingly similar to the Safe Space room set aside during a debate at Brown University in Rhode Island, in which students who felt “triggered” by what they heard during a voluntarily attended meeting were offered infantilising consolations such as puppy videos, snacks, soft furnishings and Play Doh, as well as an army of trained counsellors.

Williams concludes:

This attempt to fight insanity with insanity is worrying. The trend towards medicalising everyday moods, to treat, say, the homesick student as someone with a mental-health problem, has led to the creation of a bogus epidemic of mental ill-health on campus. This means that people who suffer from a genuine mental illness, such as schizophrenia, are missing out on support because too much attention is focused elsewhere.

These childish events will do nothing to help students who are genuinely unwell. What’s worse, they’ll make today’s pampered students even less likely to grow up.

Williams is right. This is dangerous stuff, inflating good mental health with a regression to a sanitised version of childhood, with face painting and cookies and puppy dog videos. And whatever transitory benefit it may provide to students who are not really mentally ill but are simply stressed or homesick, it will do nothing for – and in fact diverts attention and resources away from – the far smaller number who are genuinely in need of help.

True mental health comes about by building a healthy resilience to the kind of everyday emotional bumps and scrapes which characterise adult life. In the real world, people sometimes have completely contradictory views about fundamental issues, but must nonetheless live, shop and work together.

Safe space policy makes that harder by sending the message that students should not have to so much as glimpse opposing ideas, while the entire cult of Identity Politics is built on the notion of a backbiting Hierarchy of Privilege, where everybody is an oppressor and nearly everyone (except for cis white men at the top of the pyramid) is also oppressed.

This culture does not produce resilient, well-rounded adults. Rather, it is producing a generation of self-involved, narcissistic adult babies who worship at the altar of their chosen “identity” and demand that everybody else admire their idiosyncrasies, acknowledge their pain and massage their egos on pain of censorship or disciplinary action.

And if none of that stirs you to anger, then at least be outraged by Cardiff University Student Union’s cynical, tawdry trivialisation of mental health, and the suggestion that ten minutes on a bouncy castle and a spot of face painting are the cure for those students who suffer from genuine mental health issues.


Safe Space Notice - 2

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 3 – Pittsburgh Succumbs To Milo Fever

Milo Yiannopoulos - University of Pittsburgh - Free Speech - Safe Space - Identity Politics

Don’t blame conservatives or free speech advocates for endangering student mental health; blame the modern cult of Identity Politics

Latest to fall victim to the scourge of Milo Fever is the University of Pittsburgh, where a scheduled talk by the touring Milo Yiannopoulos brought some adult student protesters to the point of tears.

The university’s own Pitt News reports:

Pitt police officer Scott DuBrosky said he and the other officers working at the event escorted about 17 people — most of them students — from the event for protesting, but that no protesters gave the Pitt police any problems.

He said Pitt police anticipated the highly tense atmosphere at the event and agreed with Pitt administrators before the event to remove those who disrupted Yiannopoulos’ speech.

Pitt police did not remove about 15 students who silently held signs saying, “My friend who was raped needs a safe space,” and, “My friend who is depressed needs a safe space,” throughout the entire event.

Some students left on their own accord — a few of them sobbing.

While the Daily Caller reports on the aftermath of Yiannopoulos’s speech:

But in the aftermath of Yiannopoulos’ visit, many liberal students found themselves struggling to come to terms with an event they deemed “unsafe” and even “violent.” Hundreds of students attended a meeting of Pitt’s student government to express their distress that the event was allowed to go forward in the first place.

“I felt I was in danger, and I felt so many people in that room were in danger,” student Marcus Robinson said of the non-violent event. “This event erased the great things we’ve done … For the first time, I’m disappointed to be at Pitt.”

Robinson faulted school officials for not providing a room next door staffed with counselors that could provide emotional support for students “traumatized” or “invalidated” by Yiannopoulos’ speech.

Many students argued Yiannopoulos had engaged in “hate speech” and therefore should never have been allowed a public platform in the first place. One even said that despite the lack of any physical attacks, the event was still “real violence” against liberal students.

“This is more than hurt feelings, this is about real violence,” said student Claire Matway. “We know that the violence against marginalized groups happens every day in this country. That so many people walked out of that [event] feeling in literal physical danger is not all right.”

There is so much ridiculous in here to unpack, not least:

1. The fact that any student – and recall, these are grown adults with the right to vote and take up arms in defence of their country – should feel in “literal physical danger” as a result of opinions expressed by a guest speaker who at no point advocated or incited discrimination, let alone violence.

2. The fact that a speaker who expresses ideas which go against the prevailing Social Justice orthodoxy can, with only their words, “erase” any of the tangible things which the students may have done in pursuit of their agenda.

3. The persistent, wheedling call for academic institutions to treat their students like an overbearing parent might treat a child, with the demand for a designated safe space room and trained counsellors on standby to treat the walking wounded – mown down in their seats by a hail of wordfire which contradicted or mocked their own values – much as one might have a field hospital behind the front lines in combat, or a Red Cross tent at a music festival.

4. The notion that anybody can be “invalidated” – essentially made to disappear in a puff of smoke, as though they never existed – by the words of another human being.

5. The hysterical and frankly insulting conflation of “violence against marginalized groups [which] happens every day in this country” with the fact that a group of privileged students chose to attend an event at which they heard ideas and opinions contrary to their own. And the supremely self-regarding notion that having one’s views challenged places one on the same spectrum of suffering and injustice as (say) Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown.

There is a real problem – manifesting mostly on American college campuses but creeping inexorably across the Atlantic to infect British universities, too – of young and impressionable students drinking so deeply from the well of Identity Politics and Social Justice that they are in genuine danger of doing themselves real, self-inflicted mental and emotional damage.

I’ve been reading and researching these phenomena for many months now, and I no longer doubt that in their minds, many of these students genuinely believe that by hearing a contrary opinion or a less-than-affirming remark about their life choices, they are incurring real, physical and mental harm.

(Though it is also plainly apparent that many of the more wily students know this Identity Politics scam and “mental safety” trope to be complete hogwash, but nonetheless embrace it as a means of exercising power over their peers and supposed academic supervisors).

But I’ll now readily concede that for many of these infantilised students who are reduced to tears by a voluntarily-attended, non-violent talk by Milo Yiannopolous, they have indeed incurred a trauma of some kind. Though it may seen completely absurd and hysterical to a normal person, to them it is profoundly real. I will accept that much. We only differ as to the cause of this sudden mass vulnerability, and the proper remedy.

They say ban speakers like Milo Yiannopolous and prohibit the things that they say from being spoken aloud on campus, essentially elevating certain people and ideas above debate and criticism. I say that they need to stop doing the thing which is making them – grown adults! – so vulnerable to speech and writing which contradicts their dogma in the first place.

And what makes them so vulnerable is the incessant and obligatory dividing up of student bodies by race and gender and sexuality, and forcibly separating this group of equal students into an artificial hierarchy of privilege and oppression which exists more in their minds than their lived experience on campus. What makes them vulnerable is the false notion that the social justice causes for which they campaign in wider society are anywhere near as prevalent or serious within their cloistered college campuses, when this is manifestly not true.

Take the example of the students of Silliman College at Yale University who were apparently seriously considering transferring away from one of the best universities in the world because they felt that their college Master was not treating them sufficiently like an overbearing parent by dictating which Halloween costumes were permissible for them to wear and which should be banned for being offensive.

As Conor Friedersdorf noted at The Atlantic, these students were blessed to be studying not only at one of the world’s premier academic institutions, but within surroundings of almost unparalleled luxury – including two Steinway grand pianos, a film editing lab and an art gallery for student use – which are utterly unimaginable for millions of people for whom the chance to study at even the lowest-rated and most ramshackle of higher education institutions is nothing but a distant dream.

That’s not to say that instances of racism, sexism, rape and assault do not take place on college campuses, and that it is terrible when they do. But today’s student activists have lost all sense of perspective. For many of them, hearing any narrative which differs in any way from the progressive Identity Politics interpretation of the world in which they marinate is now just as bad as being the victim of a physical or mental assault.

And we should no longer doubt them at their word. Anybody who is able to work themselves into a tearful tizzy at the sight and sound of Milo Yiannopoulos, perceiving themselves to be in “literal physical danger” at his presence on their university campus, clearly is acutely mentally vulnerable in some way.

But this vulnerability is utterly self-inflicted, and is entirely a consequence of the victim having delved so deep into the cult of Identity Politics now peddled on campus, and Tumblr-style Social Justice culture beyond, that any sense of perspective or capacity for rational thought is completely destroyed.

And for their own sake and ours, these fragile people need to leave their places of academic instruction and return home to their parents, because frankly, they are starting to create a very unproductive – if not yet unsafe – space indeed for those students who went to university naively expecting that they would be attending a place of learning and intellectual debate.


Safe Space Notice - 2

Top Image: The Pitt News – “Conservatism and controversy: Milo Yiannopoulos speaks at Pitt

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The Daily Toast: Ken Livingstone, Mental Health And The New Politics

Ken Livingstone.png

Ken Livingstone’s attack on Kevan Jones’ depression is typical of the hard activist Left. They are happy to use the poor, the sick and other minorities as cynical campaign props, but hate it when they dare to speak for themselves

Today’s Daily Toast goes to James Kirkup for his furious, relentless evisceration of Ken Livingstone in the Telegraph.

Some context: When Red Ken was unexpectedly appointed to co-lead the Labour Party’s upcoming defence policy review (bringing his open minded attitude toward vital questions like Trident renewal), the Labour MP Kevan Jones – who had previously spoken out in a parliamentary debate, attempting to reduce the stigma of mental illness by revealing his own struggles – raised political concerns about whether Livingstone was the right person for the job.

And in response to Kevan Jones airing his political concerns, Livingstone responded with an extraordinarily personal attack:

Mr Livingstone told the Mirror: “I think he might need some psychiatric help. He’s obviously very depressed and disturbed.

“He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.”

So this is the New Politics that we were promised with the Jeremy Corbyn era – more of the same coarse, unbecoming personal insults that we have always had.

It’s no surprise. Because many on the Left see themselves as the only virtuous people in town – the sole custodians of the nation’s morals – they think that somehow it “doesn’t count” when they say rude, aggressive, condescending, racist or sexist things. They believe are allowed to get away with it because they spend their careers policing the debate and controlling the language, casting out anyone else who says or thinks the wrong thing. Just like a corrupt cop might consider themselves above the law, so the egotistical leftist believes that they have carte blanche to cross any of the lines that they draw to constrain the rest of us.

All of which makes Kirkup’s takedown of Livingstone so satisfying – and worthy of the Daily Toast:

I believe in civilised debate and generally try to avoid throwing around personal abuse when writing about politics. But there’s no way of being polite or restrained about this. Ken Livingstone’s words are vile, a poisonous act that would leave him consumed by shame if he had a shred of decency.

Yet he’s standing by those comments. He told the London Evening Standard: “It doesn’t matter what disorders he’s got, he doesn’t have the right to be rude … to be constantly undermining Jeremy Corbyn.”

This is utterly hateful. Mr Livingstone he hasn’t just grotesquely insulted Mr Jones, denigrating his suffering and his bravery, he has sent a brutal message to anyone else who suffers mental illness: stay quiet or you’re fair game.

Even if he wasn’t part of a leadership team that had so piously promised a nicer, kinder politics and to embrace open political debate, Mr Livingstone’s behaviour would be disgusting. The staggering hypocrisy involved just compounds his disgrace.

And if Mr Corbyn does not act quickly and firmly, by dropping Ken Livingstone into the deep dark hole of political obscurity where cockroaches like him belong, he deserves to share every bit of that disgrace.

Ken Livingstone was eventually forced to apologise for his behaviour, but was unable to stay contrite and was soon walking back his apology with justifications and angry asides to journalists.

The Labour Party – and the British Left in general – can’t have it both ways. They can’t spend half the time prancing around pretending to be high-minded emissaries of the New Politics, holding hands and singing Kumbaya, and then spend the other half acting like vicious thugs, smearing people because of their mental health conditions or whipping their activists up into a Tory-hating, phlegm-lobbing rage. It’s time to pick a side.

And yet Ken Livingstone is perfectly entitled to say mean or ignorant things about his fellow MPs in public if he chooses. That much is a fundamental free speech issue, so let’s see no talk about Parliament needing to be a “safe space” where coddled MPs need to be praised and affirmed at all times.

However, the question here is not one of free speech, but one of hypocrisy. Ken Livingstone and much of the virtue-signalling Left love to use the mentally ill, the poor and other groups as cynical campaign props, showering them with ostentatious sympathy in order to make themselves look good and pick up votes. But as soon as one of those same people becomes a threat – whether it’s a former welfare recipient questioning the welfare state or a fellow MP simply raising a political objection – suddenly the tribal thuggishness comes out and the Left’s feigned concern for the disadvantaged is revealed as the sham that it is.

That’s the real story here. Yes, Ken Livingstone’s behaviour was boorish and inexcusable, but he’s a left wing bruiser and unlikely to change his ways any time soon. But this incident was just the most high profile recent example of behaviour that is not uncommon on the Left: behind the friendly faces, the talk of inclusivity and a new, kinder politics, too often there lurks a hardened, egotistical ideologue who always responds to criticism by lashing out.

So by all means let’s haul Red Ken over the coals – certainly Corbyn should publicly condemn Livingstone if the Labour Party’s newfound passion for mental health is to be taken seriously – but let’s not pretend that this incident is anything other than standard behaviour from a certain segment of the activist Left.

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