‘Vile Misogynist Abuse’ Or Harmless Political Skulduggery?

hatchet

Theresa May is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – she does not need defending against George Osborne’s non-existent misogyny by an army of sanctimonious professional offence-takers

Until today’s heinous (but thankfully largely unsuccessful) terror attack on the London Underground, much of this week’s political chatter has been dominated by a lengthy profile of George Osborne in Esquire magazine.

The rather gushing article detailed the various ways in which the former Chancellor of the Exchequer was seeking to leverage (or abuse) his position as editor of the Evening Standard to exact political revenge on former colleagues who had previously crossed his path:

At a little after 6.30, nearly every weekday morning, George Osborne — 46 years old, tall, rich, boyish, tieless — takes the bus from Notting Hill in west London, where he lives, to Kensington High Street, where he works, orders his breakfast to take away from Leon, arrives at the marbled and airy headquarters of the London Evening Standard, takes the lift to the second floor, enters his corner office, and sets about destroying his political enemies.

Following this riveting introduction there follows a lengthy and somewhat depressing account of exactly how Osborne came to land the position of Editor despite having no journalistic background, and the new direction in which he is taking the newspaper.

But this is the passage which stirred particular controversy:

Osborne seems to reserve his choicest weapons for Theresa May, the beleaguered prime minister. On his first day as editor, the front page of the Standard announced “Brussels twists knife on Brexit [as] EU chief mocks PM May with her own ‘Strong and Stable’ leadership slogan”. The attacks on May have become only more intense since then. (One clinical sentence in a Standard editorial from 21 June simply read: “Enough of this nonsense.”) Osborne’s animus against May is complicated in origin — personal, political, ideological, tactical — but purely felt. When I met him at the Standard this past spring, he was polite enough about the prime minister. But according to one staffer at the newspaper, Osborne has told more than one person that he will not rest until she “is chopped up in bags in my freezer”.

To any sane person, this is clearly a political threat, not a serious threat of impending physical violence against the prime minister. But one would not get this impression judging by the outrage from many politicians and journalists, who sought to fold Osborne’s case of sour grapes into a broader narrative about online abuse and violence against women.

Labour’s Chris Bryant was quick off the mark, declaring that Osborne was clearly a misogynist, the Huffington Post reported:

During a debate on barriers for women entering Parliament on Wednesday, Labour’s Chris Bryant said he should apologise.

“It’s that kind of language, which I think is misogynistic in its basis, which should be done away with,” he added.

This, of course, conforming to the Left’s new working definition of misogyny, which can basically be described as “any negative statement about a woman, regardless of whether or not it actually concerns her gender, made by somebody we dislike or wish to discredit”.

Even Tory MP Nadine Dorries got in on the act, ranting to a WhatsApp chat for fellow Conservative MPs:

I’m sorry but Osborne’s vile, and I think sexist language towards the PM has now crossed the line. He’s either going the way of James Chapman, or he’s become a security risk.

Yes, Nadine Dorries is literally positing that George Osborne has either become mentally unbalanced or is flirting with the idea of committing an act of political terrorism. Let that sink in for a few moments.

And is anybody else getting sick of the word “vile” being appended to every object of criticism as the default go-to word of condemnation? Can we not have a little more variety in our self-righteous denunciations, at least? George Orwell would surely have a thing or two to say about our rote, unthinking repetition of the same tedious adjective.

Dorries continues:

He would never say these things of a man. Won’t be happy until she’s chopped into bits in a bag in my freezer. Dead woman walking. Living dead. Wants her immediate execution.

This is the kind of hysterical, overwrought language more commonly adopted by the most unhinged of Social Justice Warriors, who see physical harm in the most innocuous of words, not the language of a sober-minded parliamentarian.

No serious person could possibly believe that George Osborne literally wants to kill and dismember Theresa May, or fantasises about her death. This blog has about as low an opinion of George Osborne as it is possible to hold, and even I do not believe that the ex-Chancellor is a full-on psychopath who daydreams about the violent demise of his enemies.

And in fact Nadine Dorries and most of the other people who came scuttling out of the woodwork to declare their outrage also probably do not believe this of George Osborne. They just know that accusations of sexism or violence against women have enormous power to ruin reputations (as they should when such acts are actually committed), and think nothing of levelling such accusations in retaliation against language or behaviour that they dislike. Playing the sexism or racism card is fair game, in other words, when one’s cause is just – even if the evidence to back it up is not there.

And indeed it then becomes immediately clear why Nadine Dorries is actually upset:

He spent ten years undermining her and trying to squash her. He mounted whips operations against her in the chamber when she was Home Sec. I’ve written to Gavin [Williamson, Tory Chief Whip] and said I think his pass for conference should be removed because we would never allow a punter in who had said any of that, for security reasons. I hope some of you feel strongly enough to do the same.

So this has nothing to do with “security reasons” at all – it is just a convenient opportunity, gifted by Osborne’s crass language, to exact political revenge on an opponent (Dorries has had a fractious relationship with the Tory leadership since having the whip temporarily withdrawn after she skipped the country to participate in a reality TV show).

But of course, being honest about the real reasons for her animus toward the former Chancellor would make Dorries look small-minded and petty, so instead she slaps on the faux-outrage like a suit of armour and wades into battle, declaring that Osborne’s schoolyard threats somehow represent a security threat to the prime minister.

There is a very ugly and unseemly trend among an increasing number of MPs to wallow in their own supposed victimhood. Despite occupying one of the most high-status occupations it is possible to hold, one which opens up endless future career opportunities – to say nothing of conferring the ability to shape the course of the nation – a growing number of MPs seem to see themselves as uniquely oppressed and vulnerable.

This trend has greatly picked up since the ghastly murder of Jo Cox last year, an act which was universally condemned but which seems to have provided some more cynical politicians with an excuse to “turn the leaf” on past expenses scandals and abuses of public trust in order to cast themselves as the fearless public heroes and members of the public as little more than a source of menace and danger.

To be clear: Members of Parliament are public servants and have the absolute right to discharge their duties in the full expectation of safety and security. Any legitimate or even ambiguous threats of violence or vulgar verbal or written abuse is reprehensible. But it does not help the effort to crack down on real trolling and abuse of politicians (such as that received by Diane Abbott) when cynical and calculating people falsely conflate the kind of standard political skulduggery which has always been a part of politics with real racial or sexist abuse.

If anything, the fact that George Osborne has apparently been telling anybody who will listen at Evening Standard HQ that he wants to politically dismember the prime minister is itself proof that he sees Theresa May as much as a worthy opponent to smite as he would any man. Osborne’s colourful and rather gruesome imagery does not reveal a deep-seated loathing of women, but rather is evidence of real parity of esteem – he doesn’t see any reason why Theresa May should be spared from his ranting and plotting any more than a male politician.

A true feminist would surely approve of this acknowledgement of equality and see George Osborne’s posturing as evidence of social progress. In fact, the only people who might not take this stance are cynical political opportunists who like to use accusations of sexism as weapon, and babyish fourth-wave intersectional feminists who see all words as potentially harmful and any political dissent as a threat to their very personhood.

Why? Because their dispiriting, identity politics-soaked worldview is predicated on the notion that women are in fact not equal, that by virtue of their historic and present oppression they are uniquely vulnerable and in need of perpetual protection against the “harms” which may be inflicted by stray words.

There is real violence, misogyny and hatred in this world. Let us be vociferous in condemning any such incidences wherever they appear. But pretending that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer is one meat cleaver purchase away from dismembering the prime minister of the United Kingdom is risible at face value, as is the notion that his petty political vendetta might encourage anybody else to commit physical violence.

On the other hand, with Halloween around the corner this tedious episode has at least provided some inspiration for a few new costumes which will see all of Britain’s snowflakes running for their safe spaces.

 

George Osborne

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Owen Smith’s “Threat” To Theresa May Reveals The Arrogance Of The Left

Anyone can choose their words poorly under pressure. But the modern Left have made a habit of jumping on the verbal slips of other people and ruthlessly, cynically exploiting them for political gain using the weaponised language of identity politics. So forgive us for being less than sympathetic when one of their own makes the same mistake

In the ongoing, unwatchable carnival of stupidity that is the second Labour leadership contest in the space of a year, this week’s news coverage has been dominated by challenger Owen Smith’s poor choice of words when he spoke about his desire to take the fight to Theresa May and the conservatives.

From the Guardian:

Labour leadership contender Owen Smith has been forced to apologise after saying he wanted to “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”, during a major speech to outline his policy ideas.

Smith said he wanted to “smash austerity” and pledged a raft of new measures including scrapping the Department for Work and Pensions in favour of a Department for Labour, plans to make zero-hours contracts unlawful and to end the public sector pay freeze during his speech in South Yorkshire.

Those announcements, pitched to the party’s left, were overshadowed by criticism of his choice of language. Arguing that Labour should be going after the prime minister’s policies harder, he said: “It pained me that we didn’t have the strength and the power and the vitality to smash her back on her heels. These are our values, these are our people, this is our language that they are seeking to steal.”

Smith initially defended the comments as robust political language, but a spokesman said later the remarks were “off-script and, on reflection, it was an inappropriate choice of phrase and he apologises for using it”.

A spokesman for the campaign of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said: “We need to be careful of the language we use during this contest as many members, including many female Labour MPs, have said they feel intimidated by aggressive language.”

One can feel for Owen Smith. Clearly he has absolutely no desire to walk around the despatch box, cross the floor and physically punch Theresa May in the face, knocking her off her heels. In fact, the Left has a loud and angry tradition of wanting to “smash” anything and everything it happens to find objectionable, be it austerity, racism, sexism or Tory rule, without necessarily wanting to physically do so. It is fairly understandable how such language might therefore have crept in to a speech by this inexperienced leadership contender.

And yet. And yet…

One cannot help taking a small measure of satisfaction from watching somebody from the Party of Identity Politics – a vicious political clan who think nothing of smearing and ruining other peoples’ reputations with allegations of racism, sexism or any other “ism” they can think of when doing so offers them some slight political advantage – come a cropper by falling victim to the very same culture which their actions promoted.

Nobody seriously thinks that Owen smith wants to literally smash Theresa May and knock her off her feet, heels or no heels (in fact it was the heels reference that is actually the slightly more “sexist”, if one must call it that, rather than the threat of violence). But modern Leftist politicians like Owen Smith often end up self-detonating, and deservedly so, after stepping on one of the very same linguistic or cultural land mines that they love to lay across our language and political discourse. And if you make it unacceptable to say enough things, eventually you will trip over your own rules and find yourself convicted of accidentally infringing one of those very same edicts.

If any Tory MP spoke of smashing, say, Liz Kendall back in her heels, you can bet that Kendall would be touring the news studios that very evening, faux-earnestly warning of the violent misogynistic rhetoric being used by mainstream conservatives. But when one of their own does the same thing, as Comrade Smith did with his unfortunate remarks about Theresa May, nobody utters a peep. And while it certainly became a news story, Conservative MPs were not queuing up to make political capital out of the event, let alone those Labour MPs who fancy themselves champions of women.

Smith is too important to centrist Labour’s flimsy plot to prematurely terminate the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn to be brought down by his own violent rhetoric, you see. Besides, everyone knows that Labour are the good guys and that any racist, sexist or anti-Semitic remarks uttered by one of their own must simply be well-intentioned jokes taken out of context by people with sinister motives.

One would hope that Smith’s brush with political danger might force some kind of rethink within the party as to whether weaponising identity politics and making the English language a veritable landmine of things you can’t say / imagery you can’t adopt is really the best way to go. But of course there will be no such rethink. The next time a hapless Conservative MP talks about crushing the enemy or “targeting” Labour MPs, some weepy party apparatchik will be wheeled out to sob to the media about how terribly threatened and triggered they feel. Labour simply stands to gain too much from weaponised identity politics to consider giving it up, even as it poisons our politics and chills our public discourse.

But let us be magnanimous and take heart that Owen Smith does not seem to have suffered unduly from his amateurish speechwriting error. There are many reasons why Smith does not deserve to win the Labour leadership contest – starting with the fact that his 20-point policy pledge seems to be a condensed version of Labour’s disastrous 1983 “longest suicide note in history” manifesto, while the man himself seems to be nothing other than a younger version of Jeremy Corbyn minus the adoring fans.

We all know, those of us with brains and consciences, that Owen Smith does not harbour secret fantasies of karate kicking Theresa May across the floor of the House of Commons. It was an awkward turn of phrase, not a Freudian slip revealing deep-rooted male chauvinism.

And though Owen Smith’s party will never in a million years extend to us the same courtesy and benefit of the doubt, let’s stop talking about this pointless distraction and move on to matters of substance.

 

Owen Smith - Labour Party Leadership Coup

Bottom Image: Independent

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Angela Eagle’s Harassment Complaint Is Weaponised Victimhood With A Clear And Tawdry Motive

Angela Eagle - Labour Leadership Candidacy Launch - Labour Coup - 2

I have more respect for foul-mouthed internet trolls than for elected MPs who seek to exploit the abusive ranting of trolls to undermine a political foe whom they are unable to defeat in a fair contest

There is a fine line between being genuinely and rightfully offended at a wrong committed against you on the one hand, and going on to burnish and sharpen that grievance into a weapon, cynically deploying it against a political rival on the other.

Angela Eagle is way over that line.

That’s probably not a very popular thing to write, but one sees it over and over again, particularly now with the stultifying rise of identity politics. Weaponised victimhood. It takes a legitimate wrong, a crime or misdeed committed by one person, and uses it to attack the reputation and honour of a third party. And for failed Labour leadership contender Angela Eagle, whose alternative policy platform / vision for Britain struggled to fill half a side of A4 paper, it is apparently the one remaining trick up her sleeve – her last role of the dice in a pathetic attempt to stay relevant.

From the Telegraph:

Labour MP Angela Eagle has criticised Jeremy Corbyn after she was forced to cancel a constituency surgery following police warnings that her safety was at risk just weeks after the murder of Jo Cox.

Ms Eagle, who last week pulled out of the Labour leadership race, said she feared for her staff after a brick was thrown through the window of her constituency office and she was subject to alleged death threats.

She said that in the wake of the abuse police had advised her that her safety would be at risk if she pushed ahead with the public constituency meetings, which were due to be held in a café and a supermarket.

She accused Mr Corbyn of “stirring” hostility in her Wallasey constituency and said he had created a “permissive” environment for the abuse of MPs by his supporters.

Angela Eagle went on to allege:

“I think he has contributed to this. It’s all very well to condemn it but there’s a permissive environment. You can make any number of ritual condemnations as you like but you have got to be judged by your actions not just words.

“He has been stirring, he needs to be held to account. We have contacted the police and they have said we should cancel surgeries for safety reasons.

“I’m afraid for my staff. It’s them that have been up there not me. It’s them that have had to field the calls.”

To be clear: there is no excuse for misogynist or even plain old ignorant verbal, written or physical abuse of anybody at any time, in political life or in the real world. And those people who have sent specific death threats or other threatening communications to Angela Eagle are utterly pathetic, and should be dealt with severely.

But none of those people are Jeremy Corbyn. And the allegation that the leader of the Labour Party is “stirring” the situation is itself an extremely serious charge, one which in any other circumstance might land Eagle in some rather hot legal water.

Precisely what physical actions is Jeremy Corbyn supposed to take to pre-emptively reign in the unhinged, hateful fringe lunatics who can’t keep their politics in perspective and resort to thuggish threats and behaviour? Angela Eagle is suggesting that there is some obvious, specific set of actions which he should take to lower the temperature and calm his wilder supporters, yet she neglects to name a single one.

Eagle says “it’s all very well to condemn it.” What more would she have Corbyn do? Personally monitor the computers of every single one of his supporters simultaneously, 24/7, summarily ejecting them from the Labour Party? It is difficult to know exactly what more she wants, other than for Corbyn to publicly admit to being a terrible human being on live TV, publicly whip himself and promptly withdraw from the Labour leadership contest. Which, of course, is exactly what she wants.

But since we are talking about angry moods being stoked up, let us not forget that the current “crisis” within Labour was precipitated by centrist Labour MPs and shadow cabinet members deciding to use the result of the EU referendum to force out a leader who they never accepted and have been working to undermine since Day 1. These are a group of politicians who, through their utter arrogance and incompetence have totally lost the support of their own activists, and who are held in active contempt by a majority of party supporters. And yet they saw fit to try to achieve through palace intrigue that which they could not achieve through their own charisma or bright political ideas – dislodge Corbyn from the leadership and replace him with another one of their own. If there is anger in the party, who exactly is then to blame?

But back to Angela Eagle and her attempt to shame Jeremy Corbyn with the actions of his most unhinged supporters (something that Eagle and her ilk would be outraged by if we were to do the same thing by, say, condemning all members of a certain religion because of the acts of extremist fundamentalists). For this is what she is doing. Having realised that she cannot win the love or respect of the Labour Party base, she is instead reduced to trying to tear down their hero, putting Corbyn’s name in proximity to the thuggish actions of assorted internet trolls as often as possible in the hope that some of the mud will eventually start to stick.

Now, this blog has no time for Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing political views. But in an age where politics has been captured by centrism, sanitised and transformed into a dull and largely inconsequential exercise in technocracy, this blog would rather see a party leader with a coherent and sincerely held worldview than yet another telegenic suit with one eye permanently fixed on a focus group report.

Unfortunately, the problem with so-called populist ideas and leaders is that they attract more than their fair share of thugs, losers and carnival barkers. Nobody would have ever called up a rebellious backbencher threatening to kill them unless they backed Ed Miliband’s disastrous leadership of the Labour Party. Miliband, bless his cotton Fabian socks, simply didn’t arouse that kind of passion in people.

But this is not the case for leaders like Jeremy Corbyn or Nigel Farage, people who force (or stumble) their way to national prominence by satisfying some unmet need – or often legitimate grievance – in their many supporters. Does that make Nigel Farage personally responsible for every single act of thuggery ever committed by basement-dwelling losers in the name of UKIP? No. No more than Jeremy Corbyn is responsible for the threats and jabberings of every one of his supporters on the lunatic left-wing fringe.

But time and again we see this soul-sappingly cynical attempt by politicians who have lost the argument against the populists to trick their way back into contention by morally bludgeoning their opponents, holding up the crimes of others to intimidate the innocent into silence. We saw it with the outrageous exploitation of the Jo Cox murder by disgusting people who saw a great opportunity to smear Brexiteers and the cause of euroscepticism in general. And we see it now, with cynical politicians using every nasty piece of correspondence they have ever received to smear Jeremy Corbyn, as though he and Seumas Milne stay up late every night cutting letters out of newspapers to assemble their childish anonymous death threats.

Of course if credible death threats have been made against Angela Eagle then that is truly reprehensible, and is to be condemned loudly and frequently. This blog does so again now. But I am far less disappointed in the basement-dwelling loser who spends his spare time writing rude messages to female MPs than I am with Members of Parliament who seek to take personal threats and seek to make capital out of them at the expense of a political foe.

I expect nothing from the basement-dwelling internet troll. My expectations for the conduct of an elected representative of the people are somewhat higher. And with her latest cynical attempt at weaponised victimhood, Angela Eagle has thoroughly failed to meet those expectations.

 

Internet troll

Top Image: Mirror

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