As the moves to cause Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to do what is sometimes called considering his position ramped up over the weekend, it was clear that some pundits had a measure of advance warning that a shadow cabinet revolt was imminent. One of those was the not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, who has recently joined the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker to write for the Mail On Sunday.
Subtlety that the subs should have stopped
So far, so beneficial for the MoS, but, as has happened across the Fourth Estate recently, he got rather carried away and the dwindling ranks of sub-editors failed to exercise control and impose a little more, shall we say, discretion on Hodges’ resulting article, which told readers “Labour MUST kill vampire Jezza: If MPs don't vote for 'Jexit' now their party is doomed”. This was accompanied by a photoshop of Corbyn in a coffin.
Have a think about that: less than two weeks after Jo Cox, a serving Labour MP, was murdered outside her constituency surgery, a supposedly mainstream pundit is telling that same party that they MUST “kill” their own leader. Yes, the content of the article was right on the money, down to the series of staged resignations that have been going on since Corbyn sacked Hilary Benn on Saturday night. But that doesn’t excuse the “MUST kill”.
The Twitter condemnation was swift and extensive, not that Hodges or his paper gave a rat’s arse about such trivialities. “A truly disgusting article by @DPJHodges, especially after the murder of Jo Cox. But there we go, the vile mentality of the @DailyMailUK” commented one Tweeter. Another responded to Hodges prediction of the ferocious defence Corbyn’s supporters might mount with “what, worse than Jo Cox getting shot? Is that why you called for Corbyn to be murdered?”
One Tweeter among many not to get a response from The Great Man asked simply “Given what happened to Jo Cox barely a week ago, do you consider the picture to be acceptable?” Another disappointed observer simply responded “Dear oh dear @DPJHodges I'm no Corbyn fan but this is inconsiderate in light of what happened to Jo Cox”. And, as the man said, there was more.
After Hodges talked of “honourable men”, he was asked “talking about honourable men, how's this headline appropriate barely a week after #joCox was killed?” The response to the graphic image of “Vampire Jezza” was uniformly hostile, as were the reminders of Jo Cox’s murder. No response from Hodges. No response from his paper.
And, d’you know what? There is unlikely to be a response, or any kind of apology, or even regret. No admission that the bounds of good taste and decency have been broken. Not unless Corbyn himself makes a complaint to IPSO. Why is that? Because, as the good people at Hacked Off have been telling us for some time, third party complaints can just be dismissed. IPSO will do nothing to stop this kind of behaviour from over-zealous pundits.
Dan Hodges is going to get away with an act of incitement. And that’s not good enough.