For the little people who normally stay out of the public eye, the rule is as straightforward as it is easy to remember: never go to the press, and especially papers like the Sun and Mail. They care about one thing, and it ain’t you. For Labour politicians, the rule is fast becoming the same: those who run off to the Murdoch and Rothermere press run the risk of being used as cannon fodder in the press war on their own party.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion discovered that to her cost recently, and Jess Phillips may also come to regret it after allowing her name to be used on the by-line of a mostly dishonest and fraudulent article titled “Masked Rees-Mogg protesters harmed their cause and changed no-one’s minds”. Here, she tells “the video released this weekend from the UWE Bristol University [sic] event showing Jacob striding towards his hecklers and inviting them to have a conversation does not surprise me”. Do go on.
“The video then shows a scuffle breaking out. It appears to be from students annoyed at the protesters rather than the protesters themselves … The protesters must be some of the worst I have ever seen … Their action damaged their cause, they changed no one’s mind except those who now think they’re idiots”. Except that’s not what happened.
She had the opportunity to gen up on what had happened at the UWE, and to know that Labour backers were not involved, but still told Sun readers about “Hard-left Labour activists brawling”. And there was more than Ms Phillips didn’t pick up on.
She managed to miss that the scuffle kicked off because one Paul Townsley, who definitely is not a student, violently assaulted a young woman protestor. She also managed to miss that the Murdoch goons would use her article as part of a highly partisan attack on universities, in which they brought in the far-right “libertarian” gang from Spiked, so called because it should have been long ago, to peddle their propaganda.
So following right along from her linking of University “disruption” to her own party, the Sun has now run “SNOWFLAKE STUDENTS How a new generation of thin-skinned student activists are gagging young people”. This comment piece is written by Tom Slater, who claims “Today, the Free Speech University Rankings - the UK’s first university league table for campus censorship - are published … I coordinate the research”.
What Slater and the Murdoch goons do not tell is that his campaign is “A Spiked Project”. And, talking of Spiked, who should be in the Sun today but Brendan O’Neill himself, frothing “It’s time to stand up to the stupid bans of the student Stasi and protect free speech in the UK”. That would be the kind of free speech that demonises legitimate protest, while allowing the right-wing press to dump on anyone they don’t like.
And Jess Phillips has, perhaps unknowingly, allowed herself to be used as a patsy for the pushing of this right-wing censorship-but-it-can’t-be-because-it’s-libertarian-honestly agenda. She has facilitated vilification of students, and her own party, on a false premise, just for one by-line credit and a little extra cash. Wasn’t much of a bargain, was it?
Another Labour useful idiot conned something rotten. They certainly saw her coming.