[Update at end of post]
The activities of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) are often reported on Zelo Street, but despite the frequently dubious nature of their propaganda, this group is normally of civilised demeanour. That changed this afternoon following a most unpleasant arson attack last night in Stalybridge.
The BBC has reported the incident, at the town’s Labour club, in which a couple forced their way in to the building late last night, demanded money from the steward, and set fire to parts of the bar and lounge after their demands failed to bear fruit. The steward escaped via the cellar, suffering some minor burns.
The Police appear to regard this as an arson attack, and confirmed that the steward had been left “badly shaken”. So it might be thought that even those not aligned with the Labour Party would take a measured approach when reacting to the incident, but that thought would be misplaced.
Because the local representative of the TPA, Liam Billington, has not allowed any residual doubt to trouble him, nor any regard for the victim to get in the way of his accusation.
This afternoon, Billington Tweeted “Stalybridge Labour Club ‘arson’: We’re all clear that this is an insurance swindle right?”, ending the Tweet with the hash tag #ashtonmarket (the historic market hall in Ashton-under-Lyne was ravaged by fire in 2004, but has since been restored).
If Billington has any factual information to back up his assertion, then no doubt he will be sharing it with the Police at the first opportunity. And, if not – as seems most likely – I’m sure he will have the decency to apologise for his defamatory smear.
[UPDATE 1640 hours: minutes after the TPA's Matthew Sinclair was made aware of his representative's lapse of discipline, the Tweet making the malicious and defamatory assertion was removed. A further screenshot was taken. But there has as yet been no apology: we're waiting]