The discovery of an installation of ground “spikes” outside a social housing project in London, designed to deter rough sleepers, has sparked controversy, and among those of a right-leaning disposition, an opportunity to accuse their political opponents of being worse, despite the Tories not having been specifically targeted. The usual suspects were quick off the mark, and equally quickly came to grief.
First off, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog discovered something similar outside the building used by the Labour Party as its HQ. Sadly, when it became clear that the rotten lefties were mere tenants, and had no control over what their landlords did with the building exterior, The Great Guido ended up with the ball in his own net. Another fine mess.
Meanwhile, the Fawkes folks’ bestest friend among back-bench Tories (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries was deploying some creative storytelling of her own, as she declared “Labour run Liverpool has arm rests across all public benches so that the homeless can’t lie down”. Given the number of benches across the city, and her well-known tendency to dishonesty, there could be only one outcome.
“Hi Nadine, the bench claim is completely untrue. We’re proud of the support we offer to [the] homeless. Bench photos to follow!” replied the City Council. And so it came to pass, as this was followed up with “Hi Nadine, here are photos of some of our public benches, as promised”. There was not an armrest in sight. But Ms Dorries was not yet down and out in Mid Bedfordshire.
“If you want to run a habitable benches competition, plenty of the other sort on the way” she retorted, and sure enough, photos of benches that, supposedly, supported her contention were swiftly posted. “Benches in Liverpool, designed to prevent the homeless from resting” she declared. But here a problem entered: there were no armrests, as she had asserted. And the design wouldn’t deter rough sleeping.
Indeed, she was soon corrected: “actually those are largely used to stop skateboarders from using them as ramps and rails”. And without any actual evidence to stand up her assertion that “all public benches” had armrests by “design”, this means the fragrant Nadine was, not for the first time, in an incendiary trouser situation. Yes, we’ve been here before, as Zelo Street regulars will know.
In March last year, she was reported by Fraser Nelson in the Spectator as having claimed that “When she was growing up in Liverpool ... the city had eight Tory MPs and an all-Tory council”. As I pointed out, neither claim was even remotely true. Now she’s been caught lying again. One can only hope that the electorate of Mid Bedfordshire has such information before it come next May.
Facts and Nadine Dorries do appear to be the most reluctant bedfellows.