It was supposed to have been so easy: Tory MPs, armed with yesterday’s Daily Mail, together with its headline “EXPOSED: SHOCKING SCALE OF HARD-LEFT BULLYING … Damning Commons report lays bare hate campaign against Tory MPs during election”, only had to turn up to yesterday’s debate on the abuse they had been suffering, and they would have Jeremy Corbyn and his rotten lefties bang to rights.
After all, if the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery said it was Jezza and his pals, who were they to argue? Sadly, when the debate got going in earnest, it turned out to be a campaign which progressed not necessarily to the Tories’ advantage.
As the Guardian reported, “Simon Hart, the Conservative MP who called the debate, said the party’s whips office had been dealing with ‘at least three credible threats to colleagues every week, including death threats, criminal damage, sexism, racism, homophobia, antisemitism and general thuggishness around and after the election’ … the latest contest was characterised by ‘swastikas on election boards, offensive slogans and language on posters’”. And the Mail said The Left Done It.
But then Diane Abbott put the Tories straight about what serious and sustained abuse looks like. Ms Abbott “said she receives racist abuse, including use of the N-word, ‘over and over again’ every day - both online and offline … ‘We are talking about mindless abuse and in my case the mindless abuse has been characteristically racist and sexist,’ she said”. The examples she brought forward did not make for pleasant hearing.
“‘And just to outline I’ve had death threats, I’ve had people tweeting that I should be hung if ‘they could find a tree big enough to take the fat bitch’s weight … There was an EDL-affiliated Twitter account BurnDianeAbbott, I’ve had rape threats, described as a pathetic, useless, fat, black, piece of shit, ugly, fat, black bitch’”.
She was not the only Labour figure to be on the receiving end of the nastiness: Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy has been subjected to abuse which only ended when one member of the brains trust was convicted and jailed for 18 weeks. Jess Phillips received more than 600 rape threats in one night. And Luciana Berger was targeted by sad nobody Joshua Bonehill Paine, who is now behind bars.
So while “Some Conservatives attributed higher levels of intimidation than normal to supporters of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn”, Ms Abbott strongly disputed the claim, and was backed up by her fellow Labour MP Paula Sherriff, who “said it was wrong for some Tories to suggest it was ‘only one party doing it’ … She could not remember a single day over the last two years in which she had not received some sort of abuse”.
Moreover, “Labour has also accused the Conservative party headquarters nationally of running a nasty campaign full of smears and untruths about opponents, particularly about Abbott”. The Tories did, indeed, make great play of their attacks on the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP. But anyone going a little too far when the target was a black woman Labour MP didn’t seem to fuss The Blue Team at the time.
Perhaps some Tories will think twice about this in future. I’ll just leave that one there.