The rank hypocrisy of the Tory Party, its apologists and cheerleaders, and indeed all who sail in it was laid bare this week after their vice-Chair Ben Bradley tried to draw one of those lines that never seem to work under the unfortunate revelations of the last few days. While he did that, convincing no-one except his own side in the process, comparisons were already being drawn with a recent incident involving the Labour Party.
Ben Bradley - let off with a slap on the wrist
Zelo Street regulars will already be familiar with the saga of Jared O’Mara, who won Sheffield Hallam from the Lib Dems last year, unseating Nick Clegg in the process. His social media and other online past was trawled relentlessly by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, and anything and everything that could be dredged up and held against him was indeed held against him.
No matter that much of what he had said in the past was from between 13 and 15 years ago - this was, for The Great Guido and his pals in CCHQ, fair game. O’Mara said sorry, resigned from the Commons equality committee, he was suspended from the Labour Party - thereby having the whip withdrawn - and an investigation into his conduct was begun. The Tories and the Fawkes massive kept up the attack.
Now compare all of that with Bradley, who first came to public notice last week after suggesting that the poor should be sterilised so that the population at large would not be “drowning in a vast sea of unemployed wasters”. He made those comments in 2012, or no more than five and a half years ago. So by the same rule applied to O’Mara, he should have been at the very least suspended and relieved of his vice-Chairmanship.
Jared O'Mara - hounded out of Parliament
He was not. But any idea that the Tories could just wish this one away were dashed when Bradley’s comments on the 2011 riots surfaced. “We need to come down hard on these morons before somebody gets killed! If we have any sense as a nation we’ll stay home tonight and make it easy for the police to find the ones hanging around town centres with their faces covered. For once I think police brutality should be encouraged!”
And, sadly for Bradley and his party, there was more. He had also Tweeted “I'll be in front of the news tonight watching police play 'Splat the Chav’”. And what happened when he was contacted by the people at BuzzFeed? “You'll have to go through [Conservative headquarters], mate, I'm afraid. I'm just getting a bit sick of the whole thing, to be honest … I think being held to account now for comments I made nearly a decade ago is a bit ridiculous”. It wasn’t a decade ago, and it was OK for Jared O’Mara, wasn’t it?
While CCHQ has kept up its assault on O’Mara, aided and abetted by its boot boys at the Fawkes blog, there is now silence about Bradley’s misbehaviour. Nor is the Tory-supporting press screaming for Bradley to be suspended. The lack of self-awareness would be staggering, if their response were not so totally predictable.
If the Tories and their media cheerleaders won’t apply the same standards to Ben Bradley that they demand Labour apply to Jared O’Mara, they should not expect The Red Team to do any more than tell them to shove off and mind their own business.
If Bradley can say sorry and carry on as an MP, so can O’Mara. End of story.