The deeply unpleasant Tory Party vice-chairman Ben Bradley, he of “Splat the Chavs” and advocating sterilisation for the unemployed, overreached himself yet again last week with a claim about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that was totally untrue, and indeed libellous. As a reward for his diligence in smearing the opposition, Jezza instructed lawyers and the hapless Bradley is now facing a non-trivial bill for their services.
Ben Bradley - time to go
He has also been prevailed upon to tell his followers “I fully accept that my statement was wholly untrue and false. I accept that I caused distress and upset to Jeremy Corbyn by my untrue and false allegations, suggesting he had betrayed his country by collaborating with foreign spies … I am very sorry for publishing this untrue and false statement and I have no hesitation in offering my unreserved and unconditional apology to Jeremy Corbyn for the distress I have caused him”. And there was more.
Bradley has also agreed to make a payment to a charity of Corbyn’s choice, and the Labour leader’s choice was that the payment be split between a homeless charity and a food bank - in Bradley’s own constituency of Mansfield. That will have hurt twice over: the local food bank suggestion was pitched by Owen Jones, who was there yesterday in Mansfield to rally the Labour troops - campaigning to unseat Bradley next time round.
Remember how the Tories went after him?
Could it get worse? It certainly could: when Bradley Tweeted out his apology yesterday evening, as agreed with Jezza’s lawyers, this became the most successful Tweet he has sent out. It has scored more than 20,000 Retweets. As James Felton pointed out, Bradley “has been charged by the conservatives to connect with the youth” and this was the only example he could point to of having a Tweet go viral.
And yet worse: Tory chairman Brandon “barrow boy” Lewis, who is effectively Bradley’s boss, spent much of last Thursday’s edition of BBC Question Time being reminded of his supposed pledge not to insult opponents. As the BBC reported at the time, “Conservative candidates will be suspended if they insult rivals, the new party chairman says … Brandon Lewis said a new code of conduct would require people standing for Parliament to ‘behave responsibly and show respect’ to others”. Sounds straightforward enough.
Brandon Lewis - should be calling for Bradley's resignation
So what is Lewis going to do with Ben Bradley? He’s not merely insulted a rival, he’s libelled him. He’s not behaved responsibly and certainly hasn’t shown respect for others (don’t forget the chav splatting and sterilisation comments, either). When Labour new boy Jared O’Mara was caught being disrespectful to others - even historically - he was suspended by the party, and remains suspended. So what about Bradley?
And if the MP for Mansfield is suspended, as a comparison with O’Mara suggests, and the Tories’ own pledge demands, then his position as party vice-chairman is untenable. So he would have to resign, or be sacked. After all, Brandon Lewis has laid down the law with his new code of conduct, and his party lost no time condemning Jared O’Mara.
Ben Bradley has to resign as Tory vice-chairman. Or Brandon Lewis has to sack him. The party has no alternative. After all, they have those high principles to uphold. Allegedly.