Perhaps encouraged by BBC Newsnight’s singularly unfortunate Photoshop exercise earlier this week, with its Corbyn-Russia backdrop, some Tory MPs have been getting a little ahead of themselves in their efforts to play yah-boo at the Labour leadership. One of the most eager has been Tom Tugendhat, who was elected to represent the people of Tonbridge and Malling, but has better things to do today than bothering about them.
Tom Tugendhat. Claims to be an MP
Tugendhat, who has inexplicably been given the chairmanship of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, has been an MP since 2015, and has today told the world that he does not merit being one any longer. His method of demonstrating his unsuitability has been to not just smear Corbyn, but do so in a way which is flagrantly defamatory. So perhaps he will be joining Ben Bradley in getting one of those solicitors’ letters.
After his fellow Tory James Cleverly, who isn’t, had a pop at Jezza, saying “Seems that @OwenJones84 is unhappy because the BBC used this photo of Corbyn against a backdrop of the Kremlin. He felt it distorted the public’s perception of Corbyn in light of his very weak response to the attempted assassination in Salisbury” (key Tory attack term “weak” deployed successfully, if ineffectually), he decided to up the ante.
“He backed IRA murderers when people who cared about human rights and wanted a united Ireland joined he SDLP. He even went to an IRA funeral. Not really quite the image he wants to portray now”. The “IRA funeral” claim is fake, and the photo used to back up this false claim is probably that of former MP Owen Carron. Tugendhat had blundered. This was pointed out to him. He then failed to withdraw the offending Tweet.
Instead, he blustered “I accept the correction of Corbyn attending an IRA funeral and withdraw that as a mistake. I did not know the photograph had been identified as someone else. I stand by his failure to support the real peacemakers in Northern Ireland”. If he didn’t know the photo was of someone else, then why pretend it was Corbyn? Heck, the photo was taken around six years before Jezza became an MP.
Could it get any worse for The Blue Team? As if you need to ask. Remember James “not very” Cleverly? Just to show how not very Cleverly he was, he Retweeted the offending Tweet, thus compounding the potential libel. Someone in the Tory Party has not been reading up on McAlpine v Bercow, or even Monroe v Hopkins. So that’s another of those solicitors’ letters on its way to the MP for Braintree, hopefully.
Tugendhat has now deleted the offending Tweet, but in the meantime it had been viewed, liked and Retweeted thousands of times in total. The totally untrue claim that Jeremy Corbyn attended an IRA funeral has been spread far and wide - including among at least one suitably credulous fellow Tory MP. Tom Tugendhat is supposed to be a Parliamentarian - not a cheap and dishonest propagandist.
But his party chairman Brandon “barrow boy” Lewis is equally devoid of either spine or principle, so don’t expect their behaviour to improve any time soon. What a shower.