Tory MPs veering across the defamation line in their efforts to smear Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems to be increasingly popular: first there was the singularly unpleasant Ben Bradley, the accidental MP for Mansfield, who was eventually forced to retract his claim that Jezza had been a paid Soviet spy, and make a significant donation to a local food bank (that meant it hurt). And now has come Sajid Javid.
The Home Secretary decided yesterday that he would climb aboard the bandwagon attempting to make capital from a confrontation in Parliament apparently engineered by veteran Labour MP Margaret Hodge, where she made a number of allegations against Corbyn which for some reason she has been loath to repeat outside the Palace of Westminster. Javid, ever the political opportunist, sensed an opening.
Labour had, it seems, decided to take action against Ms Hodge, which is their business. Javid decided it was his business, too: “Margaret Hodge’s family were murdered in the Holocaust. Instead of listening to her, Corbyn chooses to condemn her. How on earth can he claim he doesn’t have a problem with Jews? #disgraceful”. Excellent non sequitur there. But then he got suckered by another Tweeter.
What was in the Tweet to which Javid then replied is not known - it, and its author, have since vanished. But we do know what the Home Secretary said in reply: “How can you even question the Holocaust. Please think carefully about what you are saying. Don’t be misled by Corbyn”. There is only one inference that can be taken from that Tweet: that Corbyn is a Holocaust denier. Sajid Javid was in deep doo-doo.
One Tweeter tried to gently move the Home Secretary in the direction of saying sorry and deleting the offending claim. “Are you implying that Jeremy Corbyn has in any way suggested that the Holocaust is not real? Think carefully before you reply”. Whether he chose to do so is not known - as there was no reply.
And the Tweet remained intact. PR man Mike Hind also tried a little gentle persuasion on the MP for Bromsgrove. “That 'Muhammad_S_85' account you just used to imply that Jeremy Corbyn denies the Holocaust has now disappeared. You should really delete this public smear on the basis that it relies on a tweet from a banned account. After all, you are the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom”. No reply to that, either.
The Tweet stayed up. Perhaps the band played on, too. Judy Hamilton was not impressed. “The fact the Home Secretary responded to an account that’s now banned is bad. What is far worse is that it seems he used it as an excuse to accuse the Leader of the Opposition of fooling people into believing there was no holocaust. This is disgusting behaviour for a [Secretary] of State”. Had the vanished account been banned? Oh dear!
Sajid Javid, in taking no action to delete a Tweet making a highly defamatory suggestion about the Labour leader, has left himself open to not merely highly adverse comment, but yet another of those legal actions that Jezza will win, and he will lose.
Say sorry, Home Secretary. And get ready to make that food bank donation.