Some journalists gain recognition from their endeavours, others through their notoriety. And some have to resort to publicity stunts to gain recognition. In that last category we find Jane Merrick, another of those hacks and pundits for hire who occasionally fetches up on the late night Sky News paper review because there was no-one else available.
You don't know who she is? Neither do I
Ms Merrick has protested at what she calls “Corbyn’s anti-Semitism policy”, by which one has to presume she means that of the Labour Party. It seems she has taken the row over Labour not having included all of the examples that accompany the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in its code of conduct as her starting point. For this she has left the party, to the clear surprise of all those who didn’t know she had joined in the first place.
She quit Labour not by merely making an announcement via social media, but by writing about it at some length, for money, in the Murdoch Times, where she erroneously compares a policy argument to the Liverpool City Council dispute with the Thatcher Government. Then she was rumbled for only having joined the party two years ago to vote against Corbyn in what was expected to be a leadership challenge from Angela Eagle.
So her departure was not treated too seriously, “Jane Merrick quits the Labour Party... I haven't been this devastated since Andrew Ridgeley quit Wham!” and “It gets better. Jane Merrick joined Labour in Summer 2016 to vote for...Angela Eagle. Her departure is a dark day” being typical. Nor were her past errors glossed over, as Stephe Meloy warned.
“...don’t fall for the screech of the tiny tiny violins; this is the same #JaneMerrick who launched a full on transphobic tirade against @Rachael_Swindon last year in an effort to silence her”. Rachael added “So we’ve lost Shadow Minister for Bahrain John Woodcock & ‘Journalist’ Jane Merrick in the last few days. One accused me of spreading Kremlin propaganda, the other called me a guy, which ended up with a dogpiling”.
Those making claims of Twitter overreaction got short shrift, too. “Have a read of tweets aimed at Diane Abbott. Then try telling me Jane Merrick is being ‘digitally lynch mobbed’. Ms. Merrick is behaving like a spoiled child who was caught lying and refuses to admit it so has gone off in a huff” … “Jane Merrick will be such a loss to the Labour Party. I think she is brave for calling out antisemitism. Not brave enough to call out the guy she works for (Murdoch). Not brave enough to call out antisemitism where it actually exists either. I’m sure someone will miss her though”. And the cynicism at her departure was clear.
“I had never even heard of this Jane Merrick until this latest publicity stunt. Who is she?” … “Knowing me Angela Eagle, knowing you Jane Merrick” … “Jane Merrick has resigned from The Gap Band, with a heavy heart” … “Jane Merrick has resigned as manager of Accrington Stanley, with a heavy heart” … “Not believing Jane Merrick's quit Labour until she posts a video of her cutting up her membership card in a car showroom”.
Why should the Twitterati be so cynical? Well, quite apart from Ms Merrick being rather less well-known that she would like, and her occasional praise for Theresa May, perhaps coming out with comments like “Jane Merrick says Donald Trump is right, Britain IS in turmoil” might not exactly endear her to many in the UK. Apart from Piers Morgan.