The continuing harassment of MPs and media figures by desperate wannabe James Goddard and his motley group of hangers-on - now becoming known as the Gilets Jamons - has now become serious enough that representations are being made to the Metropolitan Police demanding they take action. As the BBC has reported, more than 50 MPs have written to Met Commissioner Cressida Dick.
“The MPs cited ‘serious concerns’ about the ‘deteriorating public order and security situation’ … It comes after Conservative MP Anna Soubry was verbally abused on Monday … She was shouted at - including being called a liar and a Nazi - during live TV interviews on BBC News and Sky … The former minister was later called ‘scum’ and jostled as she tried to re-enter the Palace of Westminster.”.
This escalation of intimidatory behaviour, and the concern that it might get out of hand, is drawing parallels with what happened in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum, when Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered by a Britain First supporter. But one mercenary pundit has been more than willing to defend the harassment.
To no surprise at all, that pundit is Brendan O’Neill of Spiked, so called because it should have been long ago. His simplistic take, elevating Goddard and his goons to some kind of working class hero status they do not merit, is both riveting and repulsive.
“Wearing France-inspired yellow vests, the Brexit-backers walk alongside Ms Soubry and call her a ‘traitor’. One says she is a ‘disgrace to this country’. She’s ‘on the side of Adolf Hitler’, says another, weirdly … None of the protesters touches her or threatens her. They simply express their political anger at her various intensifying efforts to overthrow the vote for Brexit and in the process write off the wishes of the largest democratic bloc in the history of the UK: the 17.4million who voted for us to leave the EU”.
They didn’t touch or threaten her? Bullshit. Bren hasn’t been looking at the social media brains trusts feeding off this threatening behaviour. But he has more to say. “Across the media and Twittersphere the protesters are being slammed as disgusting, a disgrace, a dire threat to public peace … This is revealing stuff. It is unquestionable that the intensity of the media class’s hatred for these protesters is down to the fact that they are from the lower classes. Watch the video. They don’t have refined accents. They express themselves plainly and coarsely”. They’re incoherent thugs, Bren. That’s what they are.
O’Neill, a middle class dilettante if ever there was one, is drooling in his elevation of James Goddard - a wannabe who is unlikely ever to progress to having any significance beyond eventually getting himself nicked - to some sort of mythical folk hero status. And he is totally wrong: this isn’t a working class movement. It’s (still) a bunch of thugs.
Moreover, this is not a pro-Brexit protest, despite O’Neill’s false claims. Goddard was caught on camera abusing a black Police officer, yelling that he was “not British”. That’s not a noble, working class, pro-Brexit protest. It’s straightforward racist bigotry.
You can disagree with Anna Soubry, and I often do, but those behaving like an amateur Sturmabteilung while calling “Nazi” on others are totally out of order. Small wonder they are now being called out, with Goddard’s blatant racism to the fore.
After one Tweeter noted “Same dude [Goddard] screaming at a Black Policeman today that he’s ‘not even British’”, Tottenham MP David Lammy responded “Threatening police with ‘war’ and saying they're ‘fair game’ and then to top it off telling a BAME police officer he's ‘not even British’. A disgrace. Astonished he wasn't arrested on the spot”.
Kay Burley of Sky News - again, you can dislike her, and I certainly do, but that does not excuse the intimidation - told “I need security to escort me from my place of work These people are not pro-Brexit. They are pro-intimidation They specifically target me and scream ‘slag’, or ‘fucking fascist’ over and over and over again and those are just some comments I can mention in polite company”.
From ITV, Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid, not normally one to wade in to online debates, put it bluntly: “Utterly, completely unacceptable. Anybody who thinks this behaviour is acceptable is an idiot”. And Ben de Pear of Channel 4 News agreed.
“This is deliberately happening in order to stop @Anna_Soubry and others from appearing on national broadcasters - a crucial function of democracy. The @metpoliceuk have to police this area”. We can have disagreement. We can have vigorous debate. Feelings can run high. Opposing views can remain unreconciled. But there is no need, and indeed no justification, for what James Goddard and his brains trust is up to right now.
And Dan Waddell reminded us of a most regrettable episode in O’Neill’s past when he Tweeted “Fuck these people and fuck O’Neill. Spiked probably reckon Jo Cox’s murder was ‘entirely natural.’ Why not deny a bit of murder when you’ve denied a bit of genocide?” Bren’s crowd were big on denying the Srebrenica massacre. That tells you where they are on the reality acceptance scale, which is probably not there at all.
This is not a pro-Brexit protest. It is a far right wannabe, a vicious and incoherent racist bigot, an intolerant thug, trying to intimidate people better-known than himself in order to score a few more donations for his rubbishy YouTube channel. That is what Brendan O’Neill is unable to get into his out of touch and over-privileged head.
It’s time the Met called time on James Goddard’s little Wild West Show. Brendan O’Neill can offer his services as a character witness. Nothing like getting him a longer sentence.
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