London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson appears to be in a spot of bother, according to the BBC: “Boris Johnson has been ordered to appear in court over claims he lied by saying the UK gave the EU £350m a week. The Tory leadership candidate has been accused of misconduct in public office after making the claim during the 2016 EU referendum campaign.” And who is behind this move?
“It is a private prosecution launched by campaigner Marcus Ball, who crowdfunded £200,000 for the case … The preliminary hearing will take place at Westminster Magistrates' Court and the case will then be sent to the Crown Court for trial”. Bozza having to account for his dishonesty in a court of law? Well, well.
This, though, was merely the signal for the spin machine to be fired up, triggering a tsunami of misinformation and deflection, and as so often in the vanguard were the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who decided to play the man and not the ball. Or rather, they played the Marcus Ball.
“Campaigner To ‘Stop Lying In Politics’ Is Lying About His Political Campaign” howled The Great Guido yesterday. Ball was dismissed as “smarmy” (two thirds of the Fawkes team having a self-awareness fail there). It’s all down to “the establishment and dodgy bandwagon hoppers”, which describes the Fawkes massive very well. They even have a quote from “A source close to Boris”, or, as it is usually called, Boris.
But the story had been framed in the way the Tories wanted: it was a political prosecution. The law was being used for political purposes. From there it was not hard for the Tories to claim that it was an attempt to curtail their FREEZE PEACH.
Cue the faux knowledge of the Member for Times Long Past Jacob Rees Mogg, who sniffed in typically superior style “Politicising justice is a really bad idea and it's actually what happens in totalitarian regimes”. The idea that the judiciary is not independent, something our free and fearless press likes to do when they get a decision they don’t like.
Bozza’s fellow leadership hopeful Rory Stewart was also in the deflection game. “It’s completely ridiculous to try to take Boris to court in the middle of the leadership race - let’s talk policy - not personalities and prosecution. Let’s get this done”. Irrelevant. As was the intervention of Michael “Oiky” Gove: “Whatever view you take on Brexit, we must not try to close down debate. Contending opinions and vigorous argument are the essence of democracy. We should trust the public to decide on the merits of a political case. We should not try to criminalise free speech”. No-one is closing down debate.
Still, Gove’s pals in the press have been given their cue, and the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph knew what that meant - invent something. “Stop ‘politically motivated’ prosecution over Johnson’s Leave campaign claim, DPP told”.
And the Mail went even more screamingly batshit, with Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover telling readers “Putting Boris in the dock isn’t just dotty. It’s a deeply sinister attack on our freedoms”. What complete crap. No freedoms have been attacked.
But Bozza now knows that free speech may mean responsibility. Good thing too.
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