After Tory MP Mark Field was caught on camera violently assaulting a protester Janet Barker during the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Mansion House speech yesterday evening came the reaction. That reaction demonstrated not only the ridiculous extent to which political partisanship has taken over public discourse, but also the shameful inability of the media class to call that violent assault for what it was.
Mark Field - anger management issues
This is bang out of order. Media people take note
After ITV political editor Robert Peston called the incident correctly, telling “This is so upsetting. The climate-change protestors were, according to the police and friends who were there, wholly peaceful. Why on earth does Field react with such ferocity? The violence of his intervention is quite wrong”, he was set upon by his own side.
Iain Martin, he of “there is a clear public interest” (but not if it’s John Whittingdale), was first to admonish Peston for his excessive candour. “This illustrates the new political divide perfectly. Ultra liberals are appalled. Opponents of ultra-liberalism see a self-indulgent protestor breaching security and heading for the Chancellor three years after an MP was assassinated”. “Ultra-liberalism”. “Self-indulgent”. And faux regard for Jo Cox’s memory.
As Juliet Brown said in response, “Am I the only one struggling to understand how [the] death of a woman at the hands of a a male terrorist is being used to legitimise violence against women?” That’s a Fail for Martin. So would a woman care to defend him?
Contrarian Charlotte Gill would. “Hang on a minute. She was holding something in her hand. It could have been a weapon. He was trying to control the threat, as he saw it, in that moment with very limited information. If she'd had a weapon, he would have protected that table. What would you have done?” Except it had already been established that the Greenpeace protesters were peaceful. And it was clearly a mobile phone.
Elsewhere, in unreconstructed bigot territory, the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not) dispensed with such modern-day fads as subtlety, and frothed “Why on earth should Mark Field apologise? He played a blinder”. Because he just violently assaulted someone. Keep up.
But Letts was not alone. Mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott made sure of that. “Yes it was ugly, but @MarkFieldUK made a split second decision to stop a potentially armed protestor going further. She looked very determined to get to the Chancellor. Imagine her fate at a similar event in the US!” That would depend on the colour of her skin, Ms O.
Meanwhile, Darren Crimes, oops, sorry, Grimes, decided to do what he does so often - talk well, but lie badly. “It’s of course never nice to see a woman been handled in such a way. But here’s an idea... maybe don’t charge towards the Chancellor and expect not to be grabbed and marched out of the door for quite an obvious and serious security breach!” Nobody was charging anywhere. And there are no ifs, just as there are no buts.
Perhaps the most shameful media intervention came from Laura Kuenssberg, who is supposed to be the BBC’s political editor (compare and contrast with Peston): “Clear Labour will push this tomorrow”. Tone deaf, as so often. Not a good look at all.
As former prosecutor Nazir Afzal reminded everyone, “There is no justification for this. It’s an assault & should be charged as such. No question”. Full stop, end of story.
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