Barrister Adam Wagner is concerned. What appears to concern him is the view that others have of him. He clearly believes that there is an irrational dislike in some of those views. Yet he manages not to see not only that the adverse comment has nothing to do with whether others like him, but also that it is his own wilful behaviour, and indeed his unproven claims about others, which is at the root of the problem.
He mused earlier this week “a complaint was made to my regulator about me two weeks after I revealed I was acting in the Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation. It was by ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’. Thankfully dismissed as unarguable before I had to respond. Stressful few months!” Then he wondered why the complaint had been made.
And here is where he went wrong. “I have come to the sad realisation in recent months that there are people out there, who I have never met or contacted, who seem to have genuine animus towards me. It's a strange feeling, though I suppose part and parcel of taking a prominent position on a controversial issue”. Do go on.
“Also, these are all just examples of the kind of abusive atmosphere which has developed around the Labour Party, which I have been talking about for a long time. These people don't realise they are proving my point for me … It's about the hostile denialism which developed in the Labour movement, epitomised by Chris Williamson, Labour Press Office, JVL and a phalanx of social media accounts”. And there is his problem.
Someone complains about him. The complainant’s name has “Labour” in its title. So it is the Labour Party’s fault. And this is a barrister - coming out with a wilful circular argument. It’s the same circular argument he applied when discussing whether the EHRC should formally investigate Labour over allegations of anti-Semitism, when he asserted “the Labour Party has a significant racism problem”. That’s for an investigation to decide.
It has nothing to do with animus: indeed, Zelo Street has applauded Wagner in the past for his stance on potential erosion of human rights legislation (see HERE), a subject on which, it seems, we must be eternally vigilant. But it does have to do, for instance, with his alliance with groups like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which has questions to answer over the behaviour of six of its Honorary Patrons.
Also, the CAA left several highly defamatory comments made about Jeremy Corbyn by signatories to a website petition live before eventually removing them. It also has to do with Wagner dismissing evidence seeking as “hair-splitting”. It also has to do with his being not only involved with the CAA, but also the EHRC: the potential for conflict is clear.
It also has to do with his assertion “I do hope that the EHRC goes ahead and investigates Labour as I believe it’s [sic] recommendations can be used for all political parties. Though labour also has some quite Labour-specific issues”. Once again, the impression is given that he had reached a conclusion before any investigation has taken place.
No, it is not about animus, but concern: concern that a barrister very close to the ECHR probe into Labour may be conflicted, concern that he is pre-judging the issues, and concern that he may be selective in what he takes on board. I’ll just leave that one there.
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