Events of the past few days have revealed many new facets of the Tory Party: for instance, the rank hypocrisy of expelling MPs for disloyalty on the orders of those whose loyalty was rather more questionable, the descent of Dominic Cummings as he wandered around the Palace of Westminster in a drunken state, and the realisation by our free and fearless press that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was a dud.
But the event that showed that today’s Tories are rather less pleasant than they would like us to believe was the demonstration by the Member for Times Long Past Jacob Rees Mogg that he is an utter and complete shit. When put under a little pressure, the Moggster demonstrated why his promotion to Leader of the House was a step too far.
Dr David Nicholl
Challenged in an LBC phone-in over the scenarios outlined in the now infamous Operation Yellowhammer document, and by a doctor who had some input into that document, over potential increases in death rates, Rees Mogg lost it. How many more deaths would he find acceptable? We did not get to find out. Instead, he resorted to abuse, telling consultant neurologist David Nicholl that he was “irresponsible” and a “remoaner”.
It got worse. As the Guardian’s Peter Walker told, “Astonishing: in the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg calls Dr David Nicholl, with whom he clashed over no-deal Brexit, ‘as irresponsible as Dr (Andrew) Wakefield’, the disgraced anti-vaccines campaigner”. Had he said that outside the Palace of Westminster, it would have been actionable.
Helena McKeown, chair of the British Medical Association, was not impressed. “Dangerous behaviour by [Jacob Rees Mogg] slandering the highly respected NHS consultant & whistleblower [David Nicholl]. Our research [at the BMA] supports the doctor. Who do you trust? A doctor or a politician? Remember the bus”. Ouch!
And if anyone thought that Dr McKeown’s view might not be shared by others at the BMA, along came the BMA’s Twitter feed to put them straight. “[Jacob Rees Mogg’s] insult about Dr David Nicholl is disgraceful … [he] has courage and experience to speak the truth about the disaster of a no-deal Brexit. He should be praised not attacked”.
Dr Nicholl, meanwhile, was on his way to Westminster. “A statement was made by a govt minister this am which I believe 2 be defamatory but is protected by Parliam privilege … I am currently catching train 2 London 2 speak to [BBC PM] … I’m happy 2 speak to any other legitimate journo on College Green afterwards.Apologies 2 my dentist”.
Theo Usherwood of LBC was one of those journos. “Dr Nicholl adds: ‘I need to call him out. The best way to treat is a bully is to call them out … If he has got a problem with my probity he can refer me to the GMC. I am particularly offended by the comparison to Andrew Wakefield.’” Could it get worse for Rees Mogg? Yes it could.
Professor Sally Davies, who is Chief Medical Officer for England, has passed adverse comment, too. “I have written to [Jacob Rees Mogg] to express my sincere disappointment and show my support for doctors across the country, particularly [David Nicholl]. Doctors are amongst the most trusted people in our country; it is worth listening to what they have to say with respect”. Indeed it is. So the Moggster has now apologised. Eventually.
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