With the election victory of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson last week, some out there on the right clearly feel emboldened to be that little more intolerant, that much more bigoted, and in one case, to do away altogether with such niceties as accepting that your opponents should not be the subject of death threats.
What Henry II said of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his assassination in 1170, which led four knights to commit murder, is of historical dispute. Historian Simon Schama reckons he said “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?” but most will recall a far shorter version, “Will no-one rid me of this turbulent priest?” It is the latter version under scrutiny today.
That is because, after the convocation of the irredeemably batshit otherwise known as Breitbart London had posted an article on campaigner Gina Miller, they then Tweeted out the message “Gina Miller Admits Defeat in Brexit Battle - But Next Remainer Fight Is for Soft Exit”. To a Government with a majority of 80, this should be of no consequence.
But we live in troubling times, and Baroness Shiela Noakes, who takes the Tory whip in the House of Lords, was not only paying attention to the Breitbart Twitter feed - I make no further comment on that one - but was in the mood for a little incitement of her own. “Who will rid us of this meddlesome woman?” That statement is loaded.
Colin Talbot asked her “Are you serious? You do remember Jo Cox being murdered don't you? Please take this down”. Another Tweeter added “You do realise you are parodying Henry II's 'order' to carry out the assassination of Thomas Becket. I'm sure you do … Reported”. Several others reported her Tweet. Some tagged the Metropolitan Police.
Geoff Jones mused “Wow, seriously? A conservative peer encouraging the murder of a UK citizen”. And Bryony Bethell concluded “You are using threatening language to [Gina Miller]. Nolan principles in public life? You were until recently deputy Chair of OFCOM. Are you a suitable regulator?” Will there be an apology? Don’t bank on it.
Peter Jukes of Byline Media pointed out “This is [a] Conservative Peer using the language of threat (the same words Henry II used to his knights to incite the murder of Thomas a Becket) of [Gina Miller] - who has of course been subject to innumerable death threats. It’s either ignorant, or inciteful”. And one Tweeter suggested a further motive. “I also feel a hint of English/white supremacy. The great white dame makes politics while her black British counterpart 'meddles'? Interesting approach”. That explains her reading Breitbart.
Sheila Noakes should have already taken down that Tweet and apologised. She has not, because there will be no sanction, no admonishment. The Tory Party leadership should dissociate itself from her, to the point of removing the whip. They will do no such thing.
Welcome to the kinder and gentler People’s Government. I’ll just leave that one there.
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