WE HAVE all now heard, and most of us have probably also seen the footage, that arch Remain MP Anna Soubry was subjected to chants of “liar” and “Nazi” whilst being interviewed outside Parliament.
In an entirely predictable response, both mainstream media and politicians from all parties have reacted with horror and outrage at the vigorous criticism directed at their fellow MP or fellow supporter of EU dominance over Britain.
Soubry herself declared that the members of the public haranguing her were “well known” extremists, although curiously at the same time she declared that she feared for her safety because the principle person criticising her was unknown to her. This is of course not the only contradiction in the responses from Soubry and the mainstream media that are worth discussing.
Firstly, there is the selectivity of the outrage to think about. There has been a storm of immediate righteous fury in response to a couple of days in which both Soubry and the widely detested Owen Jones were subject to direct criticism from protestors. No such widespread media outrage followed from the occasion when Nigel Farage was barracked and harassed by a much larger contingent of SNP supporters when visiting Scotland.
The political establishment at that point did not call for a police response or for greater protection and deference towards Farage, as the LBC presenter and former UKIP leader himself pointed out. The SNP leader at that time, the now disgraced Alex Salmond, opined that Farage was not welcome in Scotland, justifying and condoning the thuggish treatment he had received.
Nigel Farage has claimed on repeated occasions that he has been subject to death threats for his history of supporting British independence from EU authority. As far as I am aware none of these claims has been subject to a full police investigation and no person has been arrested for harassing Farage.
Even when his children were harassed during a family meal the press coverage was muted and notably less concerned than it was by criticism of Soubry. Similarly when Jacob Rees-Mogg was accosted by the Hard Left professional nuisance and lifelong activist Ian Bone, who disgracefully addressed hateful comments about Rees-Mogg to the man’s six year old child, the general public were far more disgusted than the political and journalistic class, who again seemed to assume that support for Brexit makes a person a fair target.
More obviously right wing polemicists and public figures who are outsiders and not part of the political establishment, people like Katie Hopkins or Tommy Robinson, of course receive even more in the way of daily hatred than more mainstream Brexit supporters. Robinson had his personal address leaked in a way that endangered his family, has been subject to numerous death threats just like Farage, and has probably had millions upon millions of words of hate in print against him from all areas of mainstream opinion.
Hopkins was actually subject to an Islamist terror plot which threatened her beheading. There has not only been no mainstream outrage at these developments, but a widespread argument that the figures deserve it. Again and again we see the assumption that Remain or Establishment figures and attitudes deserve respect and protection, whilst politically incorrect or uncomfortable to the elite attitudes and figures do not.
Jones is perhaps more interesting in this regard than Soubry. He has consistently been one of the strongest public supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and the Hard Left seizure of control of the Labour Party. He regularly calls critics of himself or of those he supports fascists and regularly presents a conspiratorial view of the ‘right wing press’. He has opined that the Far Right is a major threat in Britain, and even gone so far as to suggest that rightwing press reporting had a part in the death of Jo Cox. He has on multiple occasions invited his followers and supporters online to harass by email, by Twitter or by other means his personal political opponents. He has had nothing to say except deflection and denial when it comes to the long established and verified links between Corbyn and other leading Labour figures with genuine extremists and terrorists and has consistently tried to shut down any criticism of Labour leaders whether it is in regard to proven instances of antisemitism or proven supportive comments and gestures towards terrorist groups like the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah. He has no problem with Corbyn calling Hamas his friends, or with McDonnell calling for public insurrection, joking about kneecapping people he doesn’t like, or calling for Tories to be followed and harassed at all times.
This leads us on to the second point of interest to follow from the selectivity of outrage the verbal attacks on Soubry and Jones prompted, and that is the enormous hypocrisy of those who have shared their outrage. In the case of Jones or of Labour Party critics of pro Brexit protestors, the essential hypocrisy is that the very people horrified by verbal assaults on those they agree with have conducted the same assaults themselves and contributed hugely to a political climate in which such attacks are commonplace. You cannot support the violent actions of Antifa or the harassment activities of Momentum and then claim to be morally outraged when the same tactics are applied to people you like or yourself. You especially cannot justify such outrages as the antisemitic heckling of your own Jewish MPs and claim the moral high ground, nor can you think it is fine for Farage, Hopkins or anyone else to be subject to death threats which you either ignore or joke about. You cannot spend a lifetime supporting actual terrorist groups and justifying their actions, sharing platforms with them, agreeing with their comments on Britain, the US or Israel, explaining away their crimes and atrocities, blaming their victims for such terrorism, and then have the nerve to worry about people you agree with being heckled. Jones and McDonnell have both, for example, issued comments in the past which justified the IRA bombing campaign. And these are the people who are ‘outraged’ by pro Brexit hecklers? By any objective criteria supporting people being blown up is worse than supporting people being shouted at.
In the case of the chants of Nazi directed at Soubry, mainstream hypocrisy becomes so obvious it is almost a form of entertainment or sport, as if hypocrisy had suddenly become a national pastime at which our Establishment figures excel. For over two years people like Soubry have been sneeringly implying, or sometimes directly stating, the same criticism of 17.4 million Leave voters. We have been told again and again that we are racists, xenophobes, Nazis, fascists, low information voters, too stupid to know what we were voting for, too bigoted to understand the benefits of EU membership or mass migration or any of the other things inflicted on us without our consent. People like Jones use ‘fascist’ as meaning ‘anyone I disagree with’. Soubry herself deployed this very word, without any supporting evidence, of the protestors who accosted her. The mainstream media too immediately describes anyone anti mass immigration or pro Brexit as Far Right. They do it every single day. The hypocrisy here is that an insult they have rendered meaningless through inaccurate and indiscriminate over use is, according to them, a criminal matter. But only when it is directed AT them, of course. Could any purer expression of hypocrisy exist?
The final and most worrying point is the authoritarianism that goes alongside this selectivity and hypocrisy. Speaker John Bercow immediately wrote a letter to Cressida Dick demanding that action be taken, that a “change of policy” follow. The policy of the police of course should be governed by the actual law of the land, not by the anger of people in power when they are criticised. Police policy directed by angry authority is a pretty much textbook description of tyranny. Several MPs have echoed this call to action. Chillingly, none of them seem aware of just how corrupt and authoritarian they are being. They are using their position of power and influence to demand that public criticism of them be silenced. How is this behaviour significantly different from the behaviour of autocrats and tyrants, and how did we come to a point where even the freedom to voice contempt for an MP or a leader is under legal threat in a supposedly free nation? This is even worse than ignoring our vote in the first place. They now wish to silence our voice entirely and not allow us to protest. Both our democracy, votes that are respected and enacted, and our freedom, the right to speak our mind, are under threat. And they wonder why some might become frustrated enough to use the same insult they regularly apply, with far more justification than when they use it?