Look at this, found outside the offices of Bethnal Green Labour Party yesterday:
Reprehensible – and certainly regrettable, as it gave supporters of Tony Blair an opportunity to attack supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, even though they do not know who was responsible for this graffito.
The assumption was that it must have been a Corbyn supporter. If so, it would be extremely disappointing, as Jeremy Corbyn himself has appealed strongly for anyone who supports him to join with him in offering the hand of friendship to the Blairites. This graffito appeared after he did so.
Was it a supporter of Mr Corbyn? Was it a ‘false flag’ attack – by another party, in order to ensure blame was laid falsely on supporters of Mr Corbyn? Or was it done by somebody who is not connected with any group that might be expected to be interested, in protest at what has happened to the Labour Party since June 26, when Hilary Benn announced that he had lost faith in Jeremy Corbyn and Mr Corbyn fired him.
There are a lot of unknowns. What is known is the response by members of Bethnal Green Labour to an innocent query by This Writer, that perhaps they could understand that the perpetrator may have felt they had good reason for it.
Take very careful note of the first part of the tweet: “I don’t support this”. I didn’t at the time and I still don’t now. We’ll see what certain people did with that information later.
The answer was evasive:
Of course, my query was intended to encourage Ms Mulready to consider whether the behaviour of Mr Corbyn’s opponents within the Parliamentary Labour Party – the months of secret plotting against him after he won the leadership election last year, the apparent sabotage of Labour’s work by people in key Shadow Cabinet roles, the intention to mislead the public with a ‘coup’ timed to coincide with the result of the EU referendum – encouraging people to think that it was prompted by a lacklustre performance rather than having been pre-planned over many months (and in spite of the fact that Mr Corbyn’s performance was the best of any party leader in getting the vote out for ‘Remain’), the co-ordinated, on-the-hour resignations of Shadow Cabinet members throughout June 26, the hasty and unconstitutional calling and passing of a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the Labour leader – carried out quickly in order to ensure that Constituency Labour Parties would not have time to discuss matters and tell their MPs to support Mr Corbyn (although at least one was able to do so in any case), the alleged bullying of fellow MPs to make them side against Mr Corbyn, the attempted bullying of Mr Corbyn himself at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the letters to Mr Corbyn urging him to resign when he retains the support of the vast majority of party members, the threat of a leadership election with challengers such as Angela Eagle and Owen Smith (that has yet to take place because Mr Corbyn’s opponents know they cannot field anybody who can challenge his popularity), the legal bid to ensure Mr Corbyn is kept off any future leadership ballot paper (doomed to failure because the rules are crystal clear), the fabrication of smear stories intended to lower him in the estimation of Labour members, and members of the public generally (my favourite was the claim that Diane Abbott was blocking the door of the Labour leader’s office to prevent anybody from seeing him, when she was tweeting pictures of herself from the House of Commons balcony to prove it wasn’t true)…
My query was meant to get her to consider whether, in the context of all these lies, this deceit and – let’s face it – downright evil by those I have come to describe as the Labour mutineers, whoever put paint to wall may have believed they had reason to feel frustrated, let down and angry at those responsible – who have most often been described as Blairites, supporters of Tony Blair’s neoliberal, Tory-lite version of the Labour Party.
It’s quite hard to get all of that into a 140-character tweet. I suppose I could have made an image file and posted that, but I had not expected to be drawn into any very involved discussion; I was just asking if this person could see the other point of view or accept that there was one.
From the response, one may be justified in thinking: Apparently not.
To be honest, I was a little taken aback. My first reaction was that the other person was avoiding having to admit that the graffito may have stemmed from a genuinely-felt grievance, so I asked again:
Once again, the issue was avoided in order to attack my choice of language.
By now, I was beginning to feel a little aggrieved, and to sympathise with the graffito artist. If this is the way Bethnal Green Labour treat their comrades in the Labour Party, I do wonder how they treat other people! Still, I had another go:
There were no further comments from Ms Mulready. However, it seems our little dialogue had drummed up interest from her fellows – or at least from those who were keen to cause trouble.
One responder, calling himself @ChairmanMoet, told me my question was “idiotic”. I responded: “Why? Do you not accept that the Labour mutineers have betrayed the members and betrayed democracy?”
He went away but was replaced by somebody calling him- or herself @SteelandFire, who tweeted: “Corbyn did the exact same thing to Kinnock and Foot. he also said MPs shld challenge bad leaders.”
That’s fine by me. MPs should indeed challenge leaders they consider to be bad, and they have a way to do that – by collecting nomination signatures and holding a leadership election. That isn’t what the Labour mutineers have done, though; they have tried to undermine Mr Corbyn and shame him into going. It’s a coward’s way.
I asked Mr (Mrs?) andFire to explain but he (she?) didn’t want to. “Go read up. Don’t you know whom you support?”
Sure. I know who he is now; can’t say I was all that bothered about what he did 28 years ago – all of which was according to the Labour Rule Book, it seems.
“Google it,” he/she tweeted. “I explained it to 20 of your ilk today.”
I don’t have an ilk, but I took this as an invitation to trawl @SteelandFire’s timeline. I didn’t find any explanations, although I saw the same statement. I found some offensive tweets. For example, to someone who said, “I help in a food bank. You ever done that?” this person had responded: “I employ people. You ever done that?” Nice!
How about this one: “Dear
@jeremycorbyn Blair can’t be convicted of anything… you failed again like you did all your life. Now fuck off”?
Or this one:
Don’t these Bethnal Green Labour folk keep nice company!
There were some halfway decent responses. Here’s David E:
I can agree with that. After all, my very first comment on it was that I didn’t support it.
Some were less reasonable:
But most have been downright unreasonable and contradictory. Take a look:
I wasn’t trying to excuse it, Mr Wilkinson. Why were you trying to misrepresent me?
Here’s another one:
Note that he quoted a tweet that doesn’t even mention the office vandalism. Here’s Susan King:
It comes from the unacceptable behaviour of the ‘coup’ ringleaders – who remain too scared to reveal their identities, I notice. Scared of what, if nobody deserves punishment? Scared of the retribution that may be meted out to them by their constituents, perhaps?
How about this, on the same subject?
I’ve saved the peach for last. Get ready:
Why? Because I said I didn’t support somebody spraying an abusive graffito outside a Labour office? Interesting creative reasoning there!
This… person went on to demand that I accept he would have a good reason for following through on his threat, so I told him: “No. You cannot support such an attitude.”
“Ah. So only you get to choose what’s a ‘good reason’ and not? See the problem there?”
This is a common ploy by supporters of the mutineers – misattributing words to others in order to distort their opponents’ message. I’ve just (at the time of writing) responded by saying this person’s attitude is not supportable because what he/she claimed was not what I was doing. “I didn’t approve of the graffito so your attitude is not supportable.”
No doubt I have more of this nonsense in my inbox right now.
Here’s the thing: I’m sure the people who have been slating me across Twitter since yesterday evening feel they are defending their good name and that of their local Labour Party.
But the comments have been mistaken, prejudicial and downright rude.
While I still do not approve of the graffito scrawled outside their door, I now believe I understand very well the reasoning behind it.
Rushanara Ali, the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, was one of the MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership. I wonder how she feels about the behaviour of her local CLP’s members and supporters?
It seems clear that, with attitudes like this prevalent, no amount of goodwill on the part of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters will do any good at all.
But I certainly advise everybody on Mr Corbyn’s side to do their best.
No matter what behaviour faces us, there’s no need to lower ourselves to their level – and that goes for whoever scrawled that graffito in Bethnal Green, too.
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