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John Mann.

What a nasty (John) Mann!

Not only has he apparently lied in Parliament (it used to be a gross offence for an MP but, since the Tories took office in 2010, anybody can do it with impunity) but he has threatened libel action against anybody pointing it out.

The controversy arose from a comment during his speech in the Commons debate on anti-Semitism, on April 17.

As part of his contribution, Mr Mann said, referring to his role as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on antisemitism: “That is what is going on at the moment… I did not expect my wife to be sent, by a Labour Marxist anti-Semite, a dead bird through the post.”

Many have taken this to be a reference to pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaigning group Momentum, but there are several problems with this:

  • The incident happened in 2012, three years before Momentum was formed.
  • The culprit, Roger Dyas-Elliott, is understood not to be a Marxist of any kind – he is said to be “a slightly eccentric man who has a lot of books and is a big fan of Barbara Cartland”.
  • Mr Dyas-Elliott said he said the bird to Mr Mann’s wife, a councillor for Worksop East, because he was ‘bitter’ for being refused the chance to stand as a Labour councillor by Bassetlaw District Applications Panel.
  • He was given a restraining order by magistrates in Worksop. There was no mention of anti-Semitism at the hearing.

So – the culprit was not a Marxist, not a member of Momentum, and not an anti-Semite, and this was something that happened six years ago, not “at the moment”.

If that is the factual content of just one line of Mr Mann’s speech, it does not bode well for the rest.

Perhaps that is the reason Mr Mann has attacked those who questioned his accuracy so bitterly on Twitter, threatening them with court action for libel – and (inadvertently?) laying himself open to potential libel cases in the process:

What “anti semites from Momentum”? Where’s the evidence? The tweets from those who took issue with Mr Mann were, as far as This Writer can tell, mostly accurate and to-the-point. I haven’t seen one containing any anti-Semitic sentiment.

I am left with just one thing to say about Mr Mann’s bizarre “dead bird” claim:

It has passed on. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. It is late. It is a stiff. Bereft of life. It rests in peace. It is pushing up the daisies. It has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-claim!

And John Mann likes to exclaim about so many things.

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