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Billy Bragg: Has the Bard of Barking gone barking mad?

Poor Billy Bragg! The left-wing singer has got into a proper pickle after he dived unwisely into the controversy over Chris Williamson’s suspension from the Labour Party.

I have a lot of time for Mr Bragg, usually. His music has often been a breath of fresh air, whenever it broke into the often stale pop charts.

But his attempt to equate Mr Williamson’s comment that Labour has been too willing to apologise (whenever even an accusation of anti-Semitism is made against a member) with the claim by Carl Benjamin (a.k.a. Sargon of Akkad) that he “wouldn’t even” rape Jess Phillips is jarringly dischordant and off-key.

He is not comparing like with like. Mr Benjamin was (to put it in its mildest terms) criticising Ms Phillips and encouraging others to characterise her in an extremely harsh way. But Mr Williamson was standing up for people who have been (again, in its mildest terms) criticised harshly – and often unjustifiably. He was encouraging others to remember the keystone of British justice – that an accused person must be considered innocent until they are proven guilty.

Mr Bragg claims that both comments showed disregard for the sensitivities of people he portrayed as victims – Ms Phillips in one case, and Jewish people in the other.

He fails to take account of the fact that the victims, in Mr Williamson’s speech, are people who have been falsely accused of anti-Semitism. People like myself. People like Marc Wadsworth; like Jackie Walker; like Mr Williamson himself, after the reaction against him that was whipped up by the usual crowd.

He has not considered the political aspect of this – that many false complaints of anti-Semitism have been made to prevent discussion of the Israeli government and its attempts to influence international politics (the accusations against me occurred only after I discussed these issues on This Site), and that they were taken up by notably right-wing Labour MPs as a weapon against their political opponents on the left of the party.

And I think he has failed to understand the way the accusers operate – using the social media to hound and bully the innocent, collecting and compiling information on anyone who has been accused – mark that word, accused, not found guilty or convicted of any crime – and publishing it, thereby encouraging hate crime against these innocent people.

That’s why his Twitter thread attracted criticism:

The article to which Asa Winstanley links is particularly informative:

Only today, it was brought to my attention that an organisation calling itself ‘Labour Antisemitism Mapping Project’ has created an online map of alleged anti-Semitic abuse cases, providing full details of alleged perpetrators to anybody who wants to cause trouble for such people; encouraging hate crime.

Does Mr Bragg support such behaviour? I’m sure that, in his own mind, he does not. But his actions tell a different story.

And the reason for that is simple. It is because his intervention in this matter has been… for want of a better word…

Insensitive.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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