The stories that follow are not tragedies. They are the results of small-minded persecution by petty creeps who want a few cheap kicks. Remember that.
As I write this, it is still only a day since This Site published its article on the 25 Labour Party members who were expelled in a single day.
Within hours, I received this, via Twitter:
Pauline Hammerton, a long-term Labour activist from Hulme, in Manchester, had been expelled on February 4 under one of the fast-track processes I described in my article.
It seems she had been unaware that the party had been planning to expel her, and was left distraught by the decision.
It is believed that the shock triggered a haemorrhage that killed her.
Those who knew Ms Hammerton (I did not) have described her in glowing terms.
Here‘s The Critique Archives: “I had met Pauline a few times at demos and other meetings, and so, although I did not know her well, her death has come as a shock, to me personally, and to other activists across the north-west. Her dedication to justice was tremendous, and the callous mistreatment she received from a party that she had given so much to must have been the bitterest blow imaginable.”
And this is from Tony Greenstein’s blog: “A cursory look at Pauline Hammerton’s Facebook page shows that she was anything but a racist. She was a decent, kind, concerned person who hated all kinds of oppression. Pauline was Chair of Manchester Socialist Health Association… Pauline was the kind of person who should be welcomed and respected.”
Mr Greenstein has also been expelled from the Labour Party on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism, as has This Writer.
I can’t speak for him, but I have had more than a quarter of a century’s experience as a reporter, and know the kind of backstabbing that can take place.
But not everybody is made of such stern stuff. False allegations alone can cause a huge amount of stress, especially on people whose health is not the best – and tangible harm as a result of such lies, like expulsion from a political party to which one has devoted a large amount of one’s life, can end a life. That is what we have seen.
But we cannot expect the Labour Party to own up and apologise. Nor can we expect any of Ms Hammerton’s false accusers to take anything like the honourable course of action.
They’ll be covering their tracks. If you don’t believe me, consider The Sun and the way that publication rushed to delete a story attacking the late TV presenter Caroline Flack after her apparent suicide (again on February 15).
Ms Flack had been under huge pressure after being removed as the host of a piece of ITV fluff called Love Island amid allegations that she had assaulted her boyfriend.
She had been due to go on trial in March. She had called the period after her arrest and departure from the TV show “the worst time of my life” and had since admitted that she was still having a “really rough time”.
But that didn’t stop content providers like The Sun from hounding her. The headline on the deleted story was “Brutal Caroline Flack Valentine’s Day card mocks troubled star with ‘I’ll f*** lamp you’ message”.
I don’t personally know what happened between Ms Flack and her significant other and I’m not the kind of person to rush to judgement, but I’m sure many people seeing that headline would have believed that it depicted her as a woman of extreme violence and that this was the impression it was seeking to give.
Put yourself in the position of a woman at the sharp end of messages like that – and who had been subjected to a constant stream of them for many months.
It is easy to understand how she could snap.
And now at least one candidate to be leader of the Labour Party (remember Labour?) is threatening to open up a new set of floodgates for false accusations, by supporting a call to expel members who express transphobic views.
And just who would decide whether these views were transphobic or not? The same kind of people who decided that simply being accused of anti-Semitism meant members had to be guilty of it?
Labour has a piss-poor record on disciplinary matters and this will make it much, much worse.
Yes, I know that there is a huge argument raging between the so-called TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and people who, as I understand it, are demanding a widening of the definition of transsexual people.
Neither side seems to have much to recommend it. I fell foul of some particularly odious people who claimed to be representative of the trans community on (again) February 15; they seemed to be just as bigoted and intolerant as those they claimed to be defending against.
And Rebecca Long-Bailey is taking their side.
Wouldn’t it be better to tell both gangs to pipe down, and follow a policy that ensures the maximum protection for everyone?
Beastrabban has written an extremely informative piece on this matter, which is not simple and it is vulnerable to takeover by agents of malice and hate.
Coming back to the fact that people are dying over false anti-Semitism allegations, I can say that I wish to raise this when my own case against the Labour Party comes to court on May 26.
It’s a long time to wait, because justice is a slow process, and I’m sure that Labour will try to obstruct my case as much as possible (those who were at the hearing earlier this month will know what I mean).
But it’s the best I can offer. What will you do?
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.
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