Someone in the Commons Speaker’s Office needs to have a word with whoever writes Hansard, the official record of Parliamentary debates – because they’ve been falsifying that record again.
It was bad enough that Zarah Sultana, that rising star of the Labour left, had been challenged by Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing for calling Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg “dodgy” – a surprisingly mild word for them, considering the many that could have been used, as Matt Thomas points out:
Today in parl, Zarah Sultana was asked by the deputy speaker to withdraw the phrase "dodgy" when describing the lying, cheating, murdering, corrupt, evil, nasty, vicious, vindictive, savage, cruel, destructive, disgraceful, racist, pompous, arrogant, feckless, barbaric Tories.
— Matt Thomas (@Trickyjabs) November 18, 2021
Laing has previously taken issue with Ms Sultana’s fellow Labour MP Dawn Butler, after she used language the Deputy Speaker considered “un-Parliamentary”. Ms Butler was ordered to leave the Commons chamber after pointing out something we all accept as true – that Boris Johnson has lied “time and time again”:
The moment Labour MP Dawn Butler asked to leave House of Commons after refusing to withdraw claims PM Boris Johnson "lied to the House and the country over and over again"https://t.co/Gb8EbCty4l pic.twitter.com/Tbd4X5QKOo
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) July 22, 2021
Now she was attacking another female MP of colour – for something comparatively mild:
It must have taken enormous restraint for @zarahsultana to choose 'dodgy' over all the other things you can call Tories.
And she was told off by the deputy speaker for doing so 🙃 pic.twitter.com/v9Y33AEoXu
— PoliticsJOE (@PoliticsJOE_UK) November 18, 2021
As you can hear clearly at the end of the clip, Ms Sultana said, “I won’t withdraw those remarks, Madam Deputy Speaker.”
So why is Hansard brazenly – and falsely – stating that she said she would?
Here‘s the relevant passage – cut and pasted from the online version of Hansard. I would take a screenshot but I don’t have the ability on the laptop I’m currently using:
Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Lady misunderstands me. I am asking her to withdraw the word “dodgy”. I am giving her the opportunity to put her question in other words. If she does not want to take that opportunity, she does not have to do so. I am not stopping the hon. Lady making the point she wants to make or asking the Leader of the House the question she wants to ask, and indeed drawing to general attention the points she wishes to draw to general attention. I am asking her to use moderate language in doing so. Would she like to put her question in moderate language?Zarah Sultana
I will withdraw those remarks, Madam Deputy Speaker.
That’s not right – and it isn’t the first time Hansard has got it wrong.
This Site reported in July that Tory minister Victoria Atkins had made false claims about racism in the Labour Party…
Hansard has inserted three words into her speech that she did not say. The effect is to cover up a mistake (or deliberate falsehood) that she stated, which was to quote the remit of the EHRC as if she were quoting its conclusions. pic.twitter.com/jCWmWTdsQE
— leftworks #WeAreCorbyn #IStandWithCraigMurray (@leftworks1) July 15, 2021
…while adding to the tally of Tory racism by telling a female, non-white MP to “lower” her “tone” – basically telling her to know her place.
And guess who that non-white MP happened to be?
Yes: Zarah Sultana:
Priti Patel was too cowardly to come and answer questions. So she sent her tone police officer Victoria Atkins. Lovely flare of classist “don’t dare speak like that to me.” pic.twitter.com/SWwwESNekc
— Mark Conway (@MarkConway87) July 14, 2021
It says much about the fear felt by the Tories about her that they treat Ms Sultana with such disrespect. She must really scare the daylights out of them.
Is this why Hansard has been doctored to make it seem that she backed down when she did not?
If so, it seems a particularly cowardly way of behaving.
To the editors of Hansard: let’s see a correction – pronto.
To the Speaker’s Office: let’s have an apology to Ms Sultana for the misrepresentation in the official record of Parliament. It’s your job to make sure debates are run properly and that must surely include the record of those debates that is available to the public.
Also, she deserves it, considering the abuse she has to face within the Commons chamber – both from the people who are supposed to police it and from the government itself.
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