Poor taste: Julia Hartley-Brewer has ‘form’ when it comes to bad behaviour – at last year’s Labour conference she invaded a ‘safe space’ area for people with disabilities or nervous conditions in order to ridicule its users.
It looks like Ms Hartley-Brewer just made a direct racial slur against Mr Guru-Murthy, suggesting that he wanted to – but couldn’t – use a racial slur against Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson.
I know British politics just took a massive lurch to the far-right, with the acquisition of 29 European Parliament seats by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, but isn’t it a bit early for this kind of misbehaviour?
*Apologies to Tim Fenton for stealing his nickname for this person. It’s too good to resist.
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Julia Hartley-Brewer – what a piece of… work*… she is!
Attending the Labour Party Conference on a press pass, this right-wing ratbag invaded the “safe space” area intended for people with disabilities, and others, who need a quiet area for various reasons – they may be experiencing panic attacks due to the noise and crowds at the conference.
The last thing people experiencing such issues need to endure is a grown adult who should know better doing something like this:
On his Disability News Service site, John Pring told the story of Rebecca (not her real name), who had used the “safe space” to “chill out”, saying “it really helped”.
Then she saw Ms Hartley-Brewer’s mocking video. She said it left her feeling “humiliated and violated”.
After support from Disability Labour, which represents party members with disabilities, she said she was considering reporting Ms Hartley-Brewer’s invasion of the “safe space” as a potential disability hate crime.
[Bear in mind that police must record an incident as a hate crime if that is how the victim perceives it, in line with the Macpherson report.]
The culprit showed absolutely no remorse but merely tweeted that she was being reported to the police for “a joke”.
She got the response she deserved.
I am so pleased you are giving publicity to @johnpringdns, who really deserves it. Without him, we would not know about DWP internal reviews of claimant deaths and a lot more he has covered. https://t.co/Z08T4U7kA4
You invaded a clearly signposted and designated safe space in order to take the piss out of it @JuliaHB1, you don't appear to have had any other purpose in being there and you call that a joke. https://t.co/qWvttw8qv3
And even the few who took it upon themselves to support Ms H-B got short shrift:
If anyone has been taking any note of the news lately, we are having a mental health crisis, yes? It doesn’t take a genius to work out what a room like this is for, let’s not get too hung up over the wording, it doesn’t say ‘Campaign Training’ now, does it? Not funny. Not cool!
Personally, I am reminded of the way another “safe space” was perverted, at a previous Labour Conference. That was when the Jewish Labour Movement pretended one of its events was such an area, saying that attendees could discuss what they liked (within the bounds of the obvious topic) without being recorded and without fear of being exposed to adverse reactions afterwards.
It was a lie. Then-Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker was recorded making comments that the JLM chose to portray as anti-Semitic (they weren’t) and she was eventually removed from her position on Momentum’s executive and suspended from the Labour Party. Her case has yet to go before a tribunal of the party’s National Constitutional Committee.
This should have been enough to raise concern that “safe space” designation may be violated and should be monitored, but now a right-wing hack has used it to attack the vulnerable and claim it as humour.
From now on, Labour – and any other party offering such facilities – will need to provide staff to ensure that they are not abused. Or they will have to close them down and deny access to the vulnerable.
That is the upshot of stunts like Ms H-B’s.
And that – the exclusion of the vulnerable – is, I have no doubt, exactly what this vindictive, small-minded harridan wanted to achieve.
As a victim of anti-Semitism smears, this is very informative.
Don’t forget that I am fundraising to take my accusers to court for libel – and I have a long way to go before I have enough! Please visit my JustGiving page if you can help.
And read the following to see how the smears happen and why they need to be fought.
Respect to Jewish Voice for Labour’s Mike Cushman for trying to rebut the anti-Semitism smears being flung against good people, both Jewish and non-Jewish in the Labour party. They’re smeared simply because they criticise Israel and its persecution of the Palestinians and as a cynical strategy to get rid of Corbyn as the Labour leader.
The two short videos below are of Cushman’s attempts to tell TalkRadio’s Julia Hartley-Brewer how things really are.
In the first, below, Cushman states that many of these cases are fabricated and points to the accusations against Pete Willsman. He states that that the accusations were based on selective quotations, and that his words were taken out of context. Cushman supports his argument by stating that he has seen the transcripts.
In the second video here, Cushman quite reasonably asks why Tory islamophobia is never in the news, despite Baroness Warsi talking about it, and asks what Theresa May has done about it. Has she tackled the islamophobes or set up a code of conduct?
Of course, Cushman never had a chance with Hartley-Brewer. She’s a true-blue Tory. She’s been on Have I Got News For You several times, and I think she’s a hack for the Times, which has been very definitely one of the papers spreading these smears. Quite apart from it being owned by the Dirty Digger, who really hates genuine left-wing groups. Hence his support for Labour under Tony Blair, and his return to supporting the Tories once Blair had served his term and Brown had lost the election.
Hartley-Brewer replies to Cushman in the first video by denying that the accusations are fabricated, and contradicts him about Willsman. She claims that Willsman was not quoted out of context, and when Cushman says that he’s seen the transcripts, she says that she’s heard what he said.
In the second video, she responds to Cushman’s statement that Tory islamophobia is never reported by insisting that it is. When Cushman asks here what she is doing about it, Hartley-Brewer starts smiling and laughing before shouting at him that everyone knows that Theresa May does not go about sitting next to people making islamophobic remarks every day, while the leader of his party does it every hour.
Hartley-Brewer’s remarks and demeanour are so wrong, that they need to be analysed and rebutted.
UPDATE 15:44 OCTOBER 31: Owen Jones has just clarified that it is the Sun story about Michael Fallon that is not on the sex spreadsheet. That document is now available publicly, if you know where to look, so you can find out for yourself whether Mr Fallon is included for other reasons.
Michael Fallon: If he’s looking worried, think how the other Tory MPs on the ‘Pestminster’ sex spreadsheet feel – not to mention the prime minister who had weekly briefings on their activities and did nothing to stop them.
It seems This Writer was mistaken in speculating that Michael Fallon was a particular person mentioned on the spreadsheet of 36 Tory MPs and their sexual indiscretions – Owen Jones, Aaron Bastani and Ash Sarkar (among others) have seen the unredacted list and he isn’t on it.
Some of us live a long way from the Westminster bubble and aren’t afforded these privileges.
This information has led to speculation on the reason for Mr Fallon’s confession – on a very narrow spectrum, as it seems obvious:
Mr Fallon’s confession was a distraction from the far more serious crimes committed by other people who are named on the spreadsheet.
I’ve read the uncensored spreadsheet of allegations concerning Tory MPs and it is deeply disturbing.
Theresa May: The minority prime minister has serious questions to answer [Image: Carl Court/Getty Images].
Michael Fallon has owned up to touching Julia Hartley-Brewer inappropriately, marking him out as possibly the first sex pest on the Tory spreadsheet to be identified.
Perhaps he thought there was no point trying to deny it – after all, we already know he had to be peeled off a female Russian agent while drunk, and also that he referred to a female journalist as a “slut” – to her face, not recognising who she was.
To This Writer, it suggests that he is the person described as “perpetually intoxicated and very inappropriate with women” on the spreadsheet.
I may be wrong! In that case, I stand ready to be amazed at the name of someone whose behaviour is even worse.
The recipient of Mr Fallon’s unwanted attention was Julia Hartley-Brewer, a very strong supporter of the Conservative Party who has played down the incident:
Note that her tweet clearly identifies Mr Fallon as the man the Sunday Times claimed “placed his hand on the thigh of a senior female journalist in full view of his frontbench colleagues at a party conference dinner some years ago and announced: ‘God, I love those tits.'”
But Ms Hartley-Brewer stated: “I believe it is absurd and wrong to treat workplace banter and flirting – and even misjudged sexual overtures – between consenting adults as being morally equivalent to serious sexual harassment or assault.
“It demeans genuine victims of real offences… I have not been a victim and I don’t wish to take part in what I believe has now become a Westminster witch hunt.”
Others may have a strong opinion about that!
Perhaps Ms Hartley-Brewer was able to put off a sex pest, but others – in a similar situation – may not be able to do so. Perhaps she did not consider that when she wrote her tweet.
As a man writing about this subject, perhaps I should pause and make it clear that I have spent a considerable time thinking about what may be deemed appropriate behaviour, and what may not.
I would agree that workplace banter should not be equated with serious sexual harassment or assault – but what do you call workplace banter? I would imagine it would be joking about another person – perhaps about their sexual nature, life or abilities – in a way that the other person does not find offensive (or at least, they can get their own back), and I would strongly suggest that it would be with at least one other person present and aware of the behaviour in question. Even then, there is a danger that it could cross the line. Workplace banter should not be a sexual advance, I think.
Flirting should be obvious as such, and it really shouldn’t be possible for anyone to infer threat from it. I have enjoyed flirting with other people very much, and would be absolutely desolate if any of the people with whom I enjoyed those moments considered them anything more than humorous and complimentary. The key is that both people should be at their ease, I think.
As for misjudged sexual overtures – would inappropriate touching come under this heading, or is it going too far? I think the answer to that question is found in the overall demeanour of the person making the overture. If they’re aggressive in any way, then perhaps it’s a little more serious than a misjudgement.
In the case of Mr Fallon, we have examples of the language he is alleged to have used – and it seems entirely inappropriate to me. If I was trying to attract a woman sexually (and I admit it has been a while, as Mrs Mike and I are quite happy in that department, thank you very much), then I would not make a habit of using words like “slut”, or phrases like “God I love those tits”!
Also mentioned by Ms Hartley-Brewer are the words “witch hunt”. Let’s consider that aspect of this story.
The Independent has run an article claiming: “May knows she can’t sort this out: she’s the figurehead of a boys’ club whose male members would scream ‘Witch hunt!’ if she ever dared to try”.
The piece imagines that Mrs May takes a dim view of various potential shenanigans, before making the very serious point that bemusement at the behaviour of her errant MPs is “no excuse to tolerate abuse”.
It continues: “While the case of Mark Garnier, minister for ‘Brexit trade’ … has no criminal implications [he described his behaviour as “good humoured high jinks], it is less hilarious than our more Neanderthal MPs will think. In the hours since the Mail on Sunday broke the story, the gallant Garnier has admitted addressing his secretary as “sugar tits”, and sending her into a Soho shop to buy a brace of choicest vibrators on his behalf.
“Even Chuckles Gove, the Rumpelstiltskin of sexual wit, couldn’t spin that into comedy gold. And whether or not this is a relatively trivial abuse of the power imbalance between male boss and female employee, it simply isn’t funny.
“With Stephen Crabb … it is worse. Having quit his leadership bid when outed for sexting, Crabb now fesses up to having sent “explicit messages” to a woman of 19 he interviewed for a job in 2013 when a minister for Wales. What he calls ‘foolish’, I call ‘an abuse of power for which the Speaker should drag him from the Commons by the penis, promising to remove it with rusty garden secateurs if he ever tries to return’.”
And the article concludes, in agreement with This Writer, that the problem lies in a whips’ office that covers up MPs’ behaviour – especially if it is criminal – in order to use it for political gain.
Theresa May, who receives weekly reports on these “Ins and Outs”, is a part of this process.
The Independent piece states – again rightly – that “wherever there is strong evidence of a sexual offence, moral or criminal or both, it should be removed from the whips’ safe and exposed to the cleansing light of day… But I don’t imagine May will do that. She can’t afford to, as the figurehead of a boys’ club whose male members would scream “Witch hunt!” if she did, and the hostage of a tottering Government that could fall at any time for any number of reasons.”
I think the Independent is far too lenient on Mrs May. She has serious questions of her own to answer – starting with how long she has known about the sexual harassment allegations against her MPs and cabinet ministers – of whom we are told at least six are implicated, among 21 serving ministers, ex-Cabinet ministers and a permanent private secretary.
Cathy Newman from @Channel4News says she has a copy of the unredacted list of 36 Tory MPs. Many are Ministers. No wonder PM looked ill.
A spokesperson for Theresa May today repeatedly refused to say when the prime minister first heard about dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behaviour made against Conservative MPs and serving cabinet ministers.
May’s spokesman told Business Insider that May acted once the allegations were “made public” but was unable to say when the prime minister was first informed about them.
So she was quite happy to let these people carry on with their nasty pastimes while the wider public remained unaware – and is only acting, half-heartedly, now that the revelations are starting to fly. Now that they – and she – have been found out.
This fits the “boys’ club”/”witch hunt” scenario, certainly – but then there’s the allegation that her advisors, silenced a survivor of historic child sexual abuse in order to keep Mrs May’s way clear to Downing Street during the 2016 Conservative leadership selection process (we can’t call it an election).
Sharon Evans claimed that the contracts panel members were made to sign by the Home Office were used to stop them from speaking openly about “very serious allegations about very public figures” – allegations which she says were taken back to the inquiry leaders, but ‘nothing was being done about” them. She said:
I suggested that we wrote to Theresa May, who was the Home Secretary, to express our concerns. At the end of the day I was taken to one side and it was made clear to me – this is what I was told – that Theresa May was going to be Prime Minister, that this inquiry was going to be part of this, and that if I didn’t toe the line and do as I was told, if I tried to get information out I would be discredited by her advisors.
If true, why would Theresa May do this?
As the evidence mounts, it seems reasonable to conclude that the rot is not limited to “workplace banter”, “flirting”, or even “inappropriate sexual advances”, but goes much further and involves people in positions of enormous power – possibly even the person with the most power.
That is why it now seems increasingly possible that this so-called “Pestminster” crisis could topple the minority Conservative government.
Not only has the Conservative Party lost its credibility as a responsible party of government but serious questions – indeed, the most serious questions – must now be asked of that party’s, and the government’s leader. Now – not at her convenience.
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Emily Thornberry and the image she tweeted [Image: BBC].
Here’s an alternative view on the resignation of Labour’s now-former shadow attorney general, Emily Thornberry. You’ll recall that she unfortunately tweeted a shot of a house festooned with St George flags, with a white van parked outside, accompanied by an off-colour comment (or at least, one that could be interpreted in such a way). The right-wing media jumped on it and Ed Miliband asked her to resign.
Vox Political took the view that her resignation was in the best interests of the Labour Party, especially as her background did not suggest a person who was particularly well-disposed towards the working classes.
Then Peter Bowman posted the following on the Vox Political Facebook page, and in the interests of fairness it is getting an airing here as well. See what you think of his interpretation:
“I really don’t know where to begin. I am so exasperated with this nation’s press, radio and TV media. Emily Thornberry’s tweet was an error, and as leader of our party, Ed had no choice to do what he did.
“Or should I put it like this: ‘Damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t’?
“The Sun started this Tory-biased media ball rolling. The Sun could say in a similar vein, as it did some years ago, ‘It’s The Sun Wot did It’. As for these Tory-leaning media being representatives of the conscious beliefs of Britain’s working classes, well, that is too funny to even contemplate.
“I just by chance caught a part of an LBC (London Broadcasting Company) radio interview with Conservative MP Michael Fabricant, who also had a twitter incident in his past. He reminded the host, Julia Hartley-Brewer, that Ms Thornberry came from a council house background – therefore how can she be classed as part of the Islington Set by the Tory Press? Thank you Mr Fabricant.
“Even with this, the host asked callers to ring in if they thought that Labour has become the ‘wine and couscous set’.
“On Sky News there is a strand called ‘Stand up and be counted’, in which two opposing young party activists give their opinions against each other. The UKIP rep, though young, was aggressive, rude and did not allow the young Labour rep time to counter his arguments, which were, to say the least, absurd. He suggested that it was Labour who were the racist party and did not understand working class Britain.
“The Labour rep had to remind him that it was Farage who had an Oxford education and was a stock broker – and his new MPs could not be called working class.
“And the Mail on Sunday (November 23, 2014) maps out where Labour’s leadership resides in North London, on top of which, a top Tory is now saying, ‘Shut the doors, Britain is full of immigrants’.
“If anybody despises working class Britain, it’s the Tory leaning press and media.
“This nation, by the way, is made up of immigrants – going back to The Angles, Saxons and Celts; then the Romans, the French and Vikings.
“Ed and Labour have a fight on their hands with all this propaganda weighed against us. We must not fall for these right-wing Tory and UKIP traps. Ed and Labour have to win in 2015.
“If they don’t it will be a Zero Future for all of Britain’s citizens for the next five years – except the Top five per cent, that is – and that is a very frightening prospect, to be sure.”
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