DEAC20121102G-134_C.JPG DEAC20121102B-005_C.JPG Picture: Alex Cantrill-Jones
Contact: peter.gibson@rathboneuk.org 

At the Rathbone youth charity on St Peter’s Churchyard, is PM  Margaret Beckett.

Margaret Beckett Can Save Labour From Corbyn. Here’s How

Update: Labour supporter Ben points out a problem with this plan: a sitting Labour leader doesn’t need the nominations. in that case, there’s one extra step. Mainstream Labour would need the NEC  to meet at once and change the leadership rules so that a sitting Labour leader would also need 35 nominations. At the same time they should ditch the ‘£3 to hijack our party’ rules. Then Beckett could stand.

OK, after all the journalism on Corbyn and his racist, homophobic and ‘every dead British soldier is a victory’ frends / parliamentary guests, I thought it might be fun to just speculate a little on the politics of a Corbyn victory.

Politically, Corbyn is making big mistakes. He hasn’t seemed to realise that after this ballot he reverts to being at the power of the PLP. First Corbyn said he’d allow election to Shadow Cabinet; then he reneged; then he threatened Labour MPs and councillors with deselection mechanisms.

What do you expect from a fan of Putin and Iran?

Only 15 Labour MPs support Corbyn. He has 100 Shadow Ministerial posts to fill. He won’t get close. Let’s say it’s Transport questions. At best there will be one person at the dispatch box to question all the ministers. It just won’t work. At PMQs Labour MPs will be silent or even agree with Tories when they have a pop at Corbyn.

Meanwhile the voting public will recoil at the sight of the jubilant hard left, new-minted ‘Labour affiliates’, on the streets shouting for nuclear disarmament, deals with Russia and terrorists in Parliament and hurling ugly hatred at Jews (sorry ‘zionists’). Labour itself will be tainted. It would be as if Militant Tendency beat Neil Kinnock. Cameron will have 15 point poll leads and a totally free hand.

Labour MPs can stop this of course, but only if they break the habit of a lifetime and get together to do something quickly. The best way is to do it immediately. It is simple. 47 Labour MPs can trigger a fresh contest but they must nominate one person. The following Labour MPs should do this. 1. All those who made the mistake of nominating Corbyn when they didn’t want him to win. 2. Labour MPs who plan to retire anyway in 2020 – the party’s elder statesmen. 3 anybody brave/sensible – in five years nobody will care who was on that renominating list.

But wouldn’t the nominated MP then face anger from the party? Sure. That is why an MP should lead this effort saying that they will put themselves up for election but not really campaign. In other words they’d accept this nomination but not try to win the process it would trigger. A stalking horse.

And the ‘Save Labour’ paper candidate I like best could be Margaret Beckett.

She went on TV and agreed with John McTernan that it was a mistake by those who, like herself, had nominated Corbyn to give the party a ‘debate’ whilst hoping he’d lose. She is a respected former Acting Leader of the Labour Party and Foreign Secretary. She likely might retire next time anyway. Beckett would receive a hero’s welcome from Labour MPs and the sensible party for doing this. She would in point of fact write herself into the history books with a selfless act of political bravery.

In a fresh contest Corbyn wouldn’t come close the MP nominating threshold and wouldn’t be a candidate.

The option Labour MPs normally take is to wring their hands and do ‘wait and see’. Learn from Brown and Miliband, two successive candidates who you guys followed into disaster. The general public think MPs must be an organized bunch because ministers seem well-briefed. That’s because of the clerks, Spads and staff. One of the great secrets of political life is that MPs are just sitting there going ‘ooh God what do we do.’

This is what they should do. They should act right away. Current party rules state that if not before this year’s conference then Corbyn can be in place for a year. That would be a political disaster for Labour but it would also be immoral. The party of Bevan and Attlee should not allow a man who openly consorts with known anti-Semites to stand at the despatch box as its leader. Rarely in politics do you have a moral over a  political choice. As a Tory, Jeremy Corbyn would be a dream leader, hence my twibbon. It was the discovery he’d donated to a Holocaust denier that shocked me out of it. Yes, Corbyn Labour = Tory landslide but I don’t want victory at any price.

Corbyn is politically harmless. If Labour MPs do nothing (again) he won’t be able to impose all his bonkers ideas on the party. However he could pack the NEC and strip Labour MPs of their seats, kick moderate councillors out. Ideologically however he will say nasty things about the Labour movement to the wider public AND he will tell the electorate that Labour MPs who think Corbyn is a disaster and immoral don’t have the courage to act.

47 MPs need to get together now, privately, get a stalking horse candidate (Margaret Beckett if she will serve) and announce a challenge the second Jeremy Corbyn is elected by this tainted electorate of entryists. Beckett should brief now that she is willing to do it.

Labour MPs who really want the leadership job would be afraid to strike Corbyn, as the old political maxim is ‘He who wields the knife never wears the crown’ (ask Heseltine). Therefore an outsider must do it. History calls another Margaret, this time to save the reds. She – or somebody else – should precipitate a second contest, if called for.

corbyn guest 2

‘People Here Must Realise They Are Defeated’ – Corbyn’s Parliamentary Guest [UPDATE]

People here in the West have to realize that they are defeated.

I don’t want the G20 to succeed in lifting the world economy. I want them to fall off a cliff.

Holding the meeting in Parliament is very important to usmany people thought it would not be possible… it’s about linking the militants and the politicians

Dyab About Jahjah, while  sitting next to Jeremy Corbyn

*

Tomorrow evening it will be my pleasure and my honour to host an event in Parliament where our friends from Hizbollah [Aboujahjah,] will be speaking ….so far as I’m concerned that is absolutely the right function to use parliamentary facilities… to invite [Aboujahjah] to meet members of Parliament

Jeremy Corbyn MP, next to Aboujahjah

*

They’ve been under considerable pressure all day to cancel the meeting… getting people to email and call… anti-semit[ism] was still an accusation made today

John Rees of Stop the War introducing Corbyn and Aboujahjah describing the protests over Aboujahjah’s anti-semitism

My last blog reported on how Jeremy Corbyn’s guest in the British parliament, Dyab Abou Jahjah of Hizbollah, had said:

I consider every dead British …soldier as a victory

as well as writing a hate blog replete with anti-semitism and homophobia that referred to ‘Aids-spreading fagots’ ‘the cult of the Holocaust and Jew worship,’ and ‘hoax gas-chambers’ among its many other delights.

My story was picked up all over the British press and finally forced even the BBC to ask Corbyn about it. Jeremy Corbyn first denied even knowing Dyab About Jahjah.

Corbyn then did a U-turn when a photo was posted by the extremist of the two of them sitting in the Grand Committee Room of the Commons.

corbyn guest 2

But his staff were still making excuses for him to the Jewish Chronicle:

If the views expressed are indeed Aboujahjah’s there is no question he said them in Jeremy’s hearing.

The implication given is that when Jeremy Corbyn invited Aboujahjah, he did not know of his anti-Semitic views. But I’m afraid he did. They were discussed at the Stop the War public meeting, where the two spoke together, in Corbyn’s presence.

UPDATE: I am indebted to @Carlgardner on Twitter for pointing me to the real smoking gun here, which shortens my blog considerably. Corbyn and Aboujahah are introduced  by Stop the War’s John Rees. He refers to protests over Dyab’s antisemitism: ’emails and calls all day’ (0:27 and  4:30). He specifically refers to the blog ‘Harry’s Place’ published two days earlier “Stop Abou Jahjah“.

Harry’s Place had cried foul on the antisemitism of Corbyn’s guest, by reproducing this cartoon.

annef

Harry’s Place also showed Aboujahjah celebrating 9/11 and advocating violence in demonstrations. Mr. Rees says it’s not antisemitic; it’s to do with “zionism”. Right. Sure. Because there was a modern state of Israel when Anne Frank was sent to die in Auschwitz.

So did Corbyn know of his guest’s views? Evidently, he did. The campaign should come clean.

Corbyn’s guest Aboujahjah had  also published his notorious blog containing the gay and Jewish slurs listed above.

So how does Jeremy Corbyn react, sitting there, after hearing of the Jewish protests “all day” against Aboujahjah?

“Tomorrow evening it will be my pleasure and my honour to host an event in Parliament where our friends from Hizbollah [Aboujahjah, on the platform next to him] will be speaking ….so far as I’m concerned that is absolutely the right function to use parliamentary facilities….” [applause]

Corbyn then takes very specific responsibility for organizing both events, this first one as far as Stop the War Chair and the second as an MP. He refers to the ‘International Union’ Abou Jahjah is heading as ‘we’, i.e. he is a member of it;

it is historic. And I’m very pleased that the Stop the War Coalition and the Palestinian Parliamentarians have come together to do tonight’s meeting and indeed what we are doing tomorrow night [hosting Aboujahjah in Parliament]

corbyn guest 2

Corbyn goes on: (5:38)

And part of that is to invite our friends from Lebanon [Aboujahjah] …to London to take part in those meetings, and to meet a number of members of Parliament – I can’t speak as to whether any government ministers will be there, I doubt it…

Abou Jahjah refers in his own speech, where he was right next to Jeremy Corbyn as his guest, to his role in the Arab European League including accusations of terrorism. He goes on to say: (10:30)

People here in the West have to realize that they are defeated.

And he’s charming about the financial crisis raging in the UK: (11:28)

I don’t want the G20 to succeed in lifting the world economy above the hill. I want them to fall on the cliff.

Did Jeremy Corbyn object to Aboujahjah saying ‘People here have to realise they are defeated?’ No he didn’t.

Aboujahjah (12:33) talks of Corbyn’s key role in supporting his organization in Parliament ..it was thought to be impossible to get into the UK Parliament:

The IPUFP is holding tomorrow the meeting in Parliament at the House of Commons, which is for a us a very important moment because …many people thought it will not be possible… we are also very proud to be your guests here today at the Stop The War Coalition because for us it’s about linking the militants, the activists and the politicians who are willing to talk.

Incidentally this was planned deeply by Corbyn and by Aboujahjah as a way to get the Hizbollah and Hamas terrorist groups into parliament, as a way of legitimizing these terror groups. Corbyn ‘It is absolutely the right function of parliamentary facilities’ – he even refers to the role of parliament for the furtherance of his guest’s cause:

I consider every dead American, British and Dutch soldier to be a victory – Dyab Abou Jahjah

To the Jewish Chronicle, Corbyn boasted at the time that Aboujahjah’s partner on the trip was ‘the first Hizbollah MP to speak in the House of Commons.’

Aboujahjah was trying to use Parliament to gain legitimacy for Hizbollah, with Jeremy Corbyn’s help. And it was part of a pattern for him. In Dec 08 year he had boasted of tricking the Belgian Parliament to allow a Hizbollah man in, again, to lend legitimacy:

A seminar on Palestinian prisoners in Israel was a ruse to smuggle Hizbollah leaders into Parliament and let them speak.

[House authorities] felt tricked by Ecolo MP Fouad Lahssaini. Abou Jahjah wrote jubilantly on his website AEL ‘Hezbollah was at a conference in the Belgian parliament.” About Jahjah, involved as the director of the organizing association, speaks of a “milestone for the parliament,” a “special day in his life, for the AEL and the Belgian people.”

John Rees has just banged on interminably about the rights of ‘the resistance’ i.e. Hamas and Hizbollah.  And of course the videos put up by ‘Stop the War’ are entitled ‘Meet the Resistance.’

So yes, Jeremy Corbyn didn’t “accidentally host” About Jahjah nor was he unaware of his anti-Semitic views. He knew there were Jewish protests. He knew why. He knew about the Anne Frank cartoon, and the rejoicing in 9/11. He sat there, next to Abou Jahjah, as the latter said ‘People here must realise they are defeated’ and said sod all.

Jeremy Corbyn was clear: it would be ‘my honour and my pleasure’ to host this man who gloried in the deaths of British soldiers. Corbyn intended Aboujahjah’s parliamentary visit to legitimize him.

Days later, Jacqui Smith as Home Secretary barred Jahjah from the UK.

Aboujajah J

‘Every dead British soldier is a victory’ – Jeremy Corbyn’s Parliamentary Guest

Dyab Facebook

 

“I consider every death of an American, British or Dutch soldier as a victory,” Dyab Abou Jahjah said in an interview with Flemish newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws on Monday.

 

Everything Europe holds holy… fake gas-chambers…Aids-spreading fagots [sic] – Dyab Abou Jahjah

the cult of the Holocaust and Jew-worshiping [is Europe’s] alternative religion – Dyab About Jahjah

Muslims cannot express…their disgust from [sic] homosexuality...and clearly state that they believe it’s a sickness.. without being persecuted as homophobic – Dyab Abou Jahjah

 

Examining Jeremy Corbyn’s association with anti-Semites is unpleasant, but necessary. It is quite stunning that the BBC refuses to ask the favourite for Leader of the UK Opposition any difficult questions about the racists he’s supported. For example, ‘Did you donate to the anti-semite Paul Eisen’s DYR organisation?‘ Not ‘do you condemn antisemitism,’ but the specific question: Did you donate to this racist?’

Corbyn is not exactly refusing to answer; the BBC is obligingly just not asking him. I wonder how it would fly if Boris Johnson were found to have given money to Nick Griffin, attended his rallies, called the English Defence League his “friends,” and then added airily ‘but I hate racism and I’m just opening a dialogue?’

It wouldn’t work and rightly not. But because the racism in this case is directed at Jews, the BBC is washing its hands.

I will produce more on Eisen and Corbyn later. But this blog is about Corbyn’s backing for a truly rabid racist and homophobe, Dyab Abou Jahjah.

In 2009 Dyab Abou Jahjah was invited as Jeremy Corbyn MP’s special guest to Parliament. He spoke in the Grand Committee Room, as the Director of International Parliamentarians for Palestine. Next, as a guest of Stop the War Coalition, Corbyn hosted him at a public meeting where they spoke together (Entry: £20).

Abou JahJah, who a few days ago was calling himself Corbyn’s “friend”, was excluded by the Home Secretary a few days later. But Corbyn most definitely invited him to Parliament personally, and organised with him to speak for Stop the War – two separate events. So this is more than ‘sharing a platform.’ This is ‘giving a platform’ and ‘organizing multiple events for’ a man who is a sickening racist, a vicious homophobe, and who glories in the deaths of British soldiers.

In 2004 Jahjah told a Flemish magazine ‘I consider every dead American, British and Dutch soldier a victory.’

Abou JahJah J

 

In 2006 Abou Jahjah’s antisemitism boiled into the open, as did his homophobia. He published an astonishing article entitled ‘Walking the Thin Line.’

Can’t a bigot freely express disgust at homosexuality without being called homophobic?**

Muslims and other religious people can not express their disgust from homosexuality and clearly state that they believe it’s a sickness and a deviation without being persecuted for being homophobic

Holocaust denial and revisionism:

People in Europe are not allowed to do a free historical examination of the Second World War and the holocaust and freely express an opinion on it that is different than the dominating dogmatic line.  Any attempt to have deviant historical examination of the holocaust will earn you the title of revisionist, anti-Semite

‘Holocaust cult and Jew-worshipping’

Europe had made of political correctness and the cult of the Holocaust and Jew-worshiping its alternative religion [sic]

And Dyab Abou Jahjah wants to mock everything Europe holds holy, such as ‘Aids-spreading fagots [sic]’ and ‘hoax gas chambers’

To illustrate every wall with graffiti making fun of everything Europe holds as holy: dancing rabbis on the carcasses of Palestinian children, hoax gas-chambers built in Hollywood in 1946 with Steven Spielberg’s approval stamp, and Aids spreading fagots.

Below: Dyad Abou Jahjah speaking with Jeremy Corbyn, as Corbyn’s guest. Now, I don’t suppose that the vicious left, having been shown how deep and long Corbyn’s promotion of anti-semites has gone, will care about this particularly. It’s absolutely clear to me that they are prepared to any racism or backing for racists and forgo asking questions like ‘Did you donate money to Paul Eisen’ as long as the candidate is ultra-left. But that doesn’t change the need to report on it and to speak truth to power. The vicious racist statements Abou Jahjah wrote were long public knowledge when Corbyn invited him into our Parliament, as was his statement that ‘I consider every dead British soldier to be a victory.’

In 2010, the Jerusalem Post asked Corbyn if he had severed links with his ‘friend’ Abou Jahjah. He did not say he had. Rather, he responded that he did not maintain links with anybody he thought was a racist. That means Corbyn thinks saying ‘the cult of the Holocaust and Jew-worshiping’ is not racist. July 23 and July 30 Dahdah posts Facebook and Twitter support for Corbyn, calling him his friend. I’d like to think the BBC, the Guardian and the left-wing media will ask Corbyn why he would invite somebody who wrote such a blog in 2006 into our Parliament as his guest, or would speak with him at a Stop the War event, or who would give his backing to an ‘International Parliamentarians’ group that had this vile racist and homophobe as its international director.

But I doubt it. Which goes to show that for the wider Labour movement, who are happy to elect as leader somebody who has backed racists like this, racism is bad, unless it is aimed at Jews, in which case: who cares! Corbynmania!

* Yes, I am perfectly well aware that you can criticize Israeli policy without being antisemitic. This has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel, and everything to do with gay people and Jewish people.

** For those following my Tim Hunt reporting, this line is “irony,” meaning humour is being used to negate the sentiment ostensibly expressed, by mocking it.

Bullyfandom: Was TWCuddleston “Harassed”?

Last night I received numerous tweets and articles accusing me of ‘bullying’ the 17 year old appropriator of the #Milifandom hashtag, TWCuddleston* on Twitter. It would indeed be a serious thing had anybody bullied Ms. Cuddleston – bullying is always a scourge, and always wrong. I was planning to wait to write this piece, but even saying that I planned to wait encouraged a round of left-wing pieces such as HuffPo’s amusing “Louise Mensch Suspends ‘Bullying’ Campaign So Milifandom Founder Can Sit Her Exams.”

These accusations of bullying of TW- by me and several others – however, deserve a response, and it’s clear that if I don’t give one, left-wing websites will say that I ‘backed down’ and ‘admit my bullying’ or words to that effect. Therefore, I will put up this reply and thereafter ignore her and those tweeting about her. I blocked her account itself yesterday morning, my time, and therefore cannot see what she is writing.

Ms. Cuddleston was not bullied by me nor, as far as I can see, anybody else from the right, in any way. She  – and her supporters – have, however, claimed truly extraordinary levels of harassment. So in this piece, I examine what this alleged ‘bullying’ consists of.

I wrote about Ms. Cuddleston positively in my Sun column last month, where I examined the different response to her clever campaign and the abuse heaped on a student accused as posing of a schoolgirl to set up the ‘Cameronettes’ account (he didn’t).

SOCIAL media may persuade a few to vote but I doubt it will have much of an impact.

Yet the #Milifandom moment was clever social campaigning from young activists.

A 17-year-old student called Abby started the meme as an attempt to counter the media being mean to Ed. Then student Charlie Evans suggested a #Cameronettes hashtag — and a 13-year-old girl took it up with a Twitter account.

Lefties were soon accusing Evans of being a pervert, pretending to be 13 — and no matter how often he said “no”, they didn’t stop.

At the time, that was what I believed about Ms. Cuddleston. Like most, I noticed the #milifandom hysteria after the hashtag started on April 18 and was trending for a couple of days; Ms. Cuddleston had taken the credit and it was taking off. Shortly after that Labour Party Press Office announced that they had taken over Milifandom’s media affairs. This seemed pretty odd to me and several others – wasn’t MF a spontaneous teenage love-in with Ed Miliband?

I was asked ‘u mad bro’ because the @cameronettes copycat account was said to be fake. I replied, reasonably enough I hope, ‘Let’s see if the kid is real and milifandom is run by Labour press.’ ‘Not it’s not,’ replied @MissLauraMarcus, and another Labour supporter, they and copied in the @TWCuddleston account whom they said was the founder. I’d never heard of, nor sought out Cuddleston; her name was copied in to me.

So I asked a question, and as a reply to a tweet that included TW, her handle was automatically cc’ed in. Was Labour helping? I got two replies. The first was ‘Of course they are, they are trying to win an election.’ The second (from @MissLauraMarcus) was “Have you really sunk so low you are trying to smear a teenager?”

(At this point you can picture me making confused “Hm’roo?” Scooby-Doo noise). You what? Smear a teenager? How? Since that day Labour Press said they were taking over the account, I actually didn’t think Ms. Cuddleston would even be reading her own twitter. This seemed to me a totally legit question. Nobody was being accused of anything – well, other than the male student falsely accused of impersonating a thirteen year old girl and founding @cameronettes, being a pervert etc.

To this, my first question of MF and Labour handling it, I got responses that would become par for the course where Ms. Cuddleston was concerned over the next few weeks: “She’s a young girl doing some of the most important exams of her life!” “Thank you for proving how scared the Tories are of a 17 year old! Get a life, Louise!”.

Note the immediate accusations of bullying, ruining exams etc. @MissLauraMarcus continued to answer the question on behalf of Cuddleston and Labour and in almost every reply accused me of bullying for answering it. No amount of reasoned debate, or even praise for milifandom, could sway her.

It’s a great, well-executed, fun political meme,” I said. “The question is did the party co-ordinate it. If yes, admit.”

(I can certainly see how this brutal grilling and attack-dog style tweeting is a disgrace to feminists everywhere :) ) When Laura replied yet again with more “bullying” attacks, I said “Laura, all I hear is you talking for her and Labour Press who are handling her thing.”

At this point it was already getting wearisome of being accused of bullying for asking this legitimate question, and Laura’s claims of bullying were attracting others. “I’m an elderly lady older and wiser than you,” said one Labour supporter. “What would you call me for joining the #Milifandom?”

A hot babe with a sense of humour?” I replied. “No problems with any in #milifandom – only if Labour co-ordinated it and lied. And even then, the problem is not with the originator but with Labour using her.”

I confess that even upon rereading these tweets, they do not come across to me as inhuman pressure on a politically engaged young woman, or as attacks on the hashtag and its pictures: quite the opposite.

On this day, April 22, when I had accused Ms. Cuddleston of precisely nothing, and indeed praised the MF campaign as a ‘well executed fun political meme’, I got a ton of tweets accusing me of “bullying” her: just a few examples here, here, here, here and here. (My favourite might be “Mensch interrogation again? Wonder how long til the waterboarding #classy”)

However, at this point Ms. Cuddleston did reply to me and it was perfectly friendly.

“They [Labour] didn’t, I can promise you,” she said.

Thank you. Excellent bit of social media campaigning,” I said. ‘Feel like I should now make you a Milifandom-meets-Hiddleston fandom but not good at meme gen :)”

So far, so reasonable on both sides, you might say. But no. This mild response was met with more accusations of being “contemptible” and demanding I set the record straight, which I promised to do:

I’m going to write about the campaign, praising her work, this Sunday in the Sun,” I said, and did so, as excerpted above.

I then forgot about Ms. Cuddleston, as far as I was able to. I was bombarded still with utterly false accusations that I had ‘bullied’ her by asking if Labour press, having taken over her campaign, had assisted it, but I tried not to @ her name in reply. Bullying is a very nasty thing to do, a horrible accusation to have to counter, and clearly, I had not bullied Cuddleston. But I tried to tell myself that she, herself, was not responsible for all these shrieking lefties comparing my question to “water boarding” and crying about “bullying” a young political activist by, er, asking her a question.

During the election campaign I was no longer thinking about Ms, Cuddleston. All of my energies were focused on investigating George Galloway and Respect’s apparent violations of S106 of the Representation of the People Act in Bradford West, and as a columnist, I was particularly interested in Nigel Farage and Thanet South, as well as all the other issues that arose in the campaign from a feminist point of view, like the gender segregated rally in Birmingham organised by Labour.

Milifanmageddon arrived back on my TL when I replied to a tweet by (again) @MissLauraMarcus. It should be said that prior to the milimoment, Laura and I were tweeps, often agreeing on anti-semitism issues, so I frequently notice what she writes, and she had specifically addressed her tweet to me.

Laura asked me if I thought it was unethical that a reporter had knocked on Cuddleston’s door. ‘No it isn’t,’ I said. ‘She isn’t a child.‘ I would ask readers to note that this reply had no period in front of it; it was sent directly to Laura; nobody who didn’t follow both of us would even have read it. ‘Did you fulfill your promise and write about her in the Sun?’ Laura asked, accusing the reporter of ‘going after’ Cuddleston. ‘Yes, last week,’ I replied. There followed a discussion between the two of us and one other tweeter as whether a 17 year old is or is not a child and whether or not they can be asked for an interview. My position was that the press code of conduct wasn’t broken and that Ms. Cuddleston was a minor, not a child. ‘Legally can wed and serve in the Army,’ I pointed out. ‘Perfectly fine.’ Laura wasn’t having it: ‘What would your reaction be if it was a teenage Tory activist doorstepped by the Mirror?‘ she asked, ironically, as it would turn out. We debated the issue between ourselves. I did not @ TWCuddleston’s account at any point, nor was I even publicly tweeting about her; I was having a one-to-one conversation with Laura, visible only to our mutual followers. By this time, I found Cuddleston’s actions very distasteful. She was falsely complaining of harassment by reporters – a very serious charge, enough to get a reporter fired post Leveson, or to blacken their names for simply doing their jobs.

Yet TW’s prior timeline consisted of a massive string of self-glorifying tweets in which she directed her followers to RT her press, or exulted about another opportunity she was getting or mention that she had received. Media – handpicked media – was everywhere. She was first featured in a Buzzfeed interview on the 21st and posted a succession of shrieking tweets of joy about it in ALL CAPS, which she has now deleted

SO I WAS INTERVIEWED BY BUZZFEED FOR AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE #milifandom (Link to piece)

This was followed by “please RT” and “OMG I’m dying” as she exulted with her friends that Buzzfeed had made her famous. It was also followed by a  Guardian interview which TW gave after her tweet saying “No interviews please, I am doing my AS Levels” on the same day

 

Given also that Labour press had said they controlled her, it was quite possible that requests given in were being ‘curated’ and would not reach her. I saw no problem with a reporter knocking on the family’s doors, requesting an interview and leaving a business card – provided that when and if they got a ‘no’ they left. I had not been there that day, so I can’t say for sure what happened, but on May 2nd and 3rd when Laura asked my opinion on the incident (as publicly described on Twitter), that was it.

However, I was pretty surprised to find that my one to one conversation with Laura had resulted in a seemingly endless stream of stop-bullying-Cuddleston tweets directed at me, when I wasn’t speaking publicly, or even naming or @-ing her. It was probably because Laura added the #milifandom hashtag to this tweet to me:

Bit of advice love… I REALLY wouldn’t go after a very popular 17-year-old. Makes you look mean, nasty & bitter

Well, I thought Cuddleston’s wrong claims against a woman doing her job were disgraceful, and said so to Laura; but I was not tweeting my public TL, mentioning the girl’s name, or @-ing her into the conversation (and Laura had asked me my opinion of the incident). Again, this was apparently “going after” Cuddleston, as by now anything other than fawning praise was deemed to do.

On May 3rd, I was utterly bombarded by hundreds of “Don’t bully the milifandom founder” tweets; they were  by now beyond tiresome. But I was also perplexed as to where they had come from. Were I and Laura Marcus so interesting as all that? I saw it as a left-wing attempt to stop me tweeting all day long on #EdStone, which was the story of that day and (joy!) proved even more successful as a vote-influencing meme than #Milifandom.

Not til the end of the day on May 3, therefore, did I  check out Cuddleston’s timeline: Mystery solved:

Just an open message to Louise Mensch. I don’t care what you think. Thanks.

This had got 300 RTs, and presumably explained the tsunami of “stop-bullying-TW” tweets. As Ms. Cuddleston had not @-ed me, I had no idea she was talking about me, as I have never followed her on Twitter. A bit late therefore I replied to her:

just an open message to you. We have something in common. I don’t care what you think, either.

But Ms. Cuddleston was not done. She was deconstructing my conversation with Laura Marcus (remember, I’d been asked for my opinion on the reporter by Laura) for her followers on the left:

According to Louise Mensch, I am “asking for press.” Oh clearly, practically begging you to knock on my nans door.

She included the tweet of herself saying ‘no press’ because she had exams. But as I had discussed with Laura, her actions indicated a firm desire for press, even a relish for it, in my opinion, and the press code tweeted at me showed a division in the code between approaching children under 16 and those older minors.
It is also worth saying that @TWCuddleston’s supporters repeatedly claiming that she is “a child” are wrong in law. Under S 107 of the Children and Young Person’s Act, a “child” is under 14. Those over 14 and under 18 are defined as a “Young Person.
  • Child” means a person under the age of fourteen years;…..young person” means a person who has attained the age of fourteen and is under the age of eighteen years.”

This distinction is also in the IPSO press code, which treats those under 16 differently from those over 16 (the age of consent). TW herself argued she should have the vote at 16. So, not a child then. A young person.
Apart from my reply to Cuddleston, however, I still took care not to @ her directly. From the first non-threatening question, literally everything thrown her way had been called bullying. The difference for me pre May 2nd, was that I tried not to ascribe that false accusation to Cuddleston herself. After May 2nd I was pretty disgusted to see her making what based on public description of the incident  was not at all harassment into harassment. Having sat on the hacking inquiry on the Select Committee, I know what a severe and solid charge it would be had a newspaper bullied, threatened or otherwise harassed a young woman doing her exams; and the reporter in question would be a pariah. It was a serious thing indeed Cuddleston said this woman had done to her. And therefore at this point I started actually looking at the activist’s TL to see what had really happened versus the persecution that she claimed happened – and as somebody wholly falsely accused of being a “bully” to Cuddleston, I was now reading her claims with a skeptical eye.
And woah, did TW make some claims. She hysterically demanded ‘answers’ from Rupert Murdoch as to why reporters had turned up at her door and tracked her down. She praised herself for standing up to Murdoch. She tweeted at former AG Emily Thornberry of white van fame who also tweeted in all caps “Rupert Murdoch call off your dogs.” And this was May 2nd! A long time after TW had tweeted ‘no interviews’ before giving one to the Guardian! Have these people no respect…?
But then TW’s air of sanctity started to unravel a little bit. It emerged she had tweeted, then deleted, a photograph showing TWO reporters’ cards – one with the Sunday Mirror on it. When called out on that, she hastily said that all press intrusion was wrong. Reporters stated they did not believe her. ‘It’s just that you are going on a rant without mentioning  the Labour supporting Mirror who also contacted.”
TW excused the Mirror with the very odd excuse that “Mirror however contacted after part of my location had been revealed.” What did that mean? Part of my location? She was accusing the Sun reporter by repeatedly questioning all and sundry how the reporter could possibly legitimately have obtained her address. Sadly for her, this was a ‘harassment’ accusation too far. A bunch of different journalists either rebuked her, or, as supporters, attempted to set her straight: these are not ‘Tory scum’ but Labour supporting writers with Tony Benn in the bio.
Urgh. @twcuddleston reporter bashing is a bit tiring. If reporters weren’t rude and just knocked the door what’s the problem?

@twcuddleston before they came around did you give any other journalists or political party members any identifying details?

@twcuddleston It’s easy to do, tbh, social media footprint, couple of surnames then check electoral register, phone data. Nothing illegal.

@twcuddleston @JonDennis @rupertmurdoch Journalists in following-up-well-publicised-story-and-trying-to-interview-someone-involved shocker.

@twcuddleston Of course not! But not illegal to try to interview you either. Addresses are easy to find lots of ways – basic journalism.

@sarahlansell @twcuddleston Depends. Not sthg I’ve had to do a lot myself but I’ve found people eg from first name, context plus Googling.

 

But of course, Ms. Cuddleston was not interested in that – she wished to claim major persecution (but only from the disliked media group).

“Please Retweet! Shame on you @rupertmurdoch. Call off your dogs & leave @twcuddleston,17 yr old creator of & her family alone!

  •  Said Emily Thornberry, former Labour Cabinet minister. Once again, the Labour party are handling TW’s press.

This description of a reporter who knocked on TW’s door, was polite and friendly (by TW’s own account), left her card, and left – as a “dog” – finally brought a few protesting journalists into the open. “Slight overreaction?” asked Isabel Oakshott mildly. “Sounds like legitimate pursuit of a story, unless there’s something I’m missing.” She was one of many to suggest that electoral roll look up of the parents and googling could have brought up the address. With immense hypocrisy, @MsJenniferJames, who we see above telling TW ‘nobody is out to get you’ on the identical issue, now , tells Oakshott “Either through stupidity or malice you’re attempting to provoke a child. Do one.” “Zzzz,” Oakshott responded (hooray). By this time, TW had twice posted the Sun reporter’s phone number in two separate tweets (both now deleted). In the first picture, she uses the Sun reporter’s details to obscure the name of a Mirror card. In the second, she removes the Mirror card altogether, clearly displaying the reporter’s number yet again. Advice to remove a phone number is, once more, ‘harassment.’ A lawyer who points out to her that under the law she is not a child, and that she supports votes for 16 year olds whilst calling herself a child, is accused of not only harassment, but sexual perversion.

Meanwhile that night, a mentally disturbed woman going by the handle @SherbetLemon1 – her profile said she had PTSD – was telling TW she could be “sued”. Everybody around her, including Peter Jukes, was assuring her what utter nonsense that was:

https://twitter.com/peterjukes/status/594663964258238464 Murdoch never sues.

Yet the next night, as I argued with him – again, not with Cuddleston directly – Jukes was trying to claim mysterious and non-existent “legal threats”, as if they had come from a journalist, or somebody connected to the paper that asked Cuddleston for an interview. Jukes knew full well that literally nobody other than the poor mentally ill woman, whom TW’s fans ironically bullied off Twitter altogether, had ever suggested she would be sued or attacked.

So, there we have it. Nobody ‘harassed’ TW Cuddleston. Some reporters disagreed with her, and were characterized as a “baying pack of tabloid hounds” when they were lefties working at the Oxford Mail, for example, by Jukes. Cuddleston displayed extraordinary hypocrisy as she twice doxxed a reporter, then ranted for days against non-existent “bullying” by the Murdoch empire. Cuddleston excerpted a one-to-one tweet conversation I’d had with her supporter and broadcast it to her followers, to feed a victim complex when she wasn’t even being named, @’ed, or publicly addressed. Cuddleston  claimed that the Mirror were somehow less guilty than the Sun because “part of my location” had been revealed even when her address had not. Cuddleston stated that her tweet saying ‘no interviews’ mattered, then totally contradicted herself as her May 2-3rd rant about a polite interview request showed a text from her Dad (posted by her) dated April 22 – the same day as her tweet, and the same day that despite it she was talking to the Guardian. In all likelihood then, the Sun reporter could have left to knock on Cuddleston’s door as or before that tweet was made – she would have been traveling and unlikely to see it – whereas the “days later” Mirror reporter must, by definition, have known full well she had “requested” no interviews.

Not only myself, but any person disagreeing with Cuddleston was falsely accused of harassment or trolling of a young woman who is not a child under either IPSO or the Children and Young Person’s Act, and who can already vote in some UK elections, like the Scottish referendum, had she lived there.

And Cuddleston had sunk to the level of tens of hysterical tweets against a woman who – by her own account – did her job politely, in a friendly way, and simply left a card – whilst casting herself as the scourge of the evil empire – and yet not @ -ing even one single tweet to the Mirror group, who had committed the identical “offence” only days after her ‘no interviews’ tweet was made, not on the same day.

Harassment IS serious. Bullying IS serious. The reporter did not do it to Cuddleston, nor did I, nor did anyone else. The lawyer who pointed out her status as a ‘young person’ not a child said he received “hundreds” of abusive tweets from her fans… “worse than UKIP,” was his amusing verdict.

In the same conversation in which a left-wing journalist fan of TW’s was accusing Isabel Oakshott of “stupidity or malice, attempting to provoke a child”, the journalist Katie Glass also dared to venture an opinion, and I think it’s a good one on which to end:

@HadleyFreeman @LouiseMensch I resisted criticising her because she’s young. But can she be in public debate but outside comment?!

@PatrickStrud @HadleyFreeman @LouiseMensch complicated though. Can someone expect to express+ influence opinion but remain outside comment?

No. They can’t. Absolutely nobody has harassed Ms TW Cuddleston. I think she has an enormous future ahead of her in the Labour party. I do not mean that as a compliment.

 

* Yes, I realise this is not her real name. As she has said that my engaging with her ‘makes her cry’ I will simply use her Twitter handle for this piece. I do not care who she is or what her real name is; it isn’t relevant to the principle of whether or not a 17 year old can be debated by an adult. Also in order not to ‘make her cry’, I will close comments on the blog, and will not respond to her nor to any of her surrogates on Twitter. Although she has not been a child since she was 14, if she wishes to be treated like one, I can accommodate her.

Open letter

The Tainted Election in Bradford West: Part Three

The relentless smear campaign against the personal character of Naz Shah, Labour candidate for Bradford West, has continued apace, and indeed intensified over the past weekend.

With, apparently, no attempt at contacting Ms. Shah in advance to put their character smear allegations to her – a violation of basic press ethics – the Asian Sun, a free newspaper widely read among Bradford’s Asian community, published two articles falsely attacking Ms. Shah on the basis of her character. This was long-planned by the paper’s editor, Fatima Patel, who along with Ratna Lachman, the moderator of the hustings at which George Galloway was allowed to call Naz Shah a liar and wave her Nikkah around, has repeatedly slurred the character of Naz Shah by falsely stating that she made a personal attack on George Galloway at the first Bradford hustings – and therefore, Mr. Galloway’s wild character slurs against Ms. Shah were two sides of the same coin.

The first piece in the paper included this character smear by Fatima Patel in her “open letter to Bradford West Constituents”. I have asked Ms. Patel if she can sustain her charge that Naz Shah personally attacked the character of George Galloway, before publishing this article – which is more journalistic notice than she gave Ms. Shah. She has not replied.

Instead what I was getting was a Naz Shah and George Galloway engaged in a highly personal attack and counter-attack against each other

She adds:

I have felt despair watching people from outside the district taking to social media in the Shah versus Galloway mud-slinging match.

Yet again, Patel repeats her smear on Naz Shah’s character, stating that Ms. Shah has based her campaign on ‘personal attacks’:

However, my problem lies when both Galloway and Shah are defining their campaigns in terms of personal attacks against each other rather than giving us an agenda for positive change.

In fact, this is a wholly false accusation. Ms. Shah’s opening remarks at the hustings made no personal attacks on George Galloway at all; she made political attacks on his absentee record in Bradford West, and his high outside earnings. (Mr. Galloway votes and speaks the least of any active MP in the House of Commons, and is one of the highest outside earners). The local paper, the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, covered this pretending Ms. Shah’s wholly political remarks were a personal attack and they entirely omitted Mr. Galloway’s brandishing Shah’s nikkah and calling her a liar on her forced marriage.

Ms. Shah’s remarks can be seen here. Slide cursor to 3:43. Here is a transcript:

I was going to talk about our absentee MP, but he’s here – and I remembered it’s election time. Bradford deserves better. I believe Bradford West needs a Labour government, and a Labour MP. Let’s be clear about a few things for Bradford West. This government has been a complete disaster for the schoolchildren in Bradford. They have taken out the money where we needed it the most, and spent it on free schools. Not only that, it is also worth pointing out that Labour put forward a motion for targeting of schools funding, so that we could target the funds where we needed it the most. But our absentee MP wasn’t there to cast his vote on that one. For children and families, we need a Labour government, because we are committed to increasing free childcare from 15 to 25 hours, capping class sizes for six and seven year olds, and abolishing the free schools status. Bradford deserves better. We need a Labour government for families because under the Coalition, every family is worse off by £1100. We are committed to increasing the minimum wage, increasing the minimum wage over the term of the next parliament to £8, freezing energy bills, and we will be doubling paternity leave. [applause] We need a Labour government, because the average weekly take-home pay in Bradford is approximately £360. That’s low in comparison to everywhere else, where it’s over £500 a week. Bradford deserves better! We have a coalition government which has failed miserably to reduce the deficit as promised. I tell you, my three year old could hit the back of that net better than the Coalition government! The only table Bradford West has gone up in, since the coalition, is the employment table. What we will do, a Labour government, is put £6bn through the L.E.Ps, through the ‘LEP’s, to spread that money from central government. So that £6bn will come to us to decide where we want to spend it the most, so nobody in London is telling us how we need to grow out community – our businesses. 99% of businesses are small businesses. For every one corporation tax cut that the Tories are offering, 17 small businesses will grow, will flourish. That’s where we need to put our investment. Over the last three years, Bradford West has been badly served. We have an absentee MP, and for me, the role of the MP is to be Bradford West’s voice in Parliament. But he’s never there, because he’s too busy earning loads elsewhere.

This opening speech is almost entirely about Labour policies for Bradford West and attacks on the Coalition government. At no point whatsoever does Naz Shah, as Fatima Patel accuses her, ‘sling mud’ at George Galloway or attack him personally. Her points about his outside earnings and absentee voting record are both fact-based and purely political.

In additional to the character smear against Ms. Shah, one repeated by Ratna Lachman of Just West Yorkshire in a blog post she has now hastily deleted, that Ms. Shah has personally attacked George Galloway, Fatima Patel willfully lies about Naz Shah’s politics. Under the law, this is not illegal, as the Woolas judgement made clear. It is however, disgraceful.

However despite the elections being imminent, I am still none the wiser about Naz Shah’s policy platform.

Well then, it is clear she did not listen to Ms. Shah at the first hustings or at any of the subsequent hustings. Indeed, Ms. Patel’s bias in writing this tripe is abundantly clear from her tweets and Facebook posts praising all candidates for ‘sticking to issues’ at other hustings, in which she clearly states she has heard nothing but policy from Naz Shah and all the candidates:

Fatima Patel policy J

Fatima Patel also falsely states in her article

Although Shah has made the issue of her childhood and her forced marriage prominent, I have not known her to champion the issue despite the fact that it has blighted so many women’s lives in Bradford.

This is false on its face. Ms. Patel has known Ms. Shah’s campaigning on women’s rights issues all too well. She has published work by her about the matter in her own paper.

Indeed, the character slur with which Ms. Patel seeks to influence the election in Bradford West – that Naz Shah used personal attacks and mud-slinging against George Galloway – is matched by her knowingly false political slurs. Her ‘open letter’ states:

As a Bradford voter I was looking for someone who has an action plan for getting inner-city Bradford out of the bottom of the educational league tables; someone who has a business and jobs growth-plan for the district;

As eagle-eyed readers will note, these issues are exactly and precisely the ones addressed by Naz Shah in her opening speech at the first hustings; education, schools, business and jobs, with solutions offered for all of them.

So much for the disgusting ‘Open Letter to Bradford West Constituents’ in which Ms. Patel smears the character of Ms. Shah.

The Asian Sun has a second article, which I will not link to, as it contains malicious falsehood and defamation of my character; I can confirm that contrary to public interest journalism, the paper never contacted me in advance for a response to the heinous lies they printed about my attitude to men of Pakistani heritage, intended to defame me to a BME community; they made no checks with me against the malicious falsehood they published about me.

The article is about Naz Shah. It attacks and falsely smears her personal character of Naz Shah, again, accusing her of lying about her upbringing and her false marriage. It attacks her mother Zoora Shah, saying that Ms. Shah senior was not being abused by her bigamist husband Abid Shah, and yet the account it gives of Ms. Shah’s childhood confirms Zoora and her children’s appalling suffering at the hands of Abid Shah.

In a stunning passage that seeks to justify the hellish emotional abuse heaped on Zoora Shah by her then husband, the writer Anne Czernik describes Abid Shah as ‘the handsome business man’ who was courting a 15 year old underage girl when he was 29, and married to Zoora Shah who had young children:

She [Nasim Shah, the second wife and widow of Abid Shah] said Abid and Zoora Shah lived next door with their two young children. Naz, his much loved daughter was about six years old when Abid noticed Nasim. She said Abid told her “they had their problems but he didn’t set out to have a relationship with me.”   Nasim said “Abid said he liked me. He was showing me some attention which I hadn’t got when I was young. I was flattered. He was 29, I was 15. He would come to our house to eat “

The handsome business man told her that his marriage to Zoora had been arranged.

It is utterly sickening that grooming of an underage girl should be described in this way. “I was 15.” Whether or not there was sexual intercourse, the 15 year old child was too young for an adult relationship and too young to “marry”. It is admitted that Abid proposed to Nasim “on her sixteenth birthday he went down on one knee.”

The article further describes Nasim as “married” to Abid when Zoora Shah was still his only legal wife; it excuses his bigamy; it describes Abid as “He had sold his business and risked his life for the young woman he loved.”

Certainly it seems that Nasim Shah, as well as Naz Shah, was to be forced into “marriage” in Pakistan by her family, and of this, she too was a victim. But Nasim was not at all the wife of Abid Shah at that time in any legal way. A hellish situation for Zoora Shah and her children is described, albeit in terms seeking to exculpate the bigamist husband who required his wife and children to live with his teenage fiancee in the same house (Zoora and Abid Shah were not legally divorced until several years after he took up with his teenage partner). The abusive bigamist’s brother, Zaf Shah, describes Zoora Shah as being forced to borrow a deposit from a friend of her father-in-law’s, dependent, clearly, on the family of her husband who was now in a bigamous relationship with a teenage girl. The torment that Zoora must have been put through is hard to imagine.

The article quotes Zaf Shah repeating the character slur against Naz Shah that George Galloway made on Twitter about the hustings: that Ms. Shah is a racist, and that she is giving the account of her own forced marriage, and her hellish childhood at the hands of his bigamist brother, to smear the community. He is quoted as saying:

 “This isn’t about Respect or the Labour Party. This is about not duping the people if you are going to stand in a position of influence. I accept that people have a past. But you don’t play to all the horrible stereotypes of Pakistani men.”

Here then, Mr. Shah accuses Naz Shah of lying “duping the people” and of being a racist “you don’t play to all the horrible stereotypes of Pakistani men.”  This is an attack on the personal character of a candidate in a General Election, made to influence the result of that election. It uses the same form of words George Galloway used when he falsely slandered Ms. Shah as a racist.

 

Nasim Shah, however, needs further examination. Firstly and simply, she too has attacked the personal character of Naz Shah in an attempt to influence the result of the General Election: she has spread the smear site against her ex-husband’s daughter. Here is a screenshot from 31 March from her Facebook in which she does so. On this basis I have filed a report against Nasim Shah to the police.

Nasim smear sitte 2 J

This is completely incontrovertible evidence that Nasim Shah has spread the repellent smear site against Naz Shah.

However, Ms. Nasim Shah’s public slurs on Naz Shah’s character predate March 31. On March 11 she posted to Facebook that ‘Maybe it’s time to go to her level’

Nasim shah level J

and on March 10th she posted:

Nasim 3 J

On the Facebook of the Respect sock puppet ‘David Humphreys’ whom I believe to be a lawyer connected to the Respect Party she was allowed to post staying that Naz Shah was lying about being forced into her marriage:

Nasim shah on DH TL J

 

Meanwhile the smear site itself has separate tags – Naz Shah and Nasim Shah, despite the fact that Nasim Shah is never mentioned by name in the text anywhere:

Nasim shah tags 2 J

 

The site has been re-created on WordPress, and under the wordpress blog are some sock puppet comments. If you click on one of them you will find the smear site under another url. Within the home url there is a sub url that contains the word ‘Nasim’. Again, the name ‘Nasim’ is not mentioned anywhere in the text of the smear blog:

Bradford West Nasim in URL J

 

Whether or not Nasim Shah co-operated in the writing of the horrifically abusive smear site, I do not know. That she has personally smeared the character of Naz Shah in order to influence the result of a general election is however absolutely certain, as she has shared the smear site on her Facebook directly. The fact that the Asian Sun has chosen to co-operate with a woman who has personally shared the smear site against Naz Shah is also repellent, as is their description of the grooming of a 15 year old child and their defence of the emotional abuse Zoora Shah suffered at the hands of her bigamist husband and his father. I have asked Fatima Patel in person and the Asian Sun as a newspaper if they can sustain their false allegations against the character of Naz Shah, or if they contacted her for comment or rebuttal before publishing this wretched hit piece with its slanders of racism and lying made by her uncle. They had an opportunity to comment and rebut that they did not afford the Labour candidate, contrary to any public interest journalism defence. I am adding all the individuals whom I believe have breached S106 of the representation of the people act to my criminal complaints to West Yorkshire Police. It is to be hoped that the Electoral Commission will do a better job in Bradford West than they did in Tower Hamlets.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Can Scotland Solve England’s EU Migrant Problem?

Picture this: the SNP sweeps Labour in the general election, leading to a hung parliament. Nicola Sturgeon offers David Cameron to vote through English votes for English laws in exchange for Devo-Max, or devolution max. In such an arrangement, the SNP would govern Scotland and Cameron, plus probably a reduced LibDem and other coalition partners, would govern the rest of the UK. No “coalition” between the SNP and the Tories would happen, or even be possible – because after that first legislation, Scots MPs couldn’t vote on English matters anyway.

In this scenario, the financial settlement for Scotland would be part of the initial haggling, and the SNP would set Scots income tax and spending policies.

Reserved UK matters would be defence and foreign affairs.

There is, however, still one fly in the ointment. Different Scottish and rUK attitudes to immigration.

Scotland still constitutes only (approx) 1/10 of the UK’s population. The nation needs bodies. They want immigrants. Also, the SNP fears Brexit. If the UK leaves the EU, the SNP could feel stymied in its ongoing wish for Scotland to break from the UK. They would wish to join the EU – and in the indyref, Spain and others made it clear that wasn’t happening.

But allow me to propose a unique solution – and suggest a shift of attitudes to my Conservative party’s opponents, the SNP. What if London listened to Edinburgh on EU immigration – and vice-versa? The English and Welsh want fewer immigrants, Scots want more. What if David Cameron, in agreement with Nicola Sturgeon, passed laws stating that until the EU referendum happened in 2017, all or most EU migrants – Sturgeon could specify the proportion she wanted – would be required to live in Scotland? That they could not access any government services, or benefits, including the NHS and schooling, unless they were living in Scotland. (I have edited the post to remove a suggestion to criminalize moving elsewhere – it wouldn’t be necessary. We could simply limit our benefits, which is in our control, to make it clear that EU migrants can access them only in Scotland).

That would drive a large section of population north to Scotland, would fulfill the SNP’s more population wish, would cease to overload housing waiting lists in England, and would satisfy English and Scottish voters without necessarily flouting the EU too much. Being able to decide where in the UK migrants live and work might be much more palatable to Angela Merkel etc than asking to decide how many EU migrants come to the country. Of course, in the post GE15 Devo-Max Scotland I envision, the type and amounts of benefits EU migrants settling in Scotland receive would be none of David Cameron’s business, but would be set by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Further, if Sturgeon wants the UK to stay in the EU, fixing the vexed question of EU migration in this way would be a huge boost to her cause. It would also help Scotland’s economy as Scotland is clearly under-populated, whereas SE England is overloaded. Conversely, assuming that even in my scenario, Sturgeon and the SNP would still be agitating for full and total independence, she should consider that Brexit now will help Scottish independence chances. While Spain and others with separatist regions don’t want Scotland leaving the UK as an EU member, and therefore will throw up barriers to Scottish entry, if the UK has already voted to come OUT, and snubbed Brussels, an independent Scotland is likely to be welcomed IN with garlands of flowers and blue-and-white balloons.

Cameron needs to have the SNP front and centre in his mind. If Johann Lamont tells us Labour puts Scotland last, the Tories can’t make the same mistake. Ruth Davidson will see a small Tory revival as the Unionist party in NO heartlands repped by SNP at Westminster. That revival will increase if Cameron is the anti-Miliband and treats Scotland and the Scots with “parity of esteem”, as sovereign partners in a devolved UK. NIMBYism usually plagues politics. But for once, “Not In My Back Yard” might not describe just the problem of excessive EU migration to the UK, but the solution to it.

Margot

Dear Prime Minister, please promote Margot James

There was only one true mystery after David Cameron’s pitch-perfect reshuffle last week.

Where was Margot James?

I realise the risk in publishing a ‘please promote my mate’ blog about any MP, not least to the MP themselves, but that is not what I am doing here. Firstly, I know and like just about every Tory MP in the 2010 intake, and I understand there isn’t room in government for all of them, especially when LibDem obstructionists have a third of government seats (notice all those female and BME LibDem ministers by the way? Oh. Me neither). Secondly. Margot James had absolutely nothing to do with this blog and would never have approved of my writing it. And I know those that feed back to the PM will understand that.

Now that my interest has been properly declared, it is worth saying that the entire political lobby in the UK agrees with me on the merit of Stourbridge’s finest. “What, pray, has Margot James done wrong?” tweeted Tim Shipman of the Times, formerly the Mail, a grande dame of Fleet Street himself, being then retweeted by Jane Merrick, Political Editor of the Independent on Sunday. Prior to the reshuffle, Margot James was being tipped everywhere from the Guardian to the Belfast Telegraph – her name was on nearly every list.

And this is because, inexplicably, Margot James has not been promoted before. Every Parliament-watcher was expecting her elevation long before now. She is a hard worker, above average in both speaking and voting. She is loyal: “Hardly ever rebels against their party”. She is extremely nice, and has no enemies that I know of on either side of the house. She is well-regarded locally, and her local paper were none too pleased to find their favorite daughter overlooked yet again. 

James is that rare breed, a person who has truly succeeded before entering politics. One of Britain’s most successful female entrepreneurs, she worked as a corporate leader in PR, winning “communicator of the year” in 1997 and selling the company she founded for millions not long after that. She resigned from the Tory party after Maggie was ousted, but rejoined, and fought the safe Labour seat of St. Pancras before taking Stourbridge from Labour in the last election.  Her service to the Conservative party is not four solid Parliamentary years, it is in fact a lifetime of work.

And James, who had a life and a business before getting elected, is not as young as she looks. She is 56 with a lifetime of achievement few MPs can ever hope to match. I say this with hesitation, but somebody has to, so it may as well be me; not promoting Margot James in this Parliament is more than a mistake, it is an insult.

The PM has made Nicky Morgan Education Secretary, but also Minister for Women. Because Nicky voted against equal marriage, he has given implementation of that law to the promoted Nick Boles MP, now an education minister. This is a mistake. I have long argued in public and in private that the women and equality brief should not be an afterthought shunted as a secondary responsibility to this ministry or that ministry, distracting a SecState from her more important job (previously Maria Miller, as SoS for Culture, was also Minister for Women). Margot James would be the perfect person to be Women and Equalities Minister. She is gay, and she is a feminist, previously Vice-Chairman of the Party for Women. But more than that, she brings a Conservative, libertarian, business-minded feminism to the brief. Women and Equalities should be a Minister of State position inside the Cabinet Office, and the holder should have the right to attend Cabinet.

Margot James would do things with this brief. She would end the scandal of OFSTED guidance on Muslim schools that breaches the Equality Act (forced wearing of the veil, even for non-Muslim girls, forced segregation). She would get rid of the anomalies that favor men throughout the system. She would stand up for equality of opportunity – that was at the heart of Thatcherism.

Failing this, the PM should correct his mistake. It would be a sign of his strength and flexibility. He should either make her a senior whip or make her co-Chairman of the Party (I don’t care if there are three) and a Cabinet Minister right away. She is able, loyal, experienced, hard-working, 56, charming, and has proven ability to run a whelk stall.

Come on David – make us all happy.

David Cameron has had a lot of work and loyalty from Margot James, who because she was an entrepreneur, gay, telegenic and full of substance, was asked by CCHQ to do much extra work in 2010 on the media to win our party the election. She took on those duties unstintingly, as well as ousting a Labour MP from her marginal seat. The Prime Minister owes Margot James a debt. He too is hardworking and loyal. It is time for him to pay his debt. Margot was chosen to represent the ‘new face’ of the modern Tory party and she surely does. It’s time to show that this was not just a PR stunt, and that we believe that impressive entrepreneurs like her are exactly what the Party offers the voters to run the nation.

To my knowledge, Margot, though undoubtedly disappointed at not having been promoted up until now, has always bitten her tongue. This time, though, it clearly bothered her. To Shipman’s tweet, she replied “I don’t know Tim, but if you ever find out, let me know!”

If Margot James is lost to the party it will be a massive embarrassment. It should not happen. She should be promoted now, to give her a year in place before the election. Cameron can make it happen. We need Women to Win, is a great Conservative slogan. We also need women WHO win. And that’s Margot James, Conservative MP for Stourbridge.