Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Isn't it amazing how short some people's memories seem to be?

Isn't it amazing how short some people's memories seem to be?

Of Course the Labour MP Jared O'Mara's bigoted comments about female celebrities and gays back in the early 2000s were unacceptable, and he's done the right thing by apologising for making them, explaining that his views have changed and then resigning from the Equalities Committee in shame.

However it's impossible not to notice the opportunism of point-scoring Tories like Sarah Wollaston who was literally dripping with hypocrisy when she decided to tweet "Hard to see how anyone with his views was selected and retains the Labour whip. Sheffield Hallam deserves a By-election".

Is it remotely possible that Wollaston has completely forgotten about the furore over the candidate the Tory party fielded in Darlington in the election just four months ago?

Has she really forgotten how it was revealed that the Tory candidate Peter Cuthbertson had written a load of quite extraordinary blog posts attacking the women's movement, LGBT activists and ethnic minorities, praising bigots and homophobes, criticising gay public figures, and whipping up outrage about gay couples adopting children?

Does she seriously expect anyone to believe that she's completely forgotten how Theresa May (who had even made personal visits to Tory target seat of Darlington in order to support Cuthbertson) leapt immediately to his defence by insisting that "Peter has made it clear that his views have changed"?

How, other than rank partisan hypocrisy, is it possible for points-scoring Tories like Sarah Wollaston to think it fine for Cuthbertson to remain their candidate in Darlington because his views from the early 2000s have changed, but bitterly attack O'Mara for his comments in the early 2000s, despite the fact he's apologised and explained how his views have changed?

If Wollaston is serious in calling for O'Mara to be punished by the Labour Party for what he wrote 15 years ago on a Morrisey fan page, surely she should have immediately demanded Cuthbertson's resignation as the Tory parliamentary candidate for the numerous displays of much more calculated bigotry he had posted on his blog "Conservative Commentary"?

Of course Wollaston would never have called for a fellow Tory party candidate to resign in the middle of a general election because it would have harmed the Tories' election campaign by drawing much more attention to a dirty little scandal the Tories were busy trying to bury.

It shouldn't really matter whether you think politicians should be harshly punished for the things they wrote on the Internet long before they became parliamentary candidates, or whether you think they should be given the benefit of the doubt when they express regret and state that their views have changed.

What matters is consistency. If you're going to howl outrage over the issue, then be consistent. Howl just as much outrage even when it's a member of your own political party. And if you're going to give your political allies the benefit of the doubt, then you absolutely must give the benefit of the doubt to your political foes too.

Anything else is just the worst kind of cheap partisan point-scoring. And worse too; it's an example of hypocritically piggybacking your personal political biases onto important issues like women's rights and the LGBT equality movement that affect the lives of millions of actual people.

In my view this kind of grotesquely hypocritical grandstanding from the likes of Sarah Wollaston is actually much more sickening than the fact that a couple of politicians said bigoted things years before they decided to stand for parliament, but now claim to have grown up and moved on from their bigotry. 

This kind of point-scoring hypocrisy is worse because it exists in the present moment, not in the early 2000s like Cuthbertson and O'Mara's bigoted comments, and because this kind of integrity-deficient and highly partisan party political point scoring is one of the ugliest and most apathy inducing things about the current state of British politics.

Another issue to consider is why nobody in the mainstream media has bothered to draw parallels between these two remarkably similar cases. It's almost as if there's a deliberate agenda to create a narrative of Labour Party bigotry, which means a remarkably similar story of Tory party bigotry from just four months ago needs to be flushed down the collective memory hole, because noting the similarities would obviously destabilise the intended narrative.

Aside from clocking the repulsive hypocrisy of opportunistic Tories cashing in on this O'Mara scandal when their own party leader was making excuses just four months ago when one of their own Tory colleagues got busted for posting much more calculated examples of bigotry, and the remarkably suspicious forgetfulness of the mainstream media, there's also an important lesson for all of us.

Be careful what you post on the Internet kids. Because who knows what direction your life might have taken in a decade or two, and who knows who might consider it beneficial to go trawling through your Internet history to find damning comments you'd all but forgotten about making.

Whether it's a future political opponent, a disgusting muck-raker like Guido Fawkes, a potential employer digging around in your past, or someone with an interest in forcing you out of your job or wrecking your personal relationships. It should be pretty damned obvious that any careless/tasteless/bigoted/intolerant/extreme-right comments you make today could always come back to bite you in the arse in the future, because the Internet doesn't forget.

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